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EDUCATION CORNER

    Menopause

    Menopause is a normal process of aging in which the woman stops having her regular monthly periods. This stage of a woman’s life marks the end of her reproductive years as she cannot get pregnant anymore.


    The typical age for menopause in a woman is the late 40s to early 50s (menopause age). But it may vary from woman to woman as some can have early menopause or some may have late menopause.

     

    Before menopause, there is a stage called perimenopause, in which woman experiences symptoms that indicate the approach of menopause. In the perimenopause stage, woman experiences the following symptoms:


    • Irregular or skipping periods 
    • Vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort
    • Breast tenderness
    • Lower fertility
    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweat 
    • Racing heart
    • Disturbed sleep
    • Urinary problems
    • Irritability
    • Weight gain
    • Hair loss
    • Mood swings
    • Headaches
    • Changes in sexual desires etc. 


    As the perimenopausal stage ends, menopause follows that indicates less production of estrogen by the ovaries. The first and most indicative sign of menopause is the cessation of menstrual periods. Other menopause symptoms include the following: 



    Post-menopause stage arrives when many of the bothersome symptoms of perimenopause or menopause gradually decrease.


    Complications of menopause:


    Although menopause is a normal process of aging, but it also carries an increased risk of certain conditions like: 


    • Cardiovascular Diseases: CVD may occur after menopause due to decrease in estrogen levels. 
    • Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis can occur due to decreased bone density and lower estrogen levels in the body. 
    • Urinary incontinence: Due to decreased vaginal and urethral elasticity after menopause, it becomes difficult to hold urine. 
    • Cancer: Women are at higher risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer after menopause due to high hormone exposure. 

    Menopause symptoms can be controlled by menopause treatment, most common and effective being hormone replacement therapy (HRT). 

    HRT therapy 

    

    Hormone replacement therapy (also known as menopausal hormone therapy, hormone 

    therapy, or estrogen replacement therapy) is given to relieve menopausal symptoms. It involves the replacement of decreasing hormones. A woman is supplemented either with estrogen and progestin hormones or only estrogen hormone. It can be done through a simple patch (like estrogen patch) on the skin that releases hormones or can be taken as pills or can be topically applied in the form of cream, spray or gels, or can be applied vaginally.  HRT is highly effective for most of the symptoms which occur during menopause. There are benefits of HRT but there are risks too. 


    Benefits of HRT:

     

    • Effectively treats many troublesome menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness, disturbed sleep, reduced sex drive etc. 
    • Prevents osteoporosis 
    • Improves quality of life 
    • Lowers the risk of colorectal cancer 


    Risks of HRT :


    • Raises the risk of certain cancers like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. 
    • Increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. 
    • Can cause memory problems due to accelerated loss of tissue in the areas of the brain. important for thinking and memory. 
    Frequently Asked Questions

    Low dose birth control pills are safe as they provide low dose hormone that decreases in the perimenopausal stage. Also, the pills can prevent pregnancy, regulate heavy or irregular menstrual periods, prevent bone loss (osteoporosis) and can also give some protection from uterine or ovarian cancer. 

    The main reason for painful sex after menopause is vaginal dryness. You can either try HRT or use a vaginal lubricant before and after sex. Vaginal moisturizers can also be used to ease dryness. If these do not help, consult a gynecologist and she may prescribe better medications for vaginal dryness.

    Absolutely. It is indicated to take dietary supplements in the years of menopause to help the body deal with all the changes. With supplements, a well balanced diet is also equally important for healthy menopause

    Decreased estrogen and imbalance of other hormone levels are responsible for facial hair. Please visit your doctor and get a thorough check-up done to find out the cause of hair growth and take subsequent treatment for the same. 

    Hot flashes are normal during menopause. There is nothing preventive that you can do for them. But you can ease yourself by making a cool environment around you. Use a fan, AC or coolers to keep the heat away. Take deep breaths whenever you have hot flashes. You should also wear loose and lightweight clothes to facilitate easy breathing and cooling. If all these do not help, consult a doctor and get hot flashes treatment. 

    Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants are meant to manage vaginal dryness. Especially in menopause, most women experience dryness in the vagina due to decreasing estrogen levels. Vaginal moisturizers or lubricants are the best ways to manage it. 

    Weight gain can be due to various reasons like unhealthy eating, no or little physical activities, hormonal imbalance, aging etc. So, before you just zero down menopause as the reason for weight gain, it would be wise to either evaluate your diet and lifestyle habits or visit a doctor and get yourself examined for possible disorders.