Sometimes people toss around the word “menopause” like it’s some sort of bizarre condition or disease. They blame the way a woman acts or what she might say on that elusive medical term “menopause,” as if this provides some sort of scapegoat and explanation for the way a person is.
This isn’t the case, though. In fact, menopause is just a natural transition in a woman’s life, and half the population will personally deal with the symptoms that go along with it (and the other half will probably have to learn to deal with it too). But to manage its side effects, we first need to demystify this life transition.
What is menopause?
Women are born with a finite number of eggs, which are stored in the ovaries. They also produce hormones that cause menstruation. When the ovaries stop producing eggs and women stop menstruating, this is when menopause sets in. It generally happens after the age of 40, though menopause can occur earlier in some cases.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Due to the change in hormones, women going through menopause may experience a wide range of symptoms, though some women may feel the effects more than others. The most common symptom of menopause is hot flashes, which are sudden surges of warmth throughout the body accompanied by blushing and sweating.
Other common symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, depression and irritability. Women may experience irregular or skipped periods, a racing heart, headaches, joint and muscle aches, vaginal dryness, irregular bleeding, night sweats and bladder control problems. Some women gain weight as well. There may also be a change in sex drive during this time.
Are there any medical problems associated with menopause?
Due to the drop in estrogen that occurs during menopause, women may experience a myriad of other medical issues during this time and throughout the remainder of their lives. These conditions include osteoporosis and heart disease. Women might also develop poor bladder control, an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, poor muscle power, possible degeneration of vision and an increased likelihood to develop wrinkles.
How do I treat menopause?
Here’s the kicker. Menopause is a perfectly normal phase for women to go through. It is just another part of life, not a disease or condition that can be “cured.” That said, there are some things that women can do to help manage the effects of menopause.
Medical doctors can work with patients to devise a hormone therapy plan that helps to replace the lost estrogen and mitigate the severity of symptoms. Other natural supplements, such as vitamin E, black cohosh and licorice are also said to help alleviate the side effects of menopause.
And then, of course, there are the lifestyle changes that women can make. Symptoms of menopause may be lessened or go away altogether with regular exercise and proper nutrition. For women who are smokers, this is the time to quit.
Take the time to understand the complex life transition known as menopause at The Specific’s health and wellness lecture being held July 28. Call today to reserve your spot for this important conversation.
Menopause Basics. WebMD.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010 from http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-basics.
Menopause (Perimenopause). MedicineNet.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010 from http://www.medicinenet.com/menopause/article.htm.
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