Menopause occurs when a woman permanently stops menstruating. The most common age range at which women experience menopause is 48-55 years. If menopause occurs in a woman younger than 40 years, it is considered premature. Menopause is considered late if it occurs in a woman older than 55 years. For most women, menopause is a normal occurrence.
What is perimenopause ?
The hormonal changes associated with menopause actually begin prior to the last menstrual period, during a three year period called perimenopause. During this transition, women may begin to experience menopausal symptoms and may lose bone density, even though they are still menstruating.
Why does menopause occur?
Every baby girl is born with many millions of eggs in her pair of ovaries. These eggs are nurtured by FSH or follicle stimulating hormone. As the age of the girl advances, these eggs reduce in number. Some of them are lost in the process of menstruation and many others die out. When the number of eggs in the ovaries is as low as a few thousands, the capacity of these eggs to function to their best is limited and perhaps even negligible. Moreover they also become resistant to FSH.
In addition to the reduction in the number of functional eggs in the ovaries, the production of estrogen and testosterone in the lady’s body is also inhibited. These are reproductive hormones in the human body which result in lady like characters and testosterone is the key to good sex life.
As a result of the above discussed changes, the female body undergoes a number of changes and her reproductive life comes to an end. This is menopause.
Symptoms of menopause
According to some studies, hot flushes occur in as many as 75% of perimenopausal women. The symptoms vary among women. Commonly, the hot flush may begin with a feeling of nausea or a headache, followed by a wave of heat, flushed skin, and palpitations (feeling a strong heartbeat). You may notice an increase in pulse rate and the temperature of your skin rises, which could cause insomnia.
Urinary incontinence :
There is a loss of control on urine release. In some cases, burning sensations while urinating is also experienced.
As oestrogen affects the lining of the vagina, peri-menopausal women might experience painful intercourse and some changes in discharges from the vagina.
Menopause may cause changes in the shape of the breasts.
Thinning of the skin
The moisture and oil content of skin is lost and the skin starts sagging and thinning
Bone loss can happen during the perimenopausal stage, which can cause osteoporosis, a condition that increases the risk of bone fractures. These fractures can be intensely painful and can interfere with daily life. They also can increase the risk of death.
Cholesterol profiles also change significantly at the time of menopause. Total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol increase. This is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
A 3-year study of healthy women nearing menopause found an average gain of 5 pounds during the 3 years. Hormonal changes and aging are both possible factors in this weight gain.
Diet in menopause
Postmenopausal women not on estrogen therapy should consume 1,500 mg of calcium daily to prevent loss of bone mineral density. Women on estrogen therapy should consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium daily.
The least expensive way to obtain calcium is through diet. Diet can easily provide 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily. All dairy food items, calcium fortifies juices and sea food like fish are rich in calcium.