Symptoms of Menopause and Their Management

Just as puberty is a transition phase between your childhood and adulthood, menopause is the transition from active reproductive phase of life towards reproductive retirement.

Medically, it is defined as cessation (or stoppage) of menstrual cycles. Doctors declare a lady as menopausal if she has had no menses since 12 months in continuation.

The common age range when it occurs is from 45 to 50. However, many women enter this stage between 50 to 55 years of age, 51 being the commonest figure.

This is a natural process. The female body now retires and enters a restful phase. Biologically, the condition is characterized by decrease in feminine hormones and hence shrinkage of all reproductive organs of a female body.

Symptoms

The transition phase is characterized by a period where you skip menses. The skip periods become longer to eventually stop altogether. There are vast fluctuations in hormonal levels due to which the women may phase both physical and emotional problems.

Hot Flushes

Experienced by majority of women. This means that you feel a gush of blood over your face, peripheries or the whole of the body. A hot feeling is perceived, which may follow by sweating. Sweating at night times is equally common.

This is increased if your take stimulating food stuff as caffeineted drinks, spicy food etc.

Sleep Disorder and Restlessness

Emotional disturbances and mood swings Since the hormonal levels fluctuate widely in this phase, the female becomes more moody. She may feel depressed for some time, followed by anxiety later on.

Loss of Libido

This means a decline in sexual desire.

Vaginal Dryness

As the vaginal canal atrophies or shrinks, the glands that keep it lubricated also become less active. This renders the canal dry.

Pain in Legs, Joints or Other Parts of the Body

This may be due to osteoporosis, which is a declined in the bone density of a person. This may also be blamed to the decline in sexual hormone levels, which had been giving her a protection. Women become prone to fractures, especially of hip, wrist or legs.

General Weakness

Weight gain, especially accumulation of fat on dependent parts of the body.

Headaches

Headaches may become more common. Migraine patients may notice an increase in the intensity and frequency of attacks. This feature stays throughout the transition phase of attaining menopause. Once menopause sets in, the symptoms improve.

Hair Loss and Dry or Itchy skin

There may be hair loss as well as reduction in elasticity and smoothness of skin. The skin may become dry to prone to itching.

Urinary Incontinence

Women become prone to stress incontinence. The sphincteric control becomes poor.

Treatment

  • The first step is educating the women about the phase. She needs to know about the changes she is going to face and that these are absolutely natural.
  • Low dose estrogen tablets (Estrin/ Climen) are started. These give relief in hot flushes and also reduce the rate at which osteoporosis sets in. If the uterus is still intact (that is, no hysterectomy done), progesterone in low dose is coupled to the estrogen pill.
  • This also gives her a protection against heart problems.
  • A vaginal emollient (Divigel/ Evalon) containing estrogen may be given to combat vaginal dryness. This may also relieve urinary symptoms.
  • Low dose anti depressants (preferably, SSRIs) are given to those who are prone to depressions or are facing extreme emotional upsets.
  • Calcium supplements with vitamin D combination are preferred to control osteoporosis.
  • Diet control is advised. There is a need to cut down on calories and increase fibers in your diet. This is required because your BMR suddenly drops down and so does the caloric requirements of the body.
  • Light stretching exercises are advised on a regular basis. This would keep you active, give protection against depressive states and mobilize body calcium to reach the bones.
  • Vaginal canal may be kept lubricated by using certain lubricants as, KY gel. Glycerin based products may be avoided, as they cause irritation over the mucosal surface.
  • Adopting some relaxation methods, like yoga, breathing exercises or mediation is helpful in managing this phase.
  • Quit smoking to protect your heart. As estrogen levels decline in your body, the heart becomes prone to disorders.  Smoking may further damage and precipitate problems.
  • Staying connected to  social groups sharing similar problems helps.