MENOPAUSE is the complete stop of the menstrual cycle due to the end of active ovarian activity. Eggs stop ovulating and follicles no longer mature. On average, this occurs at the age of about 50 years. If a year has passed since the last cycle, a woman is considered to have gone through menopause.
The symptoms of the transition to menopause are very different, and there are various ways to cope with them. To live this stage most peacefully, it is helpful to know the following information.
Menstruation does not stop suddenly
Menopause is a process, not a single moment in time. Symptoms of menopause can appear slowly, peak, and then slowly diminish. The earliest stage of menopause is called perimenopause. During this period, menstruation is irregular and the possibility of getting pregnant decreases. When menstruation stops for a year, a woman goes from perimenopause to menopause. The adrenal glands continue to produce estrogen and progesterone, but their overall levels decrease.
Is it possible to predict when a woman will go into menopause?
Despite all medical advances, scientists cannot accurately predict when a woman will end her childbearing years because of individual differences. However, there are factors that can help determine when a woman will probably enter menopause. This information will be helpful to women who are most likely to enter early menopause and therefore at increased risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and osteoporosis.
Length of transition to menopause
Transition is a period of alternating short and long cycles and the appearance of the first hot flashes and night sweats. The length of the transition to menopause differs from woman to woman. Elevations in estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, irregular menstrual cycles and early menopausal symptoms mean that a woman is approaching menopause The periods gradually become irregular, they may last much less or, on the contrary, much longer than usual. But these biological factors are not the only ones to consider.
Factors approaching menopause
Recent studies have shown that lifestyle and sociodemographic factors are important: alcohol and tobacco use, relationship status, physical activity, and use of hormonal contraception.
During perimenopause, a woman may notice changes in her skin and hair. Changes can go from skin turgor decreasing, mood swings that are frequent, vaginal mucosa that becomes drier, frequent urge to urinate, and bones that become more brittle. Whatever the cause, these changes can be unpleasant. If they are sudden or too intense, don’t hesitate to see your doctor to find solutions that will ease your condition.
The symptoms of menopause are varied: hot flashes, sleeping problems…
Most women experience many symptoms during perimenopause. The most common are hot flashes, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, bladder weakness when exercising or sneezing, mood swings, loss of muscle mass and weight gain, and osteoporosis.
Sleep disturbances may contribute to weight gain during menopause
Weight gain is thought to be related to estrogen deficiency because menopause is a time of life when the ovaries decrease production of this sex hormone. But it is unlikely that estrogen is the only factor, since all women stop producing estrogen during menopause, and only half of them gain weight.
This finding led endocrinology researchers to wonder whether sleep disturbances during menopause, a symptom that affects about half of all women, might also be a significant contributor to weight gain. The results of their study, published in March 2021, support this hypothesis. The researchers found a significant decrease in the rate of fat metabolism by the participants’ bodies after three nights of disturbed sleep.
Solutions to better manage hormonal changes
Hormone treatments have been widely used for decades. But recent studies have noted significant side effects. Hormone medications are good for mood swings, dry vaginal mucosa, hot flashes, etc. However, hormone therapy increases the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, so physicians recommend that you use it very carefully. It is recommended to take time to discuss with the doctor to choose the best medications and their dosage. Hormone therapy at menopause is not necessary for everyone. Psychological support, regular exercise, a balanced diet, use of lubricant and a fixed sleep schedule can also reduce discomfort.
The risk of pregnancy exists during perimenopause
Just as menstruation does not end immediately, neither does fertility end. It doesn’t end until after menopause. Therefore, a woman can still ovulate, and the eggs may be healthy enough to cause a pregnancy. Contraceptives are recommended for one year after menstruation ends. Consult your doctor to find the best option.
Menopause and libido
The libido during perimenopause and the onset of menopause itself may behave differently: for some women it will fade, while for others, on the contrary, it will vividly and violently awaken, and for some it will not change at all. Often women say that after they let go of the fear of unwanted pregnancy, they began to have much more pleasure in sex, and their desire for intimacy has increased significantly.
For some women, the difficulty is accepting the changes associated with aging. As with any situation, the way a person reacts to the change will affect their body and emotions. If you are experiencing psychological difficulties during this transition period, a therapist can help you find inner balance. Menopause is not a “disease” that requires treatment. It is a normal, natural and physiological process for women.
At our Health and Prevention Center you can be examined for menopause. After the examination our doctor will give you all the necessary recommendations for the most harmonious passing of this stage of life.
Take care of your health!