What is menopause?

Menopause is a natural process in your life, defined as the permanent end of menstrual cycles and you can no longer become pregnant. It usually occurs in women between 45 and 55 years of age, as the ovaries produce less estrogen.

When does Menopause Start?

In India, the age of natural menopause is 46.2 + 4.9 years. Before you reach menopause, you will experience a transitional period, called perimenopause. It usually starts in your mid-to-late 40s & can last for months or years. Most women experienceperimenopause about 4 years before their last period. If you want to predict the age at which you might experience menopause, examining your family history may be the most

How long does Menopause Last?

The menopausal transition is a slow process. During perimenopause, your symptoms may vary in frequency and intensity and may decrease as you approach menopause and postmenopause. Your symptoms may continue for an average of four to five years.

Understanding
The Menopausal Transitions

Menopausal Health Risk

The changes that occur before & during menopause may bother you, but they are a normal part of the menopause transition. Your risks of certain medical conditions may increase after you reach menopause. Menopause is not always the only reason for these health risks. With increasing age, your risk of developing these conditions also increases.

Osteoporosis (Bone loss)
Urinary Problems
Weight Gain
Heart Disease
Depression
Pruritus (Itching)
Wrinkles & Slack Skin
Dry Skin

Osteoporosis (Bone loss)

At postmenopause, a decrease in your estrogen levels puts you at a risk of developing osteoporosis. 1 Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become brittle and weak and they break easily. Estrogen is important for the production of new bones as it supports your bone-producing cells. Without estrogen, these cells cannot produce enough new bones. Your bone-absorbing cells weaken bones. The greatest complication that you may face with osteoporosis is fractures, which occur most often in your hip, wrist, and spine. If you have a fracture at an older age, your body may be less able to recover it. Regular exercises and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D are two simple ways to reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

Urinary Problems

Urinary incontinence is known as the occasional release of urine. Urinary incontinence is common if you are getting old, especially after menopause. A decrease in the level of estrogen causes your vagina and urethra to lose elasticity. Urethra is a tube that connects your bladder to the outside of your body. Thus, you may experience sudden, frequent, and strong urges to urinate. Thisoften occurs when you are laughing or coughing. You may also experience painful urination and have recurrent urinary tract infections. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with kegel exercises may help relieve the symptoms of urinary incontinence. 2 Quitting smoking and losing weight may help you manage your urinary problems. Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor for further treatment options.

Weight Gain

You may experience weight gain as you reach your 40s and 50s. This weight gain is due to the natural process of aging and not only because of menopause. With increasing age, you may find it harder to maintain muscle mass. Lower muscle mass will slow down your metabolism, thus increasing your weight easily. Weight gain, especially around the stomach is common during menopause. The increase in fat around the stomach is harmful, as it increases your risk for heart disease. Therefore, it is important that you cut down on calories, eat a nutritious diet, and exercise regularly to maintain your weight.

Heart Disease

Your risk of a heart disease increases after menopause. If you have reached postmenopause, then the chances of you having a heart attack is more likely than men. Your estrogen levels decrease during menopause. This may lead to irregular heartbeats. If you feel that your heart is beating faster than normal, talk to your doctor. There are ways in which you can reduce your risk of a heart disease. Following healthy lifestyle habits, like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking will help you fight against heart problems. If you have high cholesterol or blood pressure, ask your doctor for ways to reduce it to protect your heart.

Depression

Changes in the level of hormones during menopause may affect your physical and emotional health. You may feel alone at times or be frustrated. Your family and friends may not always understand what you are going through. If you are having trouble managing it, it is possible that you may be experiencing depression. You may lose interest in activities you used to enjoy, feel tired, frustrated, or angry, or may even have trouble concentrating or making decisions. Depression during menopause is treated in a similar way it is treated at any other time in your life. Lifestyle changes, adequate sleep, regular exercise and relaxation techniques may help you get relief from your depression or anxiety. Remember, depression during menopause is a treatable condition and you are not alone. There are many women who are going through this change. Connecting with your family and friends may provide you with the emotional support you need.

Menopause can bring about noticeable changes to your skin as well. Some of them include:

Pruritus (Itching)

Estrogen is related to the production of collagen and natural oils which keep your skin moisturized. Collagen is an important building block of skin. The lack of collagen and natural oils can make your skin thin and itchy. This condition is known as pruritus. Pruritus may occur during perimenopause and may continue soon after menopause. You may experience itchy skin more likely on your face, limbs, neck, chest, and back. If your symptoms persist for three or more days, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may do some tests to rule out any other serious conditions that can cause itching. Though you may be tempted to scratch your itchy areas, try to avoid it as much as possible. A balanced diet is important for a healthy skin. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin soft and moisturized.

Wrinkles & Slack Skin

Your skin loses collagen in menopause. Studies suggest that about 30% of the collagen from a woman's skin is lost during the first five years of menopause. After that, the decrease is slow. For the next 20 years, every year women lose about 2% of their collagen. As your collagen decreases, your skin loses its firmness and begins to slag. Your wrinkles become visible all the time and pouches appear under your eyes. You should protect your skin from the sun to reduce wrinkles and prevent the appearance of new ones. Consider using skin care products that can increase collagen in your skin. You can consult a skin specialist to help reduce your wrinkles.

Dry Skin

As you approach menopause, your estrogen levels decrease, compromising the production of collagen. Thus, your skin becomes less elastic and loses the ability to retain moisture. The hormone changes during menopause are not the only cause of dry skin. Other skin conditions, heat, dry weather, and harsh soaps may also cause your skin to become dry. Avoiding hot showers, using sunscreens and moisturizer regularly may help you manage dry skin. Implementing lifestyle changes, using alternative medicines, having and a healthy diet may help you treat your condition. If you do not see any improvements in your skin you may speak with your skin specialist to create a personalized treatment plan.

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