Menopause is an inevitable stage in every woman’s life. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51 years old; however, this age varies and can occur between 40 and 60 years old. It is diagnosed by loss of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. An estimated 6,000 women daily and more than 2 million women yearly reach menopause in the US. With an average life expectancy of 81, women are spending greater than one-third of their lives in menopause.
What Is Menopause and Why Does This Happen?
Menopause is defined as the point in time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to the natural depletion of ovarian oocytes from aging. The diagnosis is typically made retrospectively after the woman has missed menses for 12 consecutive months. It marks the permanent end of fertility and the average age of menopause is 51 years. Natural menopause happens when the ovaries permanently stop releasing an egg every month. At birth, the ovaries contain about 1 to 2 million eggs contained in follicles. A significant proportion of these eggs undergo death through a process called atresia, leaving only 400,000 eggs at the time menstruation begins. With each menstrual cycle, roughly 1,000 follicles are recruited, but only one of these matures to become the dominant egg that gets released into the fallopian tubes in preparation for a potential pregnancy through a process called ovulation. Follicles produce estrogen. A woman ovulates about 400 eggs in a lifetime. Once the ovaries run out of follicles, the estrogen levels drop and natural menopause occurs. This natural drop in estrogen, particularly a form of estrogen called estradiol, usually is gradual and leads to the symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause. After menopause occurs, the body continues to produce a weaker form of estrogen called estriol that helps mitigate the symptoms.
What are the Symptoms for Menopause?
The levels of all of these hormones vary among individuals, affecting the presence and severity of menopause symptoms a woman may experience. Since, menopause is due to the depletion of ovarian follicles/oocytes and severely reduced functioning of the ovaries, it is associated with lower levels of reproductive hormones, especially estrogen. Low estrogen can result in symptoms below and any abnormal vaginal bleeding should be reported immediately to your doctor, since this may represent a precancerous or cancerous condition of the uterus or endometrial lining.
vasomotor instability (such as hot flushes and night sweats)
genital tract atrophy (such as vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and urinary incontinence)
psychological changes (such as mood swings, depression, and difficulty concentrating)
skin changes (such as thinning and decreased elasticity)
Lower androgen levels (male hormones) can contribute to the loss of sex drive.
What are the Treatments When Experiencing Symptoms for Menopause?
Treatments are available for these symptoms, but they are not for everyone and must be discussed individually with a provider in menopause health. These prescription medications are used to treat certain symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation These treatment options include:
Why Exercise Is Also Important In Menopause?
Menopause is a natural stage, and there are certain natural remedies that can be used to manage the symptoms that cause discomfort. Frequent workouts can reduce menopausal symptoms, they can ease the transition by helping to relieve stress and enhance your overall quality of life. Regular exercise is also an excellent way to stave off weight gain and loss of muscle mass, which are two frequent symptoms of menopause. The good news is you can adopt lifestyle changes to help cope with the changes occurring in your body.
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