What is Menopause?
Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation which is basically due to the loss of ovarian follicular activity. Be it noted that menstruation stops* because the woman’s ovaries are no longer active and no more ova or egg cell is being produced. For that reason, hormones that were regularly produced by the ovaries are no longer produced thereby having a change in the woman’s physiologic response. This includes biochemical and metabolic changes which are related to the normal process of aging. It is wise to note that menopause is not a pathologic incident but rather, it is a very normal part of human growth and maturation.
When Does Menopause Occur?
Usually, menopause, being the sign of the end of a woman’s reproductive ability, takes place with an average of 45 until 52 years old. However, this may begin as early as the woman reaches the age of 40 and may go as late as the age of 55. It has been statistically recorded that the median women’s age for menopausal period happens when they reach the age of 51.
What Are The Stages Of Menopause?
Basically, there are five major stages of menopause which every woman needs. The following are important facts that regarding these stages that is a must know.
Premenopause is the first stage of the menopausal process. This is the beginning of the woman’s change of life which starts when the woman had entered into her reproductive years when she is fully fertile and no menopausal symptom have manifested so far.
During this stage, the woman can involve herself with lifestyle and nutritional changes such as following a healthy eating pattern with low salt, low fat diet. Smoking must be avoided and alcohol intake must be lessened.
Perimenopause is the period immediately prior to menopause which typically occurs during the first year after menopause. It is the phase extending from the first signs of menopause which basically lasts for about one year. The common symptoms of perimenopause include the following:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Irregular menses which lasts until the final cessation of menstruation
Perimenopausal women, time and again, profit from information regarding the slight physiologic responses they are experiencing. Therefore, at this stage, women are advised to seek for health teachings about health promotion and disease prevention strategies in relation to menopause. Be it noted that being aware of what is happening in your body is the best thing to do when faced with the perimenopuasal stage. Every woman should consider the following issues:
- Sexuality, fertility, contraception, STDs
- Unintended pregnancy since during this time the woman may still ovulate
- Oral contraceptive use because it can provide protection against some diseases as well as aid* from perimenopausal symptoms
- Breast health since there is about sixteen percent breast cancer cases that occur during the perimenopausal stage
Menopause is the permanent physiologic end of menstruation that is typically linked with declining ovarian function. During this time, reproductive role starts to wear off and ends. However, this may start gradually and is likely to be signaled with various changes in the way a woman menstruate. There may be a slow and steady increase* in flow but sometimes it may be signaled with decrease* in flow or irregularity in it. Oftentimes, the interval between the monthly cycles may lapse longer or shorter in duration. The changes that may signal the occurrence of menopause may begin as early as the woman reaches the age of thirty.
The common clinical manifestations of menopause which are typically related to hormonal and atrophic changes are as follows:
- Irregular menses
- breast tenderness
- mood changes
- hot or warm flashes which may vary in intensity
- night sweats which may be profuse causing discomfort, sleep disturbances and subsequent fatigue
- osteoporosis or a decrease* in woman’s bone density
- gradual thinning of pubic hair
- vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
- discharge, itching, and vulvar burning*
- fatigue, dizziness, forgetfulness, weight gain
- irritability and trouble in sleeping
Women’s reactions and feelings when faced with these symptoms vary from person to person. However, the good thing is that these can be manageable. Regular physical exercise which includes weight-bearing exercise, cardiovascular activities may help a woman reduce* her stress level and may assist her to improve* self-esteem. Furthermore, adequate and proper exercise may help maintain her bone mass and relieve the body from muscle pains and fatigue. Moreover, nutritional therapy is also equally important. Every woman must be able to decrease* intake of high calorie foods, eliminate* as much as possible or decrease* the intake of fat but rather increase* the intake of foods which are high in roughage as well as fibre. Drinking milk to increase* calcium intake is also very essential.
4. Post Menopause:
Post-menopause is the phase that begins after one year from the cessation of the menstruation. This is often associated with postmenopausal bleeding which is linked with various atrophy of breast tissue as well as the genital organs. Manifestations and common symptoms may also include loss in bone density, and vascular changes.
5. Premature Menopause (Early Menopause):
Menopause typically happens at the age of 45 to 55. Any menopause that occurs earlier than the normal occurrence is coined as premature menopause. This may be due to the production of very low estrogen levels. Therefore, the symptoms associated with these are similar with that of the symptoms of a regular menopause.
Educating women regarding the menstrual cycle and changes that is usually associated with it is an imperative aspect to provide care to women. Health and menstrual teaching should commence as early as possible so that menopause can be accepted as a normal part of life.