Menopause decoded in 3 minutes

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What is Menopause?

Menopause is a normal, natural process, a transitory phase of life. All women as they age must necessarily go through the menopause. Menopause or the cessation of your monthly periods, signals that the reproductive phase in your life as a woman is now over.

When does Menopause happen?

Menopause is considered to have set in once you have not had any period for a full year.
It usually occurs around the age of 51 but can happen even in one's 30s or much later, in one's 60s. It all depends upon one's genetic and family history. Daughters often follow the mother's patterns of both menarche and menopause but that may not be so in all cases.For some women the menopause can be a most turbulent and trying period of life, though others may seem to sail through quite smoothly. Varied symptoms and incorrect knowledge can create all kinds of wrong ideas, confusion and unnecessary fears in women compounding their problems with the added stress.

Things you need to know-

  1. It is important to understand that menopausal symptoms often start much before the actual cessation of the periods. This phase, known the peri menopausal phase precedes the actual menopause by around a couple of years.
  2. It is a transition phase caused by reducing levels of oestrogen in the body. It usually stretches for about 4 years but can last for a mere 6 months or for a protracted 10 to 13 years.
  3. You are never too young to start having symptoms. You may be still getting your periods regularly when symptoms like unusual fatigue, hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, and weight gain surface and begin to plague you. This can cause some confusion as to what the symptoms are all about.
  4. "How can I be in menopause when I am still getting my periods" can be the moot question. In fact, you experience more symptoms during this period, especially in the 2 years before the periods stop, than after.

What are peri-menopausal symptoms?

  1. The commonest and most well known are hot flashes. A hot flash is a period of feeling of intense heat, warm skin and sweating brought on by the hormonal changes in the body. The flashes can come on  suddenly, or you may get an inkling of one coming on.
  2. The hot feeling can be accompanied by a faster heartbeat, tingling in the fingers and a flushed or red face and can be quite uncomfortable for some women.
  3. The hot flashes are more often than not accompanied by sweating. The sweat seems to pour down from the face, neck and scalp dampening the hair. Night sweats may leave the bedclothes drenched with sweat necessitating the changing of them at least once during the night.
  4. Some women also begin to experience irregularity in their periods. The periods may come early or late. They may be scanty or there may be profuse bleeding with blood clots present. There  may be spotting in between the periods or after sex. In such a case, the woman would need to be checked out by the doctor.

Few more signs to watch out for:

  • Worsening of the premenstrual syndrome,
  • Lower sex drive, fatigue,
  • Depression, insomnia,
  • Mood swings, anxiety,
  • Breast tenderness and
  • Urinary symptoms such as urgency, tendency to leak and infection.

Women, be aware!

Some women experience strange changes in their emotions, memory, and concentration. Increased irritability, moodiness, even emotional outbursts and hysterics have often been provoked by the shifting hormone levels.

Another worrying symptom for women is that there is a tendency to gain weight during this phase. Because of low oestrogen levels fat gets deposited around the waist, hips and thighs. This fat is not as easy to shed off as before.

There could be hair loss and a decreased sex drive. The vagina tends to get dry and this can make sex painful for some women, putting them off sex all the more.

So be aware and know what happens to your own self with the passing time. Ask a gynecologist of your choice while sitting at home, download LAIMA.

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