What is Menopause?
Menopause is the time frame that follows after the cessation of menses. Menopause is a normal and routine physiology in all women though its time may vary for each woman. Though the average age at menopause is 51.5 yrs, a number of factors such as genetic, environmental and surgical influences, radiation, chemotherapy etc. could influence this age.
Does a woman have irregular cycles before menopause?
Yes. Most women experience irregular cycles in which the duration of flow is decreased prior to menopause. This phase is perimenopausal period and usually lasts anywhere between 4 to 7 yrs. However bleeding between menstrual periods or bleeding after sex, should not be considered as menopausal changes and requires immediate medical attention.
What are the symptoms associated with menopausal transition and menopause?
- Menstrual pattern changes
- Night sweats, hot flushes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances,
- Decrease in sexual desire
- Pain and discomfort associated with sexual intercourse
- Headache, palpitations, dizziness, back pain and joint aches.
- Urinary disturbances
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
What are the complications of menopause?
Menopause can increase your risk of certain problems due to lack of estrogen hormone support after menopause.
Heart and blood vessel disease: It is believed that one of the main reasons that ischemic heart disease is less prevalent among young women than young men is due to the effect of estrogen that proves to be protective for the heart and blood vessels. This protective effect is lost with menopause thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Hence maintenance of a good diet and exercise routine is very important after menopause.
Osteoporosis: Research shows that 1 out of every 3 women above 50 years is affected by postmenopausal osteoporosis. Lack of estrogen support make bones weak and put post menopausal women at a high risk of sustaining fractures of the hips, wrist and spine.
Urinary incontinence: Lack of estrogen support makes the pelvic floor muscles lose their tone. This leads to an inability to control the urge to urinate and pass urine without control. For more information, please refer to our section on stress urinary incontinence. The likelihood to develop urinary tract infections is also high.