Menopause age symptoms treatment and relief

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a normal phase of life, just as is puberty. It is generally described as a period of 12 months having elapsed, since the last menstrual flow due to natural causes. Peri-menopause is the time of transition when a woman starts noticing the changes in the menstrual cycle and in her body. This could last up to six years until menopause. Menopause is linked to aging, decline in the level of production of estrogens and progesterone and the stoppage in the production of eggs by the ovaries. It often means that the woman will not be able to conceive again. Though the average age for menopause has been put at 51 it has been noticed of late that women in their late 30’s have already gone into menopause. For some women menopause could mean freedom from menstruation and the fear associated with unwanted pregnancies.

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Symptoms or signs of menopause

The diagnosis of peri-menopause is made after considering a woman’s medical and menstrual history. Menopause should be due to natural causes and other health issues like thyroid dysfunction need to be ruled out before the diagnosis is made.

Signs of menopause – The first sign of menopause is irregularity in the menstrual periods. The other common signs are hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disturbances, lowered libido, vaginal dryness, weight gain etc. It would be inappropriate to refer to these as symptoms, as the word symptom is always used in association with diseases and menopause is a natural event.

During the transitional period, women complain of irregular periods, which may be shorter or longer or the flow may be heavier than normal. When the gap between the periods is too close or when you have excessive bleeding and it lasts more than a week, it is advisable to consult with your doctor.

The common signs/symptoms of menopause and why they are caused

Hot flashes are related to the changing levels of estrogens and progesterone in the body. It is the sudden feeling of heat in upper torso that causes your face and neck to become flushed, followed by excessive sweating and cold chills. When this happens at night, it causes a woman to be uncomfortable and lose sleep over it. Hot flashes have been considered to be the result of changes in the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature. The hypothalamus often misinterprets that the body is too warm and starts sweating to cool the body down. This causes the blood vessels near the surface of the skin to dilate and makes the skin appear blotched and flushed. A chill often follows this. Sometimes it also causes an increase in heart rate. The good news is, hot flashes often stop on their own, over a period, without any treatment.

Sleep disturbances are common during this period and are more pronounced by hot flashes at night. Physicians do say that if a person has adequate sleep and can function in an alert state during the day, there is no need for treatment. Sleep disturbances could often cause other related problems like headaches, irritability, mood fluctuations, fatigue, inability to concentrate and heightened emotional states. There is no conclusive evidence to show that any of these symptoms are directly related to menopause. The reasoning could be that most women are accustomed to a certain inner hormonal rhythm, and erratic changes in the hormonal levels could exacerbate many of these symptoms. This could also be heightened by mid life changes and stresses that are part of that phase of life.

Decreased libido could be a result of the natural aging process. It has been found that 1/3rd of all women experience vaginal dryness, vaginal discharge, irritation, itchiness or burning. The changing estrogen levels could cause the genital area to become drier and thinner leading to painful intercourse and decreased libido. Research shows that though decline of libido is common for both genders, the number of women that are affected is two or three times higher than that of men.

Osteoporosis is a condition when the bones become fragile, brittle and tend to fracture easily. The declining level of estrogens could contribute to higher levels of osteoporosis at menopause, as estrogens helps control bone loss. The risk of fracture increases after menopause.

Weight gain : Around menopause, women tend to lose a lot of muscle tissue and gain weight which is basically fat. As we age, we generally need fewer calories as we expend less energy. A change in life style, especially towards healthy eating habits, adequate physical activity etc. helps gain muscle tissue and reduces your weight. During this period, your skin also suffers from the diminished levels of estrogens, as there is a loss of collagen, which makes the skin sag and wrinkle. These changes also contribute to a poor body image. Though estrogen therapy has shown to have beneficial effects on the skin, it has, potential risks associated with it and should be considered just for cosmetic purposes.

Heart disease: Although heart disease is always considered a man’s disease, studies have shown that after the age of 55, cardio vascular diseases cause 50% of the deaths in women. The weight gain, the reduced activity levels and other associated problems like high blood pressure seem to be the major contributors to the increased cardio vascular disease in women during menopause.

Menopause relief

Diet :A healthy diet, which is high in fibre, minerals and vitamins, is recommended. Increased intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables would be highly beneficial. Reducing the consumption of meat, especially red meats and changing your diet to contain more of fish or lean poultry meats would help bring down the excess weight and associated problems.

Herbal remedies for menopause

Various herbal remedies have been in use to reduce hot flashes

Black Cohosh (actaea racemosa) has been highly recommended for hot flashes. Studies have however shown mixed results.

Red clover - This herb again has been believed to reduce hot flashes. However, studies do not show any conclusive evidence. What is alarming is that animal studies have shown it to have harmful effects on some parts of the body.

