Stages of Menopause
Menopause is the stage a woman goes through when her monthly menstrual cycle finally comes to a full stop. This happens when the ovaries of a woman stop releasing eggs and stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Find out more about menopause treatment, symptoms and more, here.
The average age of menopause in the Philippines is around 48 years old, although it can happen earlier or much later in life. The stages leading to menopause can manifest about five years earlier from the menopause itself. Technically speaking, menopause is the absence of menstruation for 12 months. And it is only finalized when a woman stops having her monthly cycle for over a year.
The 3 Stages of Menopause
This is when a woman’s body begins to naturally transition to menopausal stage. This is the time when the menstrual cycle starts to change (usually becoming less frequent, or shorter than before). This phase lasts an average of four years and ends when you have your final period.
Natural menopause is a spontaneous, permanent process. By this point, there is an absence of menstruation for 12 months straight. A woman can also enter menopause surgically or medically.
These are the years after you’ve officially entered menopause. You may start to feel normal and energetic again once you’ve hit this stage.
Signs and Symptoms
There are many symptoms to indicate that a woman is about to enter menopause. Some of the symptoms go unnoticed while other symptoms can wreak havoc in your life.
Different women experience different combinations of symptoms which is why different treatments are also recommended, depending on the symptoms that you feel.
Some of the more common symptoms are as follows.
Symptoms of the Different Stages of Menopause
This symptom causes a rising redness on the chest, neck, and face that makes a woman feel overheated and very sweaty. It can make a woman feel irritated because of the overheating sensation. 75% of women going through menopause experience this during the perimenopausal stage.
Since the natural lubrication of the vagina is produced by estrogen and estrogen is the hormone that is no longer produced by your body during menopause, and this is why vaginal dryness happens.
It can become uncomfortable or painful when having sexual intercourse, but this can be easily remedied with lubricants. This usually begins a few years after menopause.
Night sweats and sleep problems
Hot flashes are more common at night than the daytime. When they happen during sleep, they are called “night sweats.” Night sweats may cause profuse sweating and sleep interruptions because you are too hot or cold.
This can happen one or more times per night. As a result of sleep deprivation, many women develop other problems, such as irritability, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and mood swings.
Many women going through menopause experience weight gain mainly because any change in hormones can affect the weight. This can be combated with healthy eating and exercise.
Women who are about to have their monthly cycle feel bloated, but when you are going through menopause, the feeling of being bloated never goes away.
This happens when menopause begins. Bone density drops by 20% and can lead to brittle bones, nails, and teeth. To make up for the bone density loss, add more calcium to your diet or take calcium supplements.
This symptom goes beyond the usual irritability and mood swings that you may experience during your period. This may even include depression.
During the menopausal transition, many women develop new problems with mood, such as sadness, difficulty concentrating, feeling uninterested in normal activities, and sleeping too much or having trouble staying asleep.
There are other symptoms of menopause but these are the more common ones. Not every woman will feel all these different symptoms.
Treatment and Home Remedies
Although menopause is not a disease, it can be very uncomfortable for a woman. Women going through menopause should consult with their doctor on how to make the transition easier.
Hormone therapy is one of the treatments given to women going through menopause. This helps to balance out the hormonal imbalance a woman goes through by providing supplemental estrogen and a synthetic version of progesterone.
The downside of using hormone therapy is that it can’t be used if you or any member of your family has breast cancer, liver disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, blood clots, heart disease, or high levels of triglycerides in the blood as this could increase the risk.
Other forms of treatment that can be recommended by your doctor are over the counter gels for vaginal dryness. They can also recommend Other non-hormonal options are supplements such as those containing black cohosh, ginseng, and dong quai.
For mood swings and hot flashes, you may be given a prescription for low-dose hormonal birth control pills or low-dose antidepressants.
To know which treatment is best for you, please consult with your doctor.
Coping with Menopause
To cope with the different stages of menopause, it’s important to address both physical and emotional needs. Since menopause is a transition phase for a woman signaling the end of another chapter in her life, it can be quite jarring. Aside from the physical discomfort, it takes an emotional toll on most women.
Here are some tips that you can do to make this transition phase easier not just physically but emotionally as well:
Ease Hot flashes and night sweats
- Dress in layers so you can take off clothes if you get hot
- Keep the thermostat down and avoid hot drinks, such as coffee or tea
- Put a cold, wet washcloth against your neck during hot flashes,
- Quit smoking, if you smoke. (Smoking can worsen hot flashes.)
Manage Anxiety and Mood Swings
- If you are experiencing anxiety and mood swings that affect your relationship with other people, particularly your family, it is recommended that you seek counselling to help you handle the changes in a more positive manner.
- Form a support group of people that you can talk to about the different symptoms you are feeling. It helps knowing that other people are going through the same things as you are.
Since your body is going through major changes, getting enough sleep and being able to free yourself from stress can greatly help the transition. Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even when you don’t sleep well. (Taking naps can make the problem worse.)
Physical and mental exercises are needed at this stage so make sure you are getting enough physical exercise to keep the blood flowing. Practice deep breathing exercises to center yourself and help relax the body.
Make sure you have a healthy diet that contains a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and don’t drink much alcohol.
Take up new hobbies
Discovering a new hobby or find something new to do to distract yourself from the changes that are happening within your body and to gather some sense of control.
Menopause may be a physically and mentally draining stage that a woman goes through, but with the right support system as well as other medications and natural treatment, this transition does not have to be uncomfortable.
Consult with your doctor once you feel the symptoms so that your doctor can provide appropriate menopause treatment and guide you on how to best make the menopausal stage more bearable so you can continue to enjoy your life.
Learn more about women’s health issues, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.