The Facts About Menopause

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BY: ALLISON BROWN 

As people age, whether female or male, there are certain changes that the body goes through to mark the transition into older adulthood. This article will provide information about menopause.

Menopause can begin at age thirty through to age sixty with the average age of onset being fifty-one.  Typically, around the time that a woman’s mother experience’s menopause can aid in determining when one will experience menopause.  Each woman’s experience is different; however, there are common signs and symptoms that will indicate a woman has experienced her last menstrual cycle and is without a period for twelve consecutive months. 

One may experience irregular bleeding, experiencing either longer or shorter periods or lighter or heavier flows. It is also important to check with a medical professional if this irregular pattern for menses is of concern.  Women can still become pregnant so the use of contraceptives is very important.  Hot flashes occur as a result of decreased estrogen and changes in hormonal and biochemical levels in the body.  Typically, a warm feeling comes over the body usually in the head and chest area lasting thirty seconds to several minutes. Hot flashes can last from five to ten years.  Night sweats are also quite common leaving a woman drenched, cold and having to get up in the middle of the night to change clothes and/or bed sheets resulting in daytime tiredness due to lack of sleep. Vaginal drynessitching, or irritation and/or pain with sexual intercourse (dyspareunia) may occur; these vaginal changes also lead to an increased risk of vaginal infections this is all due to the decrease in estrogen production which leaves the vaginal lining thinner and drier leading to vaginal atrophy, and low sex drive.   K-Y jelly will be a great help in this case. Women are also prone to urinary tract infections due to changes in the urethra (the tube that leads to the bladder) again due to lack of estrogen production.  Emotional problems like mood swings, crying, and cognitive symptoms (forgetting things) may also ensue. Osteoporosis, weight gain, and cardiac problems can also occur.

There are many other reasons why a woman can experience menopause, such as the removing of her ovaries, chemo and/or radiation therapy. Menopause is not a disease and there is no treatment as such, but treating the symptoms will assist a woman to cope. There are natural remedies and vitamins that are quite helpful such a bee pollen and honey, vitamin E, black cohosh, passion flower, chaste berry, wild yam and ashwagandha (powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing). Exercise will reduce fat and therefore change the estrogen and progesterone ratios.

It is important to speak to a health care practitioner to obtain the best information to treat symptoms.  Herbal remedies can have side effects with prescription medications so it is important to let your health care provider know all the medications that are being taken. Speaking with friends and your partner (if one is involved) about symptoms are also important ways to facilitate the sharing of information and promote communication as the transitions into older adulthood occurs.

Sometimes because of upbringing women tend to keep this experience silent and suffer unnecessarily. This is for the very reason that I write these articles; to share information and to let people know it is ok to speak about issues to gain and to share knowledge.

There is so much information that is available and accessible these days sometimes making it difficult to sift through and that is ok. What is important is to ask questions, make notes, and continue to collaborate with and work in partnership with your healthcare provider, whether a physician and or nurse practitioner. 

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with someone who has been reading my articles and I was provided with very encouraging feedback. This article is dedicated to Trevor and Pat Montoute and Kelvin and Carol Montoute.

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