Part 1: Understanding Menopause

Hi Friends

Happy Friday! How are you all?

Today’s post is something that I have recently researched a lot on. One of my close friends is undergoing a ‘surgical menopause‘ (due to ovarian cyst) and the sudden stopping of hormone supply in her body has left her very disturbed: physically and mentally. The symptoms associated with menopause is what makes the word itself scary, to me and I am sure, to everyone else.

I am a strict follower of the notion that most of our life-problems can be cured/reversed/prevented/managed/maintained through suitable nutrition combined with some lifestyle changes (which invariably includes physical fitness). This belief led me to read and research more on menopause and related things – which I now want to share with you.

I am sure it is important for women to know what to expect so as to cope better when menopause happens. And it is equally important for men too , in order to be supportive when it happens.

First, What Is Menopause?

Menopause is the final period for a woman which occurs when ovaries stop producing the governing hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. It is considered confirmed when no periods happen for 12 consecutive months.  It is not a reversible process.

I have seen many friends and family members including my mom, go through it and experiencing a lot of discomfort, due to it all.

Did You Know?

Like the start of periods, to predict someone’s menopausal age, it is often said to look at the mother. The daughter is more likely to get both – periods and menopause, at the same age as her mother. So, genetics works yes. Do you also know that ‘genetics’ can be changed by nutrition and physical fitness? But more on that, some other day!

Types/Causes of Menopause

  • Naturally Occurring – Most common form, natural menopause happens between the age of 40 to 58. It happens gradually over a period of years – ranging from 4 to 10 years
  • Premature Menopause – Happens before the age of 40, premature menopause is considered abnormal and is often associated with autoimmune disorders as well as increased risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Induced Menopause – Happens when ovaries get injured in some way or with chemotherapy, radiation or a surgery. Induced or surgical menopause is sudden and the symptoms could be intense, as you are left unprepared

Other Associated Terms

  • Perimenopause – starts happening in 40s commonly. Might induce weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods etc. Since menopause doesn’t happen overnight normally, the ovaries gradually decrease the production of hormones. This gradual process can take several years and is often referred to as menopausal transition, average being 4 years. Some months, the hormone production could be normal, in some not so normal. However, many women do not get any symptoms till actual menopause
  • Premenopause – no changes or symptoms per say, just a gradual shift in the body/hormones
  • Postmenopause – means the period after menopause

Menopausal Symptoms – Different for every woman and ranging from mild to severe, menopausal (or perimenopausal) symptoms include:

  • Lighter and irregular periods in general
  • Hot flashes/flushes – ranging from moderate to severe, these could also bring anxiety or heart palpitations/racing heart issues. Lasting for 1-5 minutes and can occur once every day….to many per day!
  • Vaginal dryness – due to a lack of oestrogen, the walls lose moisture as well as volume and become dry, getting easily irritated
  • Dry skin, mouth and eyes
  • Disturbed sleep, insomnia, night sweating etc
  • Emotional symptoms – anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • Weight gain – especially in waist region, this type of weight gain is quite unhealthy and increases the risk of heart concerns
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Tender breasts
  • UTIs and urinary-inconsistency
  • Headaches
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Hair thinning/loss on head
  • Joint pains

The first thing to do when one start experiencing menopausal or premenopausal symptoms, is to see a good gynaecologist. When I say good, I mean someone who would be patient enough to explain everything and answer all our queries. It is a taxing time for women – physically and mentally, both. A difficult or ‘too busy’ doctor would be the last thing we would want, right?

There are various tests to confirm the menopause process which the doctor might suggest. Also, you already might be on certain medications or might require additional investigation for let’s say, thyroid etc.

In The End

Menopause is simply a part of the process of getting older, not a disease. The good news is that in naturally occurring menopause, most women do not require any medical treatment. One can always discuss hormone-replacement therapies and other medication (for severe symptoms) as well as supplements (calcium/D3 etc) with their gynaecologist, if needed.

One would also benefit greatly with certain lifestyle changes such as a good, balanced diet, meditation and some sort of physical activities. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol-intake helps too. Some strength-training would be great as we start losing muscles as well as have weaker bones now. Make sure to talk to a mental health expert in case you face any sort of stress that you feel unable to cope with, on your own.

This was all for today’s post on the basics of menopause. In the next post, let’s discuss various things/changes and foods (including phytoestrogens) that might help with the menopausal/perimenopausal symptoms once you are through with your preliminary visit to the gynaecologist in this regard.

Meanwhile if you are interested in understanding olive oil and various facts/myths associated with it, do keep checking my Instagram stories.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

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