Female menopause occurs because estrogen and progesterone levels decrease and as a consequence of this the production of ova stop. There is a permanent cessation of menstruation and a woman will no longer be able to conceive.
This is a time when a woman feels that her essence of femininity is diminishing and as it is accompanied by quite a few physical and emotional changes it can be an overpowering time for her.
Menopause generally takes place between the ages of 45 and 60 though it can start as early as 35 and even after 60. (In some rare cases young girls of 19 and 20 experience it, in which case they need to look for a further cause.) It can continue for a couple of years or carry on for five or six years.
There will be changes in the menstruation cycle either heavier or scanty periods. There may be delays or shorter gaps between cycles. Sometimes, it can just stop without any prior indication.
You will experience hot flushes in different degrees of acuteness. You may feel like stepping out into fresh air or suddenly be swamped by the shivers.
These flushes can happen up to four or five times a day and continue for a few minutes or seconds. You can even get them at night in the form of sweats and be completely drenched.
Your sleeping pattern will be disturbed, in part due to the night sweats and because insomnia will set it. The repercussions of this are that you may feel exhausted and lethargic during the day.
The loss of estrogen means that the skin will find it difficult to maintain moisture so itchy and dry skin is a possibility. You will also be prone to joint pain, backaches and headaches.
Apart from the physical symptoms, some women experience emotional mood swings. You will feel irritable and teary without reason and may even go through bouts of depression.
Memory problems are another factor you may have to contend with as well as a lack of concentration. There could be a loss in libido because of the decrease in the levels of female hormones.
To offset the symptoms of menopause you must include a lot of calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Ask your doctor to recommend these supplements for you as there is a risk of osteoporosis with the loss of estrogen.
Essential fatty acids help with dry skin and joint pains and these can be found in dark green vegetables, nuts, and fish. Soya is a good nutritional supplement as well. Vitamin E and evening primrose oil are sometimes advised to help with the hot flushes.
You can try hormonal replacement therapy on your physician’s advice as it will help your body through the process of menopause. Try meditation and relaxation therapies such as aromatherapy to adjust to these changes in your body.
Menopause is different for different women. Talk to older women who have had menopause and they can give you tips on how to sail smoothly through this phase in your life. Treat it as a positive and enriching experience.