Menopause signifies the permanent cessation of ovarian function and women’s from a reproductive to a non-reproductive phase of life. It occurs when a woman stops menstruating, most often between age 45 and 55. It marks a critical stage characterized transition by remarkable changes in hormonal and menstruation patterns, as well as both physiological and psychosocial symptoms.
Many women may believe that the beginning of the menopause is when periods stop but, menopause doesn’t officially begin until you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period.
Whole Menopause Transition (MT) process from being premenopausal to post-menopausal can last up to 10 years. The lead-up to “the change” is called perimenopause; the after time is post-menopause. During these years, the levels of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone drop off. Menopause can be induced artificially by removal of the ovaries or through chemotherapy.
Menopause transition is categorised in two main phases- Premenopause and Perimenopause.
Premenopause, when you still have periods whether they’re regular or irregular and have no symptoms of perimenopause or menopause.
On the other hand, in Perimenopause (around menopause) you’ll start to experience symptoms of menopause, which includes...
periods that are heavier or lighter than normal
worse premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before periods
loss of sex drive
urinary tract infections (UTIs)
fertility issues in women who are trying to conceive
Over the course of perimenopause, hormone levels continuously fluctuate, estrogen levels drop and the body stops releasing eggs.
When Estrogen levels drop, it affects the levels of other chemicals in your body too. Dopamine and serotonin, two brain chemicals that are known to play a role in ADHD, are often affected.
On average, perimenopause lasts around 4 years, but it can be as short as a few months or as long as a decade.
Duration of Menopausal Transition,
Perimenopause is divided into two stages: Early-stage perimenopause is when your menstrual cycle starts to become unpredictable. Over the span of a few months, you get your period a week or more later than your usual cycle. Late-stage perimenopause occurs when you start having two months between cycles. This whole process can start 8 to 10 years before menopause.
Transitioning into menopause (MT) can be a more turbulent time for many women, as this includes more severe health risks that a woman must know.
Menopause Transition and Cardiovascular Disease Risk,
According to the 2012 American Heart Association (AHA) survey of female awareness- 'Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women. Women who start the menopause transition at < 45 years of age have higher overall risk of and mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD). Additionally, women who experience early menopause (age 40−45) and women with premature menopause (under age 40) are at higher risk of heart disease. Studies indicate that the presence of vasomotor symptoms and other menopause symptomatology are associated with increased risk of CHD, stroke or CHD.
This medical observation also led to the hypothesis that the menopause transition (MT) contributes to the increase in coronary heart disease risk. Over the past 20 years, longitudinal studies of women traversing menopause have contributed significantly to the relationship between the MT and CVD risk.
Menopause and heart palpitations,
A review published in Women's Health talk about certain factors that are associated with heart palpitations when you switch into menopause.
Heart palpitations may occur with a hot flash and can make you feel anxious; that covers multiple types of heart conditions. These conditions can lead to decreased blood flow, a heart attack or heart failure.
Heart palpitations feel like your heart is racing, pounding, skipping beats, flipping, or fluttering. This happens when you feel your heart rate speeding up, slowing down, or beating irregularly. The sensation can be in your neck, chest, or both.
As well as, the risk of heart disease increases with menopause due to how hormones affect heart function, body fat distribution, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation.
Menopausal changeover can also affect your brain,
Changing hormonal levels may also affect the chemicals and neurotransmitters in your brain, and in turn, your mood. In fact, these hormonal changes often cause ADHD-like symptoms in menopausal people without ADHD. It’s not uncommon for people to experience difficulty focusing, irritability, and low mood during menopause.
Changes in sleeping patterns and quality are common during and after the menopause transition. Around 26 percent Trusted Source of people in menopause report symptoms severe enough to affect daytime activities.
Menopause transition leads depression and emotional swings,
Global medical community accepted that women are at greater risk to suffer from depression than men. Some studies show the risk is twice as great for women vs. men to suffer a major depressive disorder (MDD).
The fluctuation of estradiol (a form of estrogen) and another key hormone, progesterone, in your body can cause feelings of anxiety, emotional sensitivity, psychosocial stress or depression. But frequent, troubling high anxiety or panic attacks are not a normal part of menopause. As estrogen levels deplete, some women may encounter painful headaches or panic disorder and migraines that are worse than usual.
