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.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

PTSD: Quiz & Kindness

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Those of you who have joined me on Instagram know already that I have taken up a 25 pushups for 25 days challenge (no breaks in between!). The first two days were hard and I felt out of form but today was the 5th day and I am catching up fast. Did 25 non-stop diamond push-ups today, yay!

I took up the challenge for two reasons:

  1. I needed to get out of my comfort zone
  2. PTSD

It has been almost 4 months since I last did a good HIIT work-out at the gym and though I have shifted my focus to Yoga mostly these past few months, I do miss the heavy-duty workouts. Having said that, Yoga is what’s keeping me calm and positive. It is slow and along with a day full of house-chores and kids, is sustainable on a regular basis!

What are you doing to stay fit and calm these days? Do let me know!

Coming back to the second reason, the challenge also stands for a good cause. The challenge is promoted by Dr. Sione Vaka, New Zealand to raise awareness about PTSD.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic, terrifying event – by experience or by being a mere witness. A traumatic event can bring on severe anxiety and related symptoms. Time heals everything in many cases and with good self-care as well as a good support system, the symptoms fade.

If the symptoms get worse and/or last for a longer period of time, it might be PTSD and getting a proper treatment becomes critical for such people.

What Can Cause PTSD

Stressful experiences, a high-stress job, a death or its threat, severe injury/life-threatening event or sexual violations are generally the main triggers of PTSD. It can also be in the person’s family history i.e. inherited.

Symptoms  for PTSD

When the traumatic event starts affecting negatively the day-to-day functioning of a person and social interactions, it is time to seek professional help. The symptoms and their degree can vary from one person to another, suicidal thoughts being an extreme stage. Depression, anxiety, substance-abuse, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts are among the severe symptoms of PTSD.

PTSD screening Quiz

I have found a PTSD screening quiz online and you can take it to screen yourself or someone else, for it. It’s just 6 questions long and the credit to the quiz goes to the website.

Let Us Take A Pledge

To not call people suffering from metal illnesses ‘weak’ and rating ourselves any better to them! The person seeking professional help is actually a brave person who has the wisdom to accept the problems and face the challenges head-on, giving it her/his best shot. It isn’t easy to do that.

Do we think people suffering from Covid-19 or viral fever or dengue or even cancer, weak? No, right? Then why treat people who suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD any different? If we can’t do anything else, at least be kind and keep to ourselves rather than judging and making it harder for them.

Come, join me on Instagram to take up the challenge with me or to just spread awareness/support people suffering from mental illnesses…or just be kind!

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health and Peace