What Happens During Menopause?

A woman has a definite number of eggs in ovary, which are released one by one during ovulation till she reaches menopause. Both ovulation and menstruation occur in a cyclic manner under the influence of hormones estrogen and progesterone. Menopause means the cessation of menstruation and actually marks the end of childbearing stage of women. During menopause, a specific set of changes happen in women's body. So what exactly happens?

What Happens During Menopause?

Menopause is an absolutely normal and natural phase in a woman's life. While every woman's body has her own timeline, this complicated process usually occurs in late 40's or early 50's. The changes happen during menopause can be easily divided into three stages.

1. Perimenopause

Women in their late 40's might notice some very prominent changes in their menstrual cycle or symptoms associated with them. While this may begin in late 40's, some women may not experience it at all till they hit 50's. This, however, continues for around 2-8 years before menstrual cycles finally come to a halt.

With a reduction in number and quality of eggs, your ovaries may produce too much or too little estrogen or/and progesterone. These fluctuations may cause symptoms like:

  • Premenstrual syndrome symptoms (PMS)
  • Shortened menstrual cycle or irregular periods
  • Unexpected menstrual bleeding

Note: Heavy bleeding should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible.

2. Menopause

Estrogen levels start dropping down gradually around 6-12 months before the end of menses and as soon as they cross the threshold level (minimum estrogen level required), menstrual cycles stop altogether. If this no-period-phase remains for a year, you are said to reach menopause. What happens during menopause? Well, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Hot flashes, a sudden warm feeling spreading over the entire upper body with or without blushing and sweating
  • Irregular or skipped periods
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Racing heart
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Libido changes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Bladder control issues

3. Post Menopause

A low-estrogen state of body after menopause saves a woman from certain estrogen linked cancers. A further gradual drop of estrogen, which occurs in the coming year, however, places women at the following risks:

  • Bone loss speeds up due to low estrogen level, increasing the risk of osteoporosis;
  • Skin changes are observed due to a reduced collagen, the most important building block of connective tissues and skin. These changes include thinner, dryer and wrinkled skin, and thinner vaginal and urinary tract lining, leading to increased risk of infections and difficult sexual activity;
  • Tooth and gum diseases increase because low estrogen levels influence the connective tissues;
  • Risk of heart diseases also increases after menopause although causes are yet to be found.

How to Get Through Menopause with Ease

Dealing with what happens during menopause may involve changing diet, lifestyle and taking medicines to relieve the symptoms. Good news, however, is that all these symptoms are temporary and will soon get over. Management involves:

1. Cool Hot Flashes

Keep a tab on triggers of flashes and avoid them as much as possible. Every time a hot flash sets in, take deep breaths, inhale through nose and exhale through mouth. Consult your doctor if your hot flash is severe.

2. Rid of Night Sweats

Following hot flashes, an episode of profuse sweating may happen. You can tackle it by wearing light clothes, using light sheets and keeping a pedestal fan by side. You can also keep a frozen pea bag under the pillow and keep turning over the pillow to keep face cool.

3. Take a Good Sleep

Best way to fight insomnia due to menopause is to exercise before going to bed. You get relief from meditation via yoga, Tai Chi, replacing alcohol with a warm glass of milk, reading, and asking for short-term sleep aids from your doctor.

4. Lubricate Your Vagina

All that vaginal dryness and itchiness can be taken care of in a jiffy with a wide variety of products available in market. It not only eases dryness, but also makes intercourse smooth, improving vaginal circulation and health. You can try water-based vaginal lubricants or moisturizers, or prescription vaginal creams, rings and pills.

5. Boost Sex Drive

Besides hormonal changes, bladder issues, poor sleep and fatigue all contribute to a boring sex life. Sex drive can be boosted by an increased foreplay, trying new positions and having some erotica and massage before the actual activity.

6. Fight Mood Swings

What happens during menopause? Mood swing will definitely visit you. People with severe PMS symptoms in their life may have a tough time during menopause because of the mood swings. One day you may feel down in the dumps and the other day the happiest one on the planet. To deal with them, you can take anti-depressants, low-dose birth control pill, meditation and other alternative treatments.

7. Eradicate Headaches

Headaches can give you a tough time, especially worsening attacks of migraines. Get rid of them by keeping a tab on what triggers them and avoiding those things, eating small meals, getting good and enough sleep, and seeking proper treatments to reduce their severity and frequency.

8. Assuage Hair Loss

Be it due to menopause or any other reason, hair loss can have you freaking out. In menopause this may be accompanied by hair showing up on chin or cheeks. In order to manage this, you can avoid scorching sun heat, use less harsh hair products, and wax, pluck or bleach unwanted facial hair.

9. Remove Acne

Acne, the worst nightmare, may appear all over just like when puberty hit. Try skin-friendly products that are not oily, non-comedogenic and don't clog pores. Take care of your skin by cleansing and moisturizing it properly and applying sun block whenever going out.

10. Get Better Memory

You may have a hard time recalling things, concentrating and focusing. Tackle this by developing a new hobby, lowering your stress level and challenging brain in different and new ways, like learning a new language.

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