When women talk of menopause, what they actually mean is peri-menopause. This is the period in a woman’s life when she is transitioning from being pre-menopausal where she is at the peak of her fertility with all her hormones being at their peak to the menopause time when the reproductive hormones are depleted and she is no longer fertile.
It is this fluctuation in the secretion of hormones in a woman’s body that causes a lot of uncomfortable symptoms. All the while the body has relied on these hormones for the proper functioning of the body systems; when the body is deprived of these hormones, then the individual suffers something close to a ‘withdrawal’. This comes in the form of menopausal symptoms. There are so many menopausal symptoms; we will take a look at some of the critical ones.
Among the many menopausal symptoms, vaginal dryness is the one that is most associated with menopause. This is where the vagina becomes dry, itchy, thin and less elastic so that sexual intercourse becomes a painful experience as the vagina walls are prone to tear and eventually the woman bleeds during intercourse.
The presence of estrogen in the body helps the vaginal lining to be more elastic, lubricated and thick; a condition which makes the sexual experience enjoyable. But with lack of estrogen, the vaginal lining loses its ability to be moist, elastic and thick so the woman suffers vaginal dryness.
Hot flashes are episodes of intense heat that engulfs a menopausal woman especially at night or when exposed to undesirable conditions. They are more often than not followed by a cool sensation that could also lead to another hot flash. This is one of the most dreaded symptoms of menopause as it is quite uncomfortable. A woman is better off sleeping in a cool room or with a cool wet towel to wipe off the intense heat.
It is not clear yet if the night sweats are the result of the hot flashes or are an independent menopause symptom. The woman often undergoes intense sweating episodes that leave her clothing and even sheets all wet. While this is uncomfortable, it would be helpful to dress in absorbent clothes and also have sheets made of absorbent material. A cool or even wet towel could come in handy to wipe off the sweat.
The brain too is affected by the lack of sufficient estrogen levels in the body. Just like there are estrogen receptors in the rest of the body, the brain too has estrogen receptors. When estrogen is deficient, this leads to the loss of memory among menopausal women. They may not easily remember where they placed something, or who is the lead character of their favorite movie or items on their grocery list.
Urinary incontinence is a condition where a menopausal woman has an involuntary flow of urine. The estrogen hormone is so crucial in maintaining the lining and muscles of the urinary tract so that they are elastic enough to hold onto urine until such a time when the woman can comfortably release the urine. With very little presence of estrogen these muscles and lining are not elastic; a situation that leads to involuntary flow of urine. Doing exercises like kegel exercises, having a lifestyle change and seeking menopause treatments could help combat this situation. It is important to be sure of the cause of the condition as there are other causes for this condition.
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone density and strength are compromised. With the onset of menopause, a woman undergoes bone loss so that the rate of losing bone is not the same as the rate of bone creation. Women need to take more menopausal supplements like calcium supplements to help with more bone creation. Doing exercises like strength building exercises and flexibility exercises is crucial to not only strengthening the bones but also reduce the likelihood of a fracture in case of a fall or injury.
Anxiety, stress and depression
Due to the reduction in estrogen supply, the nervous system and even the brain are affected. This is why women at menopause are more prone to anxiety, stress and depression. Those who interact with such women would often complain of the women being irritable. It is important to do regular exercises for the woman as they help alleviate stress and depression. Endeavor to keep a positive attitude by keeping a journal of positive things that have happened to you.
There are many other menopausal symptoms which affect a menopausal women all of which can be handled through lifestyle change, alternative medicine and menopause treatments that are hormone based.