The menopause is the period around the last ovulation and menstruation of a woman and marks the end of her fertile period. The hormones in the body of the woman must find a new balance during that period. Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life. It’s not a disease, although it can cause (a lot of) trouble.
A woman is born with a finite number of eggs, which are collected in the ovaries. Those ovaries also produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which regulate the menstruation and ovulation. The menopause occurs when the ovaries no longer produce those hormones, ovulation no longer takes place every month and therefore menstruation fails. In most women, this happens around their fiftieth birthday. In the months or years before, menstruation already starts to be irregular. Only when a woman has had no menstruation for twelve months, we definitively speak of menopause. If menopause takes place after the age of forty years, it’s a natural menopause. It is simply part of the aging process. But in some women, the menopause starts earlier, for example as a consequence of chemotherapy. In that case, it’s a premature menopause.
The symptoms that are characteristic for menopause are quite diverse. The most common signs and symptoms are:
- An irregular cycle.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Mood swings.
- Hot flashes.
- Night sweats.
- Dry vagina.
- Loss of libido.
- Weight gain.
- Severe fatigue.
In order to be able to determine with certainty that the symptoms actually have to do with menopause, a blood test can be carried out to analyze the hormone values.
In case of serious medical problems, due to menopause, the doctor can prescribe medication. These are usually hormones. Because the ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen, there will be less of this hormone in the body. This principally causes the symptoms. By taking hormones, the shortage is supplemented again. So symptoms quickly disappear.
The period after menopause is called post menopause. In the first years after menopause, the body will adapt to the changed situation, until it finds a new balance.
- Menopausal symptoms are not serious, but they can be very nasty. Try to see the hot flashes and sweating as something natural that goes with it. When sweating a lot at night, wear cotton sleepwear. Cotton absorbs moisture well.
- Try to enjoy other things and stay busy (for example with work or hobbies). That helps to get through the menopause.
- Women may also experience pain during sex in menopause. A lubricant may sometimes help.
- You can give the body more energy by following the general guidelines for a healthy diet. This reinforces the body, condition and immune system. Besides, it’s known that especially alcohol, white sugar, hot spices, carbonated beverages and caffeine may worsen the symptoms. Eating more vegetable foods can actually reduce menopausal symptoms.
- There are also natural remedies that can help with menopausal symptoms. This may be dietary supplements or medicines made from particular plants. In countries where the food contains a lot of soy, menopausal symptoms are less likely to occur. Soy, but also, for example, red clover include phytoestrogens. These are nutrients that have a hormone-like effect. They are a kind of vegetable hormones.
- Sufficient exercise can also help. Every day 20 minutes of exercising gives more energy. In addition, yoga also seems to help many women with menopausal symptoms.