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The Menopause

Updated on July 30, 2016

Menopause or climacteric is a permanent cessation of menstruation and fertility. Menopause occurs in your late 40s to early 50s, but it is said to be average age of 51 in the United States. The causes of menopause is the ageing of the ovaries. As you approach your late 30s, your ovaries starts producing less estrogen and progesterone. At this time few primary follicles remain to respond to pituitary gonadotropins, consequently as you approach your 50s this follicle no longer mature, thereby stopping ovulation and the blood concentration of estrogen plummets.

SYMPTOMS

Reduced concentration of estrogens and lack of progesterone may change the female secondary sex characteristics. It is still possible to menstruate every month right up to your last period but very unusual, and you may likely experience irregular periods. During the perimenopause- (a period during which a woman's body makes natural transition toward permanent infertility) and you might start experiencing the signs as
(i) Irregular periods, which eventually stops.
(ii) The vagina, breast, uterus, and uterine tube may shrink.
(iii) Thinning of the pubic and axillary hair.
(iv) Mood changes
(v) Hot flashes.

During menopause, you may feel many discomforts like anxiety, distress, sudden feeling of hotness (hot flashes), and pains all over the body, and sadness, which are normal. Most women feels better again after menopause (postmenopausa).

CAUSES

(1) Natural cessation of reproductive hormones: as you approach your late 30s your ovaries starts producing less estrogen and progesterone- the hormone that regulate menstruation. as you approach your late 40s your menstrual periods becomes irregular, heavier or lighter and consequently you stop menstruating and your ovaries stops producing eggs by age 50 or 51 while in some in their late 40s.

(2)Primary ovarian insufficiency: this is the case where the ovaries fail to produce normal level of reproductive hormones. Most women with ovarian insufficiency have premature menopause or experience menopause before the age of 40. In this case, hormone therapy may be recommended until the natural age of menopause in order to protect brain, heart, and bone.

(3) Smoking tobacco: menopause can occur earlier in those women who smoke tobacco and can increase your risk of getting heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.

COMPLICATIONS

After menopause, there are certain conditions that may be risky to your health. They include:
(1) Cardiovascular disease: when estrogen level declines, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Therefore, it is important to get regular exercise and eat a healthy to maintain good weight, reduce intake of cholesterol if too high.

(2) Urinary incontinence: during menopause, the vagina and tissues of the urethra loses their elasticity thereby making you feel a sudden urge to urinate which leads to involuntary loss of urine or the loss of urine when you cough or laugh.

(3) Osteoporosis: osteoporosis causes the bone to become weak which leads to an increase risk of fracture.

(4) Vaginal dryness: during menopause, the decreased production of estrogen and progesterone can affect the moisture that coats the vaginal walls, thereby causing vaginal dryness. Loss of elasticity can cause slight bleeding during sexual intercourse. Your desire for sexual activity may also reduce due to decreased sensation.

STAYING HEALTHY AFTER MENOPAUSE

There are certain steps to take in order to stay healthy after menopause (postmenopause).

  • exercise: get regular exercise at least 30 minute to strengthen your bones, get enough calcium and vitamin D to protect your bones from osteoporosis. Avoid smoking as it increases your chance of getting heart disease and stroke.
  • Hot flashes: these are the most common symptom of menopause. To get rid of this, avoid alcohol avoid consumption of hot and spicy foods. Dress in layers and always go to a place cooler.
  • To reduce vaginal dryness, a vaginal lubricant, and moisturizers is available. It can help lubricate the vagina and make sexual intercourse more comfortable and painless.
  • check your cholesterol and blood pressure level regularly
  • get enough sleep; avoid caffeine, which makes it hard to get sleep.
  • eat a balance diet meal that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains and reduce the intake of saturated fats, oil, and sugar.


FIVE FOODS AND DRINKS TO AVOID DURING MENOPAUSE


  • Baked goods: Foods like white bread, pies, cookies, muffins, and cakes can contribute to weight gain, and cause blood sugar levels to spike. In order to avoid these unhealthy foods, try replacing white bread and pasta with their whole wheat versions. These will do a better job of filling you up, and they contain whole grains and fiber, which are good for you.
  • Alchohol: Alcohol can activate headaches, hot flashes, night sweats, and anxiety. Reducing how much alcohol you drink and avoiding binge drinking can help reduce menopausal symptoms and while also benefiting your overall health.

  • Processed foods :It's advisable to limit any processed foods that contain high levels of saturated fats and sugar. Intake of too much salt can raise blood pressure, which increases a person's risk for having a stroke or getting heart disease. Sodium causes your body to retaine fluides, which can make a person feel uncomfortable and bloated. Potato chips or cookies might taste good, but they’re usually high in sodium or loaded with added sugars , which can also make your body retain water and feel bloated. If you’re craving for a snack, try a healthier alternative like string cheese, carrots dipped in hummus, or a few whole-grain crackers with peanut butter — they’ll satisfy your need without filling you up with the bad stuff.
  • spicy foods: Capsicum, a compound present in peppers making them spicy can trigger hot flashes and night sweats if consumed in the hours leading up to going to bed. Nevertheless, don't completely cut peppers that contain capsicum out of your diet, since this compound can as well help relieve osteoarthritis, psoriasis, and shingles.

caffeine: Most of the women love a good coffee early in the morning, women who consumed caffeine are more likely to have hot flashes than women who didn’t have caffein. Caffeinated beverages are harmless once in a while and can be a nice choice while relaxing at a coffee shop or spending time with friends. But caffeine can become a problem if it becomes something you need to have constant access to. It can make it hard to get sleep. Rather try to slowly decrease how much caffeine you consume, and replace it with water, fruit juice, or herbal tea.

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