2011 is World Menopause Day. It is a time to
dwell on understanding the health-care issues of women, particularly older
Menopause is usually never addressed and it is distressing
to find that there are so many misconceptions regarding this natural
phenomenon. World Menopause Day (WMD) would be an apt day to address these
issues and to increase more awareness regarding this unavoidable phase in a
What is menopause?
Menopause is that period in a woman's life when her
menstruation tapers off and gradually comes to an end. It is a transition
period, when her ovaries stop producing eggs, and when her estrogen and
progesterone -producing capacity is remarkably reduced.
Menopause occurs naturally and usually occurs between the
ages of 45 and 55.After menopause (postmenopause) a person is no longer at the risk of falling
pregnant if she has no menses continually for one year.
Once a woman attains menopause she is tormented by a few
symptoms such as hot flashes, palpitations, night sweats, mood swings,
headaches, sleeplessness and forgetfulness
but the gradual decrease of estrogen
allows her to get acclimatized to the changes.
As a result of low estrogen, changes will be brought about
which may affect a woman's life particularly her sexual life. The walls of her
vagina become thinner, drier and less elastic. She may not lubricate as she did
before and her vaginal secretions become watery. The outer labia becomes
thinner and atrophied. Due to these reasons, a woman's interest in sex life may
decrease and she may not respond to sexual stimuli as she used to.
A simple blood or urine test carried out to evaluate the
levels of Estradiol, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH)
will help to diagnose menopause.
Treatment of menopause symptoms is usually through Hormone therapy (HT), involving
administration of estrogen. HT comes with its side effects such as breast and
uterine cancer, stroke, clot and heart attacks. If a woman with uterus is
administered estrogen as part of HT, she may need to take progesterone as well
to prevent endometrial cancer. This is not necessary for women without uterus.
Patient's medical history must be considered and the pros
and cons discussed, before employing HT as a treatment option. Other
medications, that are alternatives to HT, are also available.
A menopausal woman may also have other issues like low bone
density, which increases her risk for osteoporosis.
Carrying out exams like mammograms and
Pap smears may also be beneficial.
Any post-menopausal bleeding must be immediately addressed
by a health specialist as it may be a sign of cancer.
Menopause cannot be prevented. The only thing that can be
done is to relive the symptoms.
Some lifestyle tips
to handle menopause symptoms-
• Avoid caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol
• Eat soy foods
• Take your regular dose of calcium and vitamin D
• Dress lightly
• Practice slow breathing during hot flashes
• Practice a relaxation technique such as yoga everyday.
• Engage in sex whenever possible
• Exercise well particularly kegel exercises that are pelvic floor strengthening
There is life after menopause. Don't forget to
feel it, love it and live it!
"Too often the distressing symptoms associated
with the menopause are not taken seriously enough. The stresses caused by these
symptoms can have a significant effect on not only a woman's life, but also the
lives of those close to her, over a period of years. A woman can't just
"grin and bear it" - if only it were that simple. These are troubling
symptoms caused by the menopause, which lead to physical and psychological
problems in everyday life. Women need to realise that they don't need to put up
with this. For most women there are ways of overcoming these problems, and a
woman going through a difficult menopause should make sure that she talks this
over with her doctor to find the best solution for her".
International Menopause Society President, Dr Tobie
de Villiers commented.