Ever wondered what is menopause and what happens when you go through it? Menopause is the end of a woman's menstrual cycle - for good! It's when a woman doesn’t get her period for 12 months, thus marking the end of the reproductive years.
Before we dive into what to expect from your body during menopause, let's understand why our period really ends after a certain ‘period’ of time and when does menopause start.
- What causes menopause
- Common menopause symptoms
- Early menopause signs
- Noticeable physical changes
- Lifestyle changes to make during menopause
- FAQs on a guide to menopause
What causes menopause
Did you know us women are born with all our eggs and they are stored in the ovaries? Wow, we are such superheroes!
Gabriela Pichardo, MD explains that every month, our uterus gets ready for semen to enter its sacred chamber and when it doesn't, it bleeds out. So basically, the ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone and also control our menstrual cycle by releasing some of these eggs (ovulation) every month.
When the ovaries can no longer release eggs, that's when menstruation stops.
For most women, menopause can happen any time after they turn 40. But some women can go through it early due to numerous factors -- surgery such as hysterectomy, hereditary factors or damage to ovaries from chemotherapy.
This is called premature menopause and there is nothing to feel ashamed about it. You have been bleeding every month for a few days for so many years, and you deserve an early break.
Note: Everyone goes through menopause and it can be quite emotional for some women. So, be kind.
Common menopause symptoms
Unlike periods, menopause symptoms are quite different. However, many women will start experiencing common symptoms such as excessive sweating, suddenly feeling hot in the upper section of the body, hot flashes, etc. They are called vasomotor symptoms (VMS) and are different in terms of intensity for every woman.
- Irregular/missed periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Sore nipples or breasts hurting a little
- Emotional changes and mood swings
- Peeing frequently
- Reduced sex drive
- Trouble sleeping
- Dryness throughout the body - eyes, skin and even mouth
Now, let's talk about some early signs of menopause.
Early menopause signs
These early signs of menopause or perimenopause can prepare you for what's to come and give you a hint as to when does menopause start for you.
- Vaginal dryness
- VMS which includes night sweating
- Sudden weight gain
- Hair loss
- Headache and body pain
Medical News Today discusses some of these signs in detail.
One of the first signs that you may be approaching menopause is experiencing shorter periods or a reduced blood flow. In addition, you may get incomplete/irregular periods during one cycle and totally normal the next month. It is yet another sign of menopause.
Unless these menopause symptoms are early, there's nothing to be worried about.
You may notice your vagina feeling dryer than usual with constant itching and discomfort down there. It is yet another sign of perimenopause.
Remember, the area down there is more sensitive than usual and can cause chafing during sex which is why you may start needing a lubricant. It is also advisable to use the VWash Plus Expert Intimate Hygiene Liquid Wash as it combats vaginal dryness and also maintains the natural pH of the vagina. It isn’t harsh unlike soaps and also maintains your genital area’s pH balance which is needed to keep infections at bay. In fact, 96% of females agree that it leaves the intimate area moist and comfortable.
Hot flashes are common when experiencing menopause. It's when a woman's upper body suddenly feels super hot, causing her to sweat, sometimes even during the night. The hot sensation can be felt in the breasts, face and neck.
Some people may also experience sudden chills, night sweats, and hot flashes during the day.
A woman may also have trouble sleeping during menopause. It can be due to stress, night sweats and even the urge to urinate frequently.
The best way to tackle this problem is to develop a new hobby or a distraction. For example, try exercising daily, take long walks before bed, and avoid heavy meals before sleeping.
Feeling restless, depressed or low are common during menopause. Unfortunately, it can also increase the irritability factor and result in more frequent emotional breakdowns (seriously, go hug your mom right now!).
Mostly, hormonal changes and a disturbed sleeping pattern act as the contributing factor to these problems. However, it can also be due to a woman suddenly feeling 'old' or just coming to terms with the new body changes. If you feel like your mood is getting worse daily, you should consult an expert.
Increased risk of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis occurs when your bone density decreases due to a lack of calcium in your body. It can increase the chances of you breaking bones.
Noticeable physical changes
During menopause, a woman may notice these changes in her body:
- Sudden overall weight gain
- Weight gain in the lower abdomen
- Changes in her hair, their colour & density
- Breast soreness
These changes don't happen to everyone as some may experience more changes than others, such as hair thinning and constant urge to pee, while some may barely feel any difference. And if you belong to the latter half, how does it feel to be god's favourite?
Now that we know what to expect during and after menopause, here are some lifestyle changes you must make to make it an easy transition for you.
Lifestyle changes to make during menopause
Menopause symptoms can interfere with your daily activities. Here are a few doctor-approved lifestyle changes to relieve them and improve your quality of life, especially during this time.
As we grow older, our body's metabolism changes, making it difficult to maintain and lose weight. Include more greens in your diet and consider switching to a low fat, low sugar diet to lead a happy, healthy life.
Have a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice and do not forget to take your daily dose of vitamins.
Walking daily or practicing yoga is highly recommended as well.
Did you know that a reason for your early menopause can be the fact that you smoke quite regularly? Unfortunately, it also leads to hot flashes and long-lasting uneasiness.
We can understand how difficult it can be to quit smoking. Try nicotine patches in the beginning, and make sure you consult an expert who can guide you properly.
Limit alcohol intake
Another habit that proves to be a problem during menopause is having a drink daily. It can make you more susceptible to cancer or heart problems.
Take vitamins and calcium supplements
As we grow older, it is recommended to take extra vitamin and calcium supplements to make up for the less production of some vitamins and make the bones stronger.
You can also increase their intake by including foods in your diet such as spinach, beans, milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc.
Just make sure you consult a doctor and do not self-prescribe supplements.
Keep an intimate wash handy
Vaginal dryness is a hallmark sign that menopause is right around the corner. It happens when the vaginal tissues become thinner, resulting in an all-natural decline in your body's estrogen levels during menopause.
A great way to treat vaginal dryness is to use an intimate wash that is specially formulated to tackle dryness. As mentioned before, the VWash Plus Expert Intimate Hygiene Liquid Wash to wash the skin of your genitals once a day and trust us, you won't be disappointed.
FAQs on a guide to menopause
Q. What are the three stages of menopause?
Perimenopause or premenopause is the first stage when your cycle becomes irregular. Next, menopause goes on for 12 months which is the time it takes for your body to stop producing hormones. The third stage is postmenopause which then goes on for the rest of your life.
Q. What is the normal age for menopause?
There is no one normal age, it differs according to your body type, environment, stress and genetics. Some may get it when they are 40 or when they are 60. But the average woman gets it at the age of 51.
Q. Do you gain weight during menopause?
Yes. Your metabolism rate slows down while you start losing muscle mass. But you can maintain your current weight by exercising and taking care of your diet.
Now that you know what is menopause, don’t worry as it is a completely natural phase of womanhood. Arm yourself with these tips and tricks to deal with it and enjoy the second half of your life!