Menopause is a natural process in women, which marks the end stage of your menstrual period. It is expected when you have experienced no menstruation for 12 months. It occurs when the female's hormone stops producing the ovulation process.
At this stage, the woman is declared infertile as she becomes unable to get pregnant.
Menopause is not a disease and occurs in every woman after 50 years of age. However, some females experience menopause symptoms in the early stages of life which is called premature menopause or early menopause.
Factors such as family history, smoking, autoimmune disease and ethnicity are responsible for premature menopause.
Prevalence of menopause symptoms
Menopause symptoms are a natural phenomenon and appear in every woman's life after 50 years of age. In the UK, the average age of menopause symptoms is 51. But around 2 in 100 females experience menopause symptoms before 45 years of age.
In a few cases, menopause has been experienced before 35 years of age. However, many factors can affect the early diagnosis of menopause.
Stages of menopause
There are three main stages of menopause.
Perimenopause symptoms begin early at the age of 30. It is started when you notice a delay in your menstrual cycles.
There is a sudden increase in the level of oestrogen and progesterone hormones. Common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, memory, and sleep problems. This stage is also called menopausal transition.
To view our perimenopause test, click here.
The menopause stage develops at the age of 45 to 50. It occurs when there is a complete absence of the menstrual cycle. At this stage, full menopausal symptoms have appeared in the women, and your ovaries stop releasing eggs.
To test for menopause, you can see our at-home blood test by clicking here.
3. Post menopause
This stage occurs after menopause and lasts for the rest of your life. Women in this stage are at an increased risk of diseases like osteoporosis and heart disease.
Higher risk factors for menopausal women
1. Decreased production of oestrogen and progesterone
Oestrogen and progesterone are hormones that control the menstrual periods and release eggs from the ovaries. When there is a decline in the production of these hormones, then menopause happens.
Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of ovaries from the female body. In the absence of ovaries in your body, there is no production of hormones to regulate menstrual periods.
3. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is used for cancer treatment which may induce menopause.
4. Primary ovarian insufficiency
Primary ovarian insufficiency is the main cause of premature menopause. It occurs at the early stage of life in females.
This insufficiency may occur due to autoimmune diseases. In such conditions, the ovaries are congenitally missing.
Following are some menopause symptoms.
1. Vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause. It is also called vaginal atrophy. Menopause makes the vaginal mucosa thinner and irritable.
Your doctor may recommend different lotions to lubricate the vagina and end the vaginal dryness.
2. Irregular periods
Menopause disturbs your period's cycle. Sometimes the cycle lasts for a longer time, while next time, it lasts for a short time.
These irregularities occur due to menopausal hormonal changes. Some females may miss their periods. These symptoms occur during the perimenopause stage of menopause.
3. Hot flashes
Hot flushes are the feeling of warmth, most commonly occurring on the upper part of the body. The skin becomes red, and sharp temperature increases occur.
It is the hallmark sign of menopause that almost every female experiences during their menopausal stage. It is the response of the skin to hormonal change.
4. Sleep apnoea and night sweats
Insomnia has been reported in some women who are passing through the menopausal stage of life. Sleep disturbance occurs due to sudden abrupt changes in your hormones.
Along with sleep problems, night sweats also occur due to temperature changes.
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5. Hair loss
Oestrogen and progesterone help produce the hair follicle, strengthening your hair and preventing it from falling.
In menopause, there is a decline in the level of these hormones, which consequently leads to the weakening of your hair. Hair is the beauty of the female body, and it may lead the female to anxiety and depression.
To learn more about hair loss, see here.
6. Other menopause symptoms
a. Joint and muscle aches
b. Mood swings
c. Cold flashes and night sweats, e. Hot flashes
d. Painful intercourse
e. Memory problems
Complications of menopause
Following health risks occur in women who experience menopause early
1. Cardiovascular disease
Women with low oestrogen hormone levels are at higher risk of developing heart diseases.
The cholesterol level in your blood becomes high and accumulates in the heart's blood vessels when the menstrual cycle stops.
Such a condition reduces the blood flow toward cardiac muscles. Therefore regular exercise is recommended to normalise your cholesterol level.
Osteoporosis is considered the most common health complication related to the postmenopausal stage. This condition makes your bone bristles prone to fracture easily.
The hormonal imbalance during menopause makes the bone structure vulnerable.
The commonly affected bones by osteoporosis are the backbone, wrist bones, and long bones of the legs. Osteoporosis occurs during an early stage of menopause.
3. Urination problems
Menopause causes thinning of the vaginal mucosa, which leads to loss of elasticity. These changes may cause involuntary urination.
Along with urinary incontinence, some females also experience urinary tract infections because the dry vagina creates a favourable environment for the growth of bacteria.
Kegel exercise is recommended to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and relieve the symptoms of urine urgency.
4. Weight gain
Due to the low metabolism process, many women gain weight during their menopausal stage. Therefore, you should eat a balanced diet to maintain a normal weight after menopause and eliminate weight gain.
Menopause is an ageing process and recovery to normal menstrual periods is impossible. However, treatment is given to overcome the menopausal symptoms and complications. If you experience sudden illness, you need to seek medical advice from a healthcare provider.
For vaginal dryness, the doctor recommends different creams to relieve vaginal dryness. Anti-fungal medications are also applied to reduce the chance of fungal infection.
Similarly, healthcare providers advise strengthening pelvic floor muscles to stop involuntary urination for urinary incontinence.
A healthy diet and exercise are also needed for the woman who experiences menopause symptoms to maintain a healthy weight and get rid of heart diseases.
If you wish to test for menopause, click here.
Or, to learn more about menopause and see our range of treatment options, including hormone replacement therapies, click here.
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