Introduction to Menopause and Menopausal Transition
Menopause is the cessation (stoppage) of monthly menses. Many women seem to dread the arrival of this phase of life and feel that life has now stopped. Menopause in their minds equals being old, sad, depressed, inactive, and affected by many diseases. The typical stoppage of periods to them means the end of sexuality and irregular periods bring in fear of diseases. Additionally, heavy menstrual bleeding equals cancer of the womb or the related organs, and these fears create a lot of frenzies.
Menopause is beautiful and lets us sees how!
What is menopause?
Stoppage of the monthly cycles for 6 months or more is labeled as menopause and is a sign that the production of estrogen and progesterone; hormones produced by the ovary is reduced. These hormones are essential for pregnancy and fertility. These functions naturally are a characteristic of the second and the third decade of life i.e. age of 20 to 40.
What is the regular age of menopause?
Indian women attain menopause by the age of 47 to 52 years on average. In some parts of the country, it is experienced around the age of 45 years
Is menopause sudden?
Usually, menopause is gradual. There may be a subtle change in the cycle with a gradual reduction in the frequency and the duration of the menstrual bleeding. Some women experience severely irregular cycles and some have missed periods followed by heavy menstrual bleeding. Some may have a sudden stoppage of menses.
Are there any signs and symptoms of menopause?
Increased weight, hot flashes ( suddenly feeling warm or cold and skin flushes, breaking into a sweat), increased irritability, increased vaginal burning and dryness, increased urinary frequency, forgetfulness, skin drying, hair thinning are all signs of menopause but all of them are quite nonspecific. Many other conditions can have similar symptoms.
How should I manage menopause?
There are some mantras to be adopted once you turn 40
• Eat-in moderation: include more proteins, pulses and fibers, and probiotics in your meals
• Increase your water intake
• Exercise regularly: alternate walks with muscle strengthening and cardio workouts. This will indirectly strengthen the bones
• Engage in recreational activities such as reading, writing, painting, dancing, etc:
• Share your knowledge, life - experiences with the younger generation and your family and friends
• Have a positive attitude and understand your own body and mind and take it as a positive transformation
• Accept your wisdom and maturity
• Be content, serene, and stable
Do I need to take any tests for menopause?
It’s a good practice to get a thorough checkup done with a clinician. It can be your birthday gift at 40.
• Metabolic screen for diabetes, anemia, thyroid disorders
• Physical check-up for breasts and the womb and the cervix
• Pelvic sonography and a Pap test from a gynecologist
• General checkup for weight and blood pressure
• Eyes sight and dental checkup
• It’s like servicing your car. If properly cared for you will be amazed how blessed our bodies are as humans
• Do I do any self-assessments?
Yes you can look for the following things and improvise
• Your weight, gait, posture
• Am I eating a protein -fiber-rich diet?
• Do I get angry or sad more often?
• Am I thinking well?
• Do I exercise?
• Do I need a doctor?
Menopause is actually a new lease of life. Children are grown and they look after you now, sometimes boss over you. You are of your free will and can now have your own dedicated time. Your thoughts are now stable and your emotions under control and this emanates confidence of maturity and wisdom.
This also is the time for giving back to the family and society. You may need to look after ailing oldies or other members, babysit the young children of your family or nurse the sick. If you have free time it’s a good practice to involve yourself in some social cause like guiding the adolescence or teaching the deprived class of the society. Finally, we owe everything to humanity and that will truly help you handle menopause well.
Dr. Girija Wagh