Menopause is one of the major changes that happen in a woman’s life.
It begins when ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone
causing certain processes in the body to go haywire.
Doctors define menopause as the time period from 12 months since the woman’s last period. It is a biological process, not a
medical illness, which involves a process of change - physically,
emotionally, psychosocially, sexually, and even spiritually.
Every woman experience menopause differently. Though menopause
mostly occurs between the ages of 50 and 51, it can start anywhere
from their 30’s and to some, not until their 60’s.
The hormonal changes that occur at menopause and the years preceding
it can cause a variety of symptoms. Symptoms vary among women, and
Irregular menstruation. Women experience irregular periods due to
the changing hormone levels. This may be first clue that menopause
is close at hand. Periods may stop suddenly, or gradually get
lighter or heavier and then stop.
Hot flashes. About 85% of women experience hot flashes. A hot flash
is a warm or flushed sensation that moves upward from the chest to
the shoulders, neck and head. Skin temperatures rapidly rise and may
cause facial redness and sweating. Hot flashes usually last from 30
seconds to several minutes or longer.
Decreased fertility. Many women experience irregular periods due to
the changing hormone levels and the decreased frequency of ovulation
(egg release). When ovulation begins to fluctuate, women are less
likely to become pregnant.
Vaginal changes. The tissues lining the vagina, vulva and urethra
become drier, thinner and less elastic. With decreased lubrication,
women may experience burning, itching and discomfort during sexual
intercourse. There is also an increased risk of infections to the
urinary tract or vagina.
Emotional/psychological changes. Women going through menopause may
experience mood swings, irritability and emotional upsets. Aside
from hormonal fluctuations, other factors may also contribute to
these changes, including stress, insomnia, and other life changes.
Physical appearance. Because of hormonal changes, women may notice a
loss of fullness in the breasts, thinning hair and wrinkled and dry
Night sweats and sleep disturbance. Night sweats are often the
result of hot flashes. One may suddenly wake up at the middle of the
night with soaking sweat to be followed by chills. As a result,
sleep deprivation along with its apparent effects is very likely.
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