What is Menopause?
Menopause is not a disease. It’s a natural life transition that women go through. It doesn’t have to be…or need to be a bad experience. We will discuss some important aspects of menopause, the symptoms, what you need to be aware of, and of course, help (natural) for symptoms (if you have them).
During menopause your ovaries produce a diminished amount of estrogen. This is when your adrenal glands have to take over the job. If you have healthy adrenal glands, you may have fewer symptoms or perhaps none at all. If your adrenal glands are already tired, this is when you could have those pesky symptoms that menopause and perimenopause can bring like hot flashes, insomnia, decreased energy, headaches, etc.
Your adrenal glands will begin to respond to the decreased production of estrogen from the ovaries by creating the hormones pregnenolone and DHEA. These hormones are then converted into estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
When does Menopause occur?
Menopause is defined as not having a menstrual period for one full year. It occurs at the average age of approximately 51. The actual age will vary woman to woman as everyone is unique.
Perimenopause is the years leading up to menopause. This stage in life generally happens between the ages of 45-65 but can begin earlier or later.
During perimenopause is actually when you may begin to experience the symptoms that you hear referred to as menopause symptoms.
The best defense you can have during this change of life is to be fully informed about what you can expect during the upcoming years. Be prepared so you can make better choices for yourself and your treatment, if any is needed.
It is possible to have an early menopause for many different reasons.
Premature menopause, early menopause, or premature ovarian failure (POF) happens when there is an absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before the age of 40.
Here are a few things that can make your hormones get off- kilter and possibly set off an early menopause.
- Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Low body weight can interfere with the production of hormones.
- Physical and emotional stress can block hormone production and cause POF. Intense exercise is an example of physical stress.
- Ovarian disease
- Surgical removal of the ovaries
- Poorly functioning adrenal glands
- Some immune disorders like myasthenia gravis
- The destruction of germ cells in pre- or post-pubertal life by viral infections such as mumps, drugs, or radiation can set off early menopause by causing premature ovarian failure.
- No past pregnancies
- Primary ovarian failure has been found to be hereditary.
Studies have correlated alcohol, meat, and cigarettes
with premature menopause.
Things you need to be aware of:
Despite the falling levels of fertility hormones during perimenopause, you can still become pregnant.
Menopause, as well as POF, can bring unwanted health conditions including:
• Thyroid function
• Addison’s disease (an autoimmune disorder)
• Heart disease – Blood cholesterol is affected by falling levels of estrogen. The good cholesterol (HDL – high density lipoprotein) begins to fall and the bad cholesterol (LDL – low density lipoprotein) rises. This is not good news for your heart. If you haven’t had a heart healthy lifestyle, you will need to adopt one now.
This list is by no means all inclusive. So as you can see, it’s important to take proactive or preventative measures now to try and ward off problems in the future.
What’s menopause like? What kind of symptoms can you expect? These are just a couple of the most common questions women ask about menopause.
Below is a list of the most common symptoms that perimenopause and menopause can bring.
But keep in mind that not all women experience these symptoms.
- Hot flashes (sudden, intense feelings of warmth that can be accompanied by profuse sweating)
- Skipped periods
- Heart palpitations
- Urinary urgency
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Lack of energy
- Decreased or increased libido
- Mood swings
- Feelings of depression
- Difficulty with concentration
- Memory problems
- Skin becomes drier
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Because hot flashes are one of the most noticeable and bothersome of the menopausal symptoms, you want to be prepared, if you are a hot flasher. Learn what can trigger your hot flashes.
Here is a list of possible hot flash triggers:
- Hot drinks like coffee or tea
- Spicy foods
- Alcoholic drinks
- Hot weather
- Warmer temperature in room
- Dressing too heavily in layers
So what can you do? Proactive is definitely better than reactive. So learning what to do now instead of responding to problems later is the best way to go.
If you experience any of the symptoms we’ve talked about today, go read Natural Remedies for Menopause Symptoms to see what your choices are. You might just find the perfect remedy for you.
Share your experiences with us. What have you found to be helpful or not helpful in controlling any menopause symptoms you’ve had?
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