- Women's Health
Causes and Symptoms of Menopause
Yahoo Images:Good Reasons to Embrace Menopause
By Joan Whetzel
What is menopause? It's a period of change for women that occurs as they age. The term menopause covers all the signs and symptoms that women experience before and after the menstrual cycles cease, signaling the end of their child bearing years. Premature menopause may be caused by surgical removal of the ovaries. Natural menopause usually begins somewhere around the age of 40 for most women
Women are born with a limited number of eggs. Their ovaries not only store the eggs, but regulate the hormones that control ovulation and the menstrual cycle (progesterone and estrogen). Natural menopause occurs when the ovaries quit producing eggs, which leads to the cessation of menstruation.
Stages of Menopause
Peri-menopause, the first stage of menopause, begins with a gradual decrease in estrogen production. This stage lasts up until the ovaries quit producing eggs, and can last for several years. During, the last year or two of peri-menopause, women experience the more severe menopausal symptoms due to an accelerated decrease in estrogen production.
Menopause describes the point at which a woman has had no periods for one year. Her ovaries no longer produce eggs and barely produce any estrogen.
Post-menopause, defined as the years after menopause, is the stage when menopausal symptoms dissipate. The loss of estrogen, however, sometimes brings on other health issues.
During all three stages of menopause women experience any number of menopausal symptoms. The number and severity of symptoms vary from woman to woman, and may include: irregular periods, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, joint and muscle aches, changes in the sex drive and vaginal dryness. The symptoms most women dread include mood swings, depression, irritability, bladder control problems, and of course, hot flashes.
Hot Flashes generate sudden surges of heat, beginning in the torso then extend to the head and extremities. The symptom is marked by copious sweating and reddening of the face. Body temperature may drop a few degrees, signaling the internal thermostat to kick on the heater. When the hot flash ends, chills sometimes occur as the body tries to return to its natural temperature. Hot flash causes and treatments vary
The mood swings, depression and irritability brought on by menopausal changes tend to make women feel as if they're in a perpetual state of PMS. During the 1 to 2 year period when estrogen levels decrease significantly, the mood swings and PMS like symptoms may become severe. These symptoms may exacerbate any tensions or anxieties that a woman feels.
During the child bearing years, the estrogen levels in a woman's body help keep her bladder and urethra healthy. As estrogen production decreases, the pelvic muscles dealing with bladder control, weaken, leading to urinary incontinence. This may occur as an occasional simple leakage, leakage when coughing or sneezing, or urge incontinence where the bladder squeezes at the wrong time or all of the time, even when the bladder isn't full. It can also lead to the need for frequent trips to the bathroom during the night.
A Few Simple Treatments for Menopause
To aid insomnia, avoid caffeine in the afternoons and evenings, exercise daily and maintain a regular bedtime ritual. Exercise and a healthy diet (no alcohol, low sodium and low caffeine) help mood swings, depression and irritability. Also developing skill that will help calm those jangle nerves, like yoga or meditation, and engaging in creative ventures can help promote a feelings of accomplishment. More importantly, stay in contact with family and friends, as this will help you reel grounded. Urinary incontinence can be controlled with many techniques from medication and surgical intervention to more home based remedies like limiting caffeine and fluid intake in the evening and pelvic exercises.
For more symptom relief, talk to your doctor. Also visit "Menopause Basics" on WebMD or "Menopause (Perimenopause)" at MedicineNet.com for a few additional pointers.