What is Menopause? Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
The term menopause literally means “end of monthly cycles.” To put it in other words – menopause is precisely the last menstrual cycle of a woman. The word menopause is derived from the Greek word pause that means cessation.
A woman is said to reach menopause when she does not have her menstrual cycle for twelve consecutive months. Normally a woman reaches her menopause in her fifties but 1% of women have menopause before that and it is termed as premature menopause. In fact, about .01% of women reach their menopause even before they reach thirty years of age.
Causes of Menopause
Normally a woman is born with about one to three million eggs that she loses throughout her life. Most of these eggs are degenerated in course of time and few are lost through menstruation.
By the time one reaches her first menstrual cycle she has about four hundred thousand eggs and when she reaches her menopause she has about one thousands eggs left in her body. It is the FSH or follicle stimulating hormone that is responsible for the release of ova or egg from the follicle during a menstrual cycle in a fertile woman.
As the woman ages and approaches, her menopause the eggs become resistant to FSH and as a result ovulation does not occur anymore and the ovary stops producing estrogen and progesterone. This is the reason that stops the regular menstrual cycle and marks menopause in a woman.
Symptoms of Menopause
There is a fall in production of estrogen and progesterone hormone in the ovary of a woman who has already reached menopause. These changes in a hormonal level often result in some physical and emotional changes in a woman’s body. These effects are termed as symptoms of menopause.
Though menopause can be marked on a specific date, menopause symptoms start to show up well before the woman actually reaches menopause and these symptoms stay during the post-menopause phase as well.
It is estimated that eight out of ten women experience menopause symptoms. Though the nature and extent of menopause symptoms varies from one woman to the other, the most common menopause symptoms are as follows,
Urinary incontinence is a major problem of menopause that results from the loss of elasticity of the muscles and tissues in the pelvic area.
Hot flushes and feeling of shivering right after the hot flush is a common symptom of menopause. Most of the women feel this about four to five times a day and the feeling lasts for a minute. Hot flushed during night time can cause sweating as well.
After menopause vaginal elasticity is also decreased that results in vaginal dryness that makes sexual intercourse painful and uncomfortable.
Dry and itchy skin is a common problem among the women who have reached menopause. This happens as the decreased level of estrogen minimizes the ability of skin to retain moisturizer.
The low level of estrogen also results in joint pains, muscle pains, and headaches.
The lower level of estrogen and night sweats disturbs the normal sleeping pattern that can even induce insomnia. Lack of sleep also creates chronic and fatigue and tiredness.
Due to the change in hormonal pattern mood swings and depression is common in menopause.
Treatment of Menopause
Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is the most common treatment of menopausal symptoms. This helps to get adjusted to the changed hormonal pattern after menopause.
There are so many herbal medicines that are also used as a natural remedy for menopause symptoms.
Regular exercise, balanced diet, proper nutrients and a healthy lifestyle can reduce and eliminate most of the menopausal symptoms.