Gingseng : Research has shown that this root helps with symptoms such as mood swings and sleep disturbances and enhances general wellbeing. Nevertheless, studies have not shown any conclusive proof of its effectiveness with hot flashes.

Evening primrose oil has often been highly promoted as a remedy for hot flashes. Studies have not only proved that it has no benefits whatsoever but they have also shown that it could cause various other side effects including seizures in schizophrenic patients who are on antipsychotic drugs.

Systemic estrogen therapy seems to be the only effective form of therapy for hot flashes as of now.

Handling sleep disturbances at menopause

Sleep disturbances could be taken care of by following a few easy steps.

Ensuring that you do not sleep during the day, avoiding drinks or beverages are caffeinated, exercising regularly, taking a warm bath before bedtime and avoiding disturbances during sleep time, creating a peaceful atmosphere conducive for sleep could all help you sleep better.

In problems like osteoporosis and other related illnesses, it would be vital to consult your doctor and start on food supplements or medication for the purpose.

Handling menopause effectively would mean a change in diet, physical activity or exercises and a positive approach to life. A little help and understanding from significant others could also reduce your burdens largely. All you need to remember is “this too shall pass”.

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21 comments

clairemy profile image

clairemy 4 years ago

I am glad to see another hub concerning menopause, and that you suggestions for helping to get through it as "comfortably as possible only suggest medication from a doctor at the end . I hope you read my hub concerning HRT.....Mothers"Milk", and see why I believe that herbal is best.

Good Hub and voted up.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Clairemy, I guess you missed something here.... medication is not the suggestion at all, life style changes is what has been recommended in this hub. These are research facts on herbal medication that I have quoted here. Thanks for taking a peek at this hub and for the comments. Have a great day.


clairemy profile image

clairemy 4 years ago

Yes, I have looked again, and misinterprated what you had writtem...my apologies.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Apology accepted. I love all things natural and medication is my last resort. Have a wonderful day. :)


cloverleaffarm profile image

cloverleaffarm 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

Herbs are a great thing, but you really have to know what you are doing. Taking herbs randomly can cause more troubles than menopause.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Great advice, especially the natural remedies. This is another good reason we should eat healthy. Voted up!


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Cloverleaffarm, I agree with you completely. People somehow think that herbs are not so potent and will not do harm.. you really need to know what you are doing especially at menopause.. Thanks for that input. Much appreciated. Have a great day.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Teaches12345, Healthy eating is the only way to live... menopause or not! thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Have a great day!


rekha 4 years ago

Very useful article. It is reassuring to know that it is a natural process, hot flush et al. Thanks!! God bless!


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Rekha, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment... Yup..hot flushes et all is indeed a natural process.. I am glad to have resurgent you with all this information... Have a lovely day!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

What a thorough hub about menopause, and one I will highly recommend for others-female AND male alike, to read, so I will be sharing this. Your explanations of the different signs are easy to understand. I love the emphasis on 'natural' process.

I'm wondering why the age of menopause is dropping to an earlier age (did I read this correctly)? Thanks for sharing.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

You covered this topic extremely well. It helps to be knowledgeable about menopause. Voted up!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America

Denise Handlon - I don't know how accurate this premise is, but: Some social scientists believe that 1)earlier menopause may be our species cure for overpopulation, and 2) abused girls begin menstruating at an earlier age because their bodies are trying to mature more quickly in order to leave the home (begin their own nuclear families). Sounds like everything is happening earlier, yet we are living longer.


cloverleaffarm profile image

cloverleaffarm 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

Patty, not sure how true that is. I started my period at 13, and began menopause at 40...stopped completely at 47. I think genetics plays a role in it all too. My mother stopped at about 44. I also know women who started at 9, and in their 50's and haven't stopped. Nature is a curious thing, isn't it?


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Denise ..it is true that women are going into early menopause. A few of my friends have already been there.. at forty.. Thanks for the comment and I see that you have started a discussion here.. I appreciate the inputs. have a lovely day.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Pamela, Thank you for stopping by to leaving a comment. I appreciate your comment very much. Have a lovely day.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Patty Inglish nd Cloverleaffarm, thanks for answering Denise. I am only talking about a trend that has been noticed but for all official purposes the age has been put at 51.. There is no actual data on this, but Gynecologist would tell you that menopause occurs much earlier these day as you have stated. thanks for dropping by. Have a lovely day.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks ladies for the additional info. Now my curiousity is really picqued! (and that's a good thing).


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Denise hope your curiosity will provide us with more information. Have a lovely day!


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

Thank you Guys for the discussion here. I learn a lot from this hub. Although I´m almost 52, I still look forward to the end of my period. Thanks for sharing this informative hub.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Thelma, it is freedom indeed... I guess it is the secret wish of each woman ... LOL .. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Much appreciated.

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