Menopause and women’s health is a topic that should be given attention in our present society. The menopause stage is a period in a woman’s life when menstruation becomes less frequent before it stops and ovulation stops occurring.
Menopause is a normal aging process for women. This period in a woman’s life encompasses various thoughts. Some women feel happy about it, while some don’t. Women find it hard to embrace menopause for multiple reasons like the inability to give birth, lifestyle changes and generally affecting women’s health.
Research has shown that many old Nigerian women do not realize the changes associated with menopause; they do not know how to manage menopause. This article will enlighten women on menopause and women’s health.
There is no exact age when menopause begins but most times begins between ages 45 and 55. There are rare cases of menopause coming as early as age 20 or before 48 years old( premature menopause). According to statistics from a questionnaire survey of Nigerian women, the average age is 48.4. There is no exact way to know your menopause age until it occurs, but you can get an idea of it through your mother’s or family member’s experience. Some medical factors influence menopause timing. Menopause timing can be hastened due to factors like; the removal of ovaries, some autoimmune diseases, etc.
Menopause In Women
Menopause can be detrimental to women’s health. Most times, menopause is not easily detectable because the symptoms can be similar to other health issues. However, there are tests conducted to confirm menopause in women. First, the estrogen level is checked to ensure menopause. Estradiol, a subsidiary of estrogen, is found in premenopausal women. A decrease in estradiol level indicates menopause at an average level of 30 – 400 picograms per milliliter. The estradiol level falls below 30pg/ml after menopause. For further confirmation of menopause, the follicle-stimulating hormone( FSH) levels are measured. A consistent elevation of a woman’s FSH blood level to 30mu/ml or higher, alongside missed menstrual period, generally denotes that she has reached menopause.
The 3 Stages Of Menopause
These menopausal stages entail the various changes that occur before and after menopause. A woman’s health gets vulnerable to some diseases after menopause. Here is a closer look at some occurrences during each stage
- Premenopause/ Perimenopause: As the word implies, premenopause means before menopause. Premenopause is when a woman starts experiencing some symptoms leading up to the menopause period. A woman at this stage begins experiencing symptoms such as a change in the menstrual period within 4 – 8 years before menopause. Perimenopause age varies from woman to woman. Some experience theirs as early as their 30s but others in their 40s.
- Menopause: This is a stage when a woman can not become pregnant because, at this point, her menstrual period must have stopped. Menopause lasts for one year, after which you enter post-menopause. There is no specific age for menopause until it happens.
- Postmenopause: This is the stage after menopause, and you will be in this stage throughout the rest of your life. Ovulation stops at this stage, so you can’t become pregnant, ending your reproductive years. Women’s health in post-menopause is at risk of conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.
Symptoms Of Menopause: Signs women should look for when in menopause
- Change in the menstrual period: This is primarily the first symptom noticed in women. Your period may seize from time to time, could be shorter or last longer than usual, or may experience less or excess bleeding. See your doctor when you have;
- Heavy bleeding
- Your period commences after a year of no bleeding.
- Your period lasting for more than a week
- Sleep: Menopause affects one’s sleep. Some women have difficulties sleeping at night due to the menopausal period. Sleep is essential for one’s health. Inadequate sleep can affect a woman’s health during menopause.
- Hot flushes: Hot flush is a sudden sensation of feeling the heat over the body resulting in heavy sweating and sometimes cold shivering. Many Nigerian women experience this without realizing that menopause could be the reason for it. Hot flushes can last for many years, even after menopause.
- Sex life: Your feeling about sex tends to change. You could lose interest in having sex or become so excited about it since you no longer worry about pregnancy. Also, sexual intercourse can become uncomfortable due to the vaginal becoming drier after menopause.
- Mood change: One can suddenly have mood swings and be stressed during menopause. Depression could set in if proper care isn’t taken to treat your mood shift.
Other symptoms include;
- You might develop memory problems
- Weight gain
- Aches in the joints and muscles
- Heart palpitations
Symptoms in different women are unpredictable; menopause might have severe symptoms which affect a woman’s health. Menopause and women’s health should become a concern because these symptoms can become a problem, which can be cautioned at first experience. So, if your symptoms are severe, meet with a doctor for medical advice.
Women should stop self-treatment. Talk to your doctor when you feel unusual or experience things that can affect your health. For example, a lady missing three or more periods without being pregnant might not be experiencing hormonal imbalance but premature menopause.
As a lady, you should pay attention to every change in your body. This is what the concept of menopause and women’s health is about. From a 2019 research, around 3.7 percent of women experience primary ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause. So a lady in her 20s going through menopause is going through early menopause. This is a better reason why women women should be more informed about menopause and women’s health.
Causes Of Premature Menopause
As earlier stated, menopause and women’s health aren’t discussed often. This is why many people do not know about the causes of premature menopause. The causes of early menopause will give women insight into understanding the concept of menopause.
Some of the causes are:
- Family gene: Premature menopause might run in the family. You can talk to your biological relatives about it and know about the symptoms they experience and the age they stopped menstruating.
- Exposure to estrogen-disrupting chemicals: This gives a high risk of early menopause. Some substances found in certain pesticides and phthalates affect estrogen.
- Oophorectomy: Removal of the ovaries because of cancer or other conditions sometimes causes premature menopause.
- Smoking: Research shows that the more you smoke, the higher the risk of having early menopause. In essence, one’s lifestyle generally affects health.
Symptoms Of Premature Menopause
The symptoms are not different from those you would experience if you begin menopause later. The menopause symptoms vary from person to person. This shows that menopause and women’s health are intertwined. Symptoms include;
- Hot flush
- Lower sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
- Memory problem
- Sleeping problem
How Premature Menopause Affects Women’s Health
Premature menopause makes it difficult for people to become pregnant naturally. Menopause and women’s health becomes an issue that needs to be discussed. In addition, early menopause affects women’s health by:
- Exposing them to dry eye disease
- Lower self-esteem
- Heart diseases and so on.
Premature Menopause Treatment
There is no particular way to reverse premature menopause, but different treatment options are to select from.
- Therapy: This is just for you to be able to relieve yourself. It is healthy to communicate with your doctor during a period like menopause so you don’t develop depression or any health issues.
- Hormonal therapy: This treatment balances the body’s hormone levels by giving supplementary estrogen.
Hormonal therapy comes in skin patches and topical creams. It can help reduce some menopause symptoms. However, this treatment option may increase the risk of acquiring certain infections and health conditions. People with health issues like heart disease, and gallbladder disease, should not use hormone therapy.
The benefits and risks should be discussed with a doctor before proceeding.
- Regular screening: This ensures healthy bones, heart, and thyroid since menopause is inevitable. You must make sure it doesn’t affect your health regardless. It is inevitable.
You should note that selecting the best treatment for you is essential because what works for another woman might not be as effective for you.
However, many women live life long and do not experience any symptoms. This doesn’t mean they are lucky; it could be because of their genetic history. This shows that symptoms and effects vary from woman to woman. I hope you have learned a lot about menopause and its effect on women’s health.