There is a reason that menopause is often referred to as ?the change.? It is after all a huge change for a woman?s bodies that carries with it a powerful physical and psychological toll. Not only does it herald the end of menstrual cycles (a cause for some amount of cheering) it is also the harbinger of the end of youth or the onset of age, which results in some rather mixed emotions.
When the ovaries quite producing estrogen, the reproductive system begins to essentially close up shop. This process is what is considered menopause.
As your body adjusts to the changes taking places, it creates certain ?coping mechanisms? in order to process these changes in hormone levels. The coping mechanisms that your body creates are known as the symptoms of menopause. These symptoms include:
1) Hot flashes, sometimes accompanied by palpitations.
2) Extreme irritability, mood swings, depression, and inability to concentrate
3) Vaginal dryness and increasing urinary frequency accompanied by decreasing and erratic menstrual cycles.
So what is Menopause?
Technically, menopause is the term used to describe the ending of the monthly menstrual cycle. The process can last anywhere from six months to five years while one year is the common length of time. It is important to remember that the duration will vary between women. Another important thing to note is that menopause is not an illness or a disease but a natural progression in the cycle of life. Menopause can be surgically produced when the ovaries are removed during a hysterectomy.
When Does Menopause Occur?
The average age at which menopause occurs is 50.5 years, however some women enter into the process much earlier. Cancer sufferers and those who have received chemotherapy often experience an early onset of menopausal symptoms. Other things that can bring on early menopause include autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and diabetes mellitus. Early menopause is typically defined as menopause that occurs before the age of 40. The actual onset of premature menopause can be formally diagnosed through the measurements of certain hormones within the body.
One of the most common risks or problems associated with menopause is the increased loss of bone known as osteoporosis. Special care and attention should be paid, especially to women who are particularly vulnerable or at risk for developing this condition.
During the early stages of menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone lessen and menstrual cycles become increasingly irregular. Fertility and the ability to have children also tend to decrease during this process as well.
Some Common Treatments for Menopause are:
1) Hormone replacement therapy also known as HRT
2) Alternative therapies
3) Natural remedies
4) Lifestyle changes (fitness and dietary changes)
5) Nutritional supplements
It is important to note that according to a Women?s Health Initiative study, women who participate in HRT are at a much higher risk for certain diseases. It is vitally important that you discuss the risks and advantages involved in this type of therapy with your physician in order to make an informed decision.