The Basics of Menopause: What You Need to KnowDr. Marion Gluck - Women's Health Specialist
The term ‘menopause’ is used to describe the whole of a long-lasting process that pertains to the end of a woman’s fertility. This event will be experienced by all women at some stage in their lives, so it is important to remember that this is a completely natural transition in every woman’s life.
Whilst this is a perfectly normal change and most healthy bodies adjust to it accordingly, today’s modern world adds stresses like environmental toxins, bad nutrition, work stress and lifestyle changes, which means that the body can find it harder to rebalance itself.
Menopausal symptoms can begin occurring as early as 35 (although this is not so common). Interestingly, the timing of this phase is closely comparable to the time when a woman’s mother went through the same transition. However, the length of time and severity of menopause-related symptoms for any individual woman cannot be predicted and every menopause is unique.
Common symptoms during this phase can include:
- Mood swings
- Anger and irritability
- Memory loss
- Hot flushes
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Breast tenderness
- Aches and painful joints
- Frequent headaches
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
Pre-menopause can last for 10 years or more, ending one year after the last menstrual cycle which is the official date of menopause.
The term ‘post-menopausal’ describes women who have not experienced any menstrual flow for a minimum of a year and whose ovaries have become inactive.
A woman’s reproductive hormone levels continue to drop and fluctuate for some time into post-menopause, accompanied by symptoms that may take several years to disappear.
Symptoms are similar to those leading up to menopause:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- Changes in mood, such as feeling tired, irritable, depressed or anxious
- Difficulty concentrating or poor memory
- Changes to the vagina, such as dryness, discomfort, itching and pain during sex
- Loss of interest in sex (loss of libido)
- Urinary problems – such as recurrent urinary tract infections, loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence)
- Joint aches and pains.
Throughout each phase of menopause, hormone levels can fluctuate. Vital hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone remain important for bones, vaginal and urethral tissues, skin, brain function and cardiovascular health. It’s important to balance and replenish these hormones in order to maintain women’s health, energy, mood and brain function.
As every woman is unique, so are her hormones. Every woman has her ‘own’ menopause and thus every hormone solution is specifically designed for her.