Menopause is a natural change marking the cessation of a woman's reproductive ability and considered a normal part of aging when it happens after the age of 40. A woman is menopausal when she has no menstrual periods for 12 months.The process of menopause does not occur overnight, but is a gradual change which could last between 2 to 5 years. This transition period is a different experience for each woman. Menopause can sometimes occur early in certain situations like surgical removal of the ovaries, cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy and premature ovarian failure.
Symptoms of menopause include abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary symptoms, and mood changes. Most of these troublesome symptoms are treatable, or at least temporary.Other physical changes like weight gain, changes in skin texture(wrinkles), worsening of acne are also common. These are due to the hormonal changes that happen during this time.
Although you cannot prevent menopause, you can take action to reduce your riskof complications, such as osteoporosis and heart disease :
- Exercise can reduce hot flashes and improve mood, and weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, helps keep bones strong.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to avoid weight gain and keep cholesterol levels in check. Your daily diet must include calcium, fiber, water, good fats, soy, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Ask your doctor whether you should take calcium and vitamin Dsupplements to protect against bone loss.
- Talk to your doctor about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). For some women the benefits of HRT may outweigh the increased risk of breast cancer and stroke.
Some symptoms of menopause are urgent and may require medical attention.
It is important to recognize serious menopause symptoms like heavy bleeding, depression and hypertension and see a doctor to be investigated and treated appropriately.