Menopause

menopauseMenopause signifies the permanent end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Menopause is considered the absence of a period for at least a year, and new thoughts are it maybe the cessation of periods for 2 years. Having said this the symptoms of menopause commonly start well before a woman goes into menopause. This time period signifies the end of reproductive ovarian functioning and a transition through various hormonal changes.

Menopause is split into 3 stages:

  • Perimenopause (before menopause)
  • Menopause
  • Postmenopause (after menopause)

Menopause does not last, and your body adjusts to the new changes with time. How long this will take depends on each individual woman, her own body and overall health.
Menopause takes place between the ages of 45–55, with the average age being 51 years old or “surgical menopause” occurs when both ovaries have been removed or when chemotherapy affects ovarian function.

Menopause symptoms usually first appear around the age of 35, when your ovaries get smaller and there is a reduction in the production of progesterone and to a lesser extent oestrogen. At this stage fertility starts to decline as there is a change to the entire reproductive system, internal organs, genitalia, breast tissue, and hormones.

Menopause is a natural part of the ageing process and is experienced by all women.

Common Menopause Symptoms

Symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman and can be very unpredictable. Hormones fluctuate up and down, which may explain why women’s periods might still come and go during menopause.

Some of the most common menopause symptoms include:

  • Irregular periods: common during perimenopause, when can be missed or more frequent, sometimes heavier and sometimes lighter.
  • Hot flushes and night sweats: John Hopkin’s University reports that 75 percent of all menopausal women experience hot flushes Around 15 percent of menopausal women report having “severe hot flashes” caused by hormonal changes that affect hypothalamus, which controls body temperature.
  • Mood changes: Including increased irritability, lack of confidence, anxiety and/or depressive symptoms.
  • Vaginal dryness: The vagina shortens and becomes less elastic (vaginal atrophy) and this thinning and drying can increase susceptibility to urinary tract infections.
  • Increased abdominal fat and weight gain: Due to a slowed metabolism.
  • Insomnia and changes in sleep quality
  • Thinning hair and dry skin
  • Changes in urination: Due to changes in vaginal tissue some women experience frequent, sudden, strong urges to urinate, or might have trouble controlling
  • Breasts becoming smaller: As the breasts are no longer stimulated by oestrogen they decrease in size, become less dense, have more fatty tissue and lose some of their volume (becoming “droopier”).
  • Decreased sex drive: Blood flow is reduced to the genital area, the labia becomes smaller and the muscle tissue of the clitoris starts to shrink.
  • Low thyroid function due to change in metabolism
  • Headaches, migraines, poor memory, and foggy thinking
  • Higher risk for other diseases and complications: Studies show that following menopause a woman’s risk for heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) diseases, as well as osteoporosis, increases
  • Muscle, bone and joint aches from fluctuating and dropping hormone

As women progress further into menopause and symptoms like vaginal atrophy (skin becoming thinner and drier in the vagina) occur from a lack of oestrogen. Women can remain oestrogen dominant from the unhealthy oestrogens in our environment while being deficient in the healthy intrinsic.

Given the lowering of libido, decreased energy and muscle strength experienced by some women at menopause this group may also benefit from Testosterone and / or DHEA supplementation.

As indicated above the treatment of menopause is an individual balancing of hormones in response to the symptoms and laboratory results. While this may appear complicated Patient Advocates have extensive experience in helping ladies achieve hormonal balance and return to health and vitality.

Click Here to read client's stories on Premenopause and Menopause 

REFERENCES:

Axe, Josh October 14, 2015. https://draxe.com/progesterone-cream accessed 16/04/2019 Lee John (1999) What your Doctor may not tell you about Menopause/Peri-menopause Northrup Christiane. (2006) Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. New York, NY. Bantam Books
Martin, Raquel. Gerstrung, Judi (1998) The oestrogen alternative: natural hormone therapy with botanical progesterone.
Rochester, VT. Healing Arts Press
Patterson, Kimberley (1999). Progesterone, the natural hormone.