These depressive episodes occurs during the menopausal transition; early postmenopausal period are times of particularly increased vulnerability to depression for women, with rates of MDD and clinical elevations in depressive symptoms doubling or even tripling compared to premenopausal and late postmenopausal rates. Studies show that about 60% of women have symptoms of depression during this time.
Sleeping disorder in menopause transition,
Changes in sleeping patterns and quality are common during and after the menopause transition. Around 26 percent trusted Source of people in menopause report symptoms severe enough to affect daytime activities. Menopause can increase your risk of several sleep problems, including- sleep apnea, poor sleep quality, insomnia and night sweats, all can last for several years before your period completely stops.
Menopause Belly Bloat,
Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary female sex hormones, and these levels fluctuate as you enter into menopause, which may cause some adverse reactions within your body. Too little, or too much progesterone can definitely cause a woman to feel bloated.
Menopause is already a major change within your body, so it's understandable to be frustrated about newly occurring bloat as well. However, staying aware of your gut health can support comfort within the body and promote overall well-being.
Emotional concerns during this phase,
Menopausal based depression or anxiety can causes difficulties in your relationships or at work and there isn’t a clear solution to these problems; you may have suicidal thoughts or feelings, these negative feelings last more than two weeks.
You don’t have anyone in whom you can confide. If you don’t have anyone to share your thoughts with, it’s hard to know if what you’re thinking makes sense. A good therapist will offer invaluable perspective on the issues most important to you.
Hot flashes in menopause,
About 75% of menopausal women will experience hot flashes.
Hot flashes are brief periods when a female suddenly feels warm and develops sweating and flushing usually of the face, neck, and chest. They typically last about one to five minutes and are most common in menopause.
Many people experience hot flashes in addition to other symptoms of menopause. The primary sign of hot flashes is increased skin temperature, particularly around the face, neck, and chest. You may also experience:
Flushing or red tint to the skin, similar to blushing
Feeling very warm
Racing heart or heart palpitations
Other health issues a woman face during perimenopause or in menopause transition are,
Dementia or alzheimer
Fatigue and brain fog
Muscle and joint pain
Bleeding gums and burning mouth
Prescribed treatments during menopause transitional phase,
There are both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments available for perimenopause and menopause.
Estrogen (hormone) therapy works by normalizing estrogen levels so sudden hormonal spikes and drops don’t cause uncomfortable symptoms. Some forms of estrogen may even help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Estrogen is available over the counter or by prescription. Of note, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may not regulate some of the OTC options.
Estrogen is usually combined with progestin and comes in many forms, including:
Shop for over-the-counter estrogen therapy.
Other menopause medications are more targeted. For example:
Prescription vaginal creams can alleviate dryness as well as pain from intercourse.
Antidepressants can help with mood swings.
The seizure medication gabapentin (Neurontin) can be an option for hot flashes.
While there is growing evidence to suggest that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can relieve emotional symptoms linked to menopause or changeover phase, but HRT alone is not effective in treating more severe depression. Antidepressant drug therapy and/or psychotherapy may be necessary.
Home remedies for perimenopause and menopause
There are also methods you can use to alleviate your symptoms at home.
Regular exercise can help improve your mood, weight gain issues, and even (ironically) your hot flashes.
Plan to include some form of physical activity in your daily routine. Just don’t work out before bedtime, as this can increase insomnia.
Getting enough rest can seem impossible if you’re dealing with insomnia.
Try doing a relaxing activity right before bed, such as gentle yoga or a warm bath. Avoid daytime naps, as this can interfere with your ability to sleep at night.
Here are a few other methods you can try to relieve symptoms:
Pay attention to your diet and avoid large meals.
Quit smoking, if you smoke.
Only drink alcohol in moderation.
Limit caffeine to small quantities
Be positive for new phase of life,
For sure, confronting the aging process triggers emotional issues around menopause. Embrace a positive attitude towards your health during this phase, it might help to adjust your outlook too.
Remember that menopause is a natural part of life.
Think about what you’ll gain with menopause. For instance, don’t mourn the loss of childbearing years. Embrace the freedom that lies ahead.
Get the focus off your crow’s feet and body changes and onto what you like about yourself. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you to notice thoughts that make you feel bad, and replace them with positive ones.
Seek support from your doctor or health care system, community, and other women.