As a middle-aged woman, the imminent arrival of menopause is probably, what
consumes your mind. We are all aware of the unmistakable sign of menopause, the
absence of the menstrual cycle. But when does it begin? Moreover, how long does it
The journey towards menopause begins with perimenopause. Commonly,
perimenopause begins at the age of 40-44. This transitory period around menopause
can last anywhere between 2 to 10 years.
But how does one know that they are in this menopausal transition?
Well, due to the fluctuating hormone levels, you will begin to notice changes in the
menstrual cycle. Cycles may become longer or shorter, your bleeding pattern will
change, and you will also experience physical and emotional symptoms.
During the early stage of perimenopause, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion
increases, creating a shorter interval between menstrual cycles. As perimenopause
progresses towards the late stage, estrogen levels decline, resulting in progressively
irregular menstrual cycles with longer intervals between them. The symptoms of
perimenopause are the same as menopause, however, due to whatever little estrogen
that remains, perimenopausal symptoms are mild and less severe.
Then, at last, arrives the year-long dry spell of no menses, this is known as menopause.
During this time, you will experience the classic symptoms of menopause; hot flashes,
night sweats, dry and itchy skin, vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, etc. The average
age of menopause is 51 but can occur between ages 40 and 58.
After a year of menopause, you will enter the phase of postmenopause. And this is the
final leg of your reproductive journey. Postmenopause is permanent since the ovaries
will not regain their function to produce estrogen or progesterone. Frequently, the terms
menopause and postmenopause are interchangeable. Therefore, if one is talking about
menopause, one might be referring to postmenopause.
But what does postmenopause mean for you? Since your body will no longer produce
estrogen, you will continue to experience menopausal symptoms. Fortunately, over
time, these symptoms may decrease in intensity and frequency.
But even if these symptoms persist, that does not mean that you will have to endure the
consequences of low hormone levels.
So, how can you make this journey of menopause breezier for yourself?
● Address risk factors that worsen the symptoms of menopause. Factors such as
smoking, eating habits, alcohol consumption, or nutrient deficiencies affect
hormone levels and thus eventually menopausal symptoms. Foster a healthy
lifestyle by eating healthily and exercising regularly.
● Be aware of the health conditions that are affected by menopause. The drop in
estrogen levels increases your risk of other medical conditions such as
cardiovascular diseases and osteoarthritis.
● Watch out for the emotional and behavioral symptoms of menopause.
Menopause increases the risk of anxiety and depression, therefore, it is essential
to address declining mental health early on.
● Deal with insomnia. Many women observe changes in their sleep patterns during
menopause. So, to keep your mind healthy, tackle your sleep troubles to try to
get a goodnight's rest.
● Don't be afraid to try hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is the
mainstay of treatment for women dealing with persistent menopausal symptoms
that decrease the quality of life. Topical creams and vaginal suppositories do wonders to the body, especially for those dealing with vaginal dryness and atrophy. (ultimately improving your sex life)
Once you reach menopause or postmenopause, it will last for the rest of your life.
However, that does not mean that you are doomed to suffer this fate. Take charge early
on during the perimenopausal phase. Recognize the symptoms of low hormone levels
to manage the symptoms timely and take control of your life.
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