Menopause is the point in a woman’s life when she has not had her period for 1 year. It marks the end of the childbearing years. It’s sometimes referred to as “the change.” Periods may occur infrequently over some years until they stop altogether, or they may stop completely all at once. Menopause is a natural part of the female aging process.
As your egg supply ages, your body begins to ovulate less often. During this time, your hormone levels go up and down unevenly (fluctuate), causing changes in your periods and other symptoms in time, Oestrogen and Progesterone levels drop enough that the menstrual cycle stops. It takes place between the ages of 45 to 55, however in rarer instances it can take place before the age of 40.
Menopause is a natural occurrence and will not need special treatment unless your symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your day-to day life. (Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed in these instances.)
Common symptoms include:
- Irregular periods. Some women have light periods. Others have heavy bleeding. Your menstrual cycle may be longer or shorter, or you may skip periods.
- Hot flushes.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
- Emotional changes. Some women have mood swings or feel grouchy, depressed, or worried.
- Feeling that your heart is beating too fast or unevenly (palpitations).
- Problems with remembering or thinking clearly.
- Vaginal dryness.
The first step to effectively manage symptoms of menopause is to have a healthy lifestyle. This can help reduce symptoms and lower your risk of heart disease and other long-term problems related to aging.
Lifestyle changes and tips to consider:
- Make a special effort to eat well.Choose a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat. It should include plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and high-fibre grains and breads.
- Eat a nutritious diet and be sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D and magnesium to help your bones stay strong. Spinach, avocado and live yoghurts are all rich magnesium and calcium.
- Get regular exercise.Exercise can help you manage your weight, keep your heart and bones strong, and lift your mood.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, and stress. These things can make symptoms worse. Limiting them may help you sleep better and relieve hot flushes.
- If you smoke, stop. Quitting smoking can reduce hot flashes and long-term health risks.
- Improve bladder control with regular pelvic floor exercises.
- Pay attention to how menopause if affecting your mental health. Have a support network and seek help as needed (You can ask your GP for a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) referral.)
- Try focussed relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and yoga. These can be helpful to reduce hot flushes.
- Relieve hot flushes by staying cool. Keep your area cool. Use a fan. Dress in layers- then you can remove clothes as needed. Wear natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk. Drink cold drinks. Eat smaller regular meals instead of big heavy ones.
Healthwise: Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated. Content shall not be further distributed. The information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty and all liability for your use of this information. ©1997–2018, Healthwise, Incorporated.