These next few corners are to do with women, but also affects the other members of their family, especially if there is a male partner in their lives. Understanding what is going on in the Menopausal years is important, as it can cause unnecessary stress, strain, anxiety, anger and on top of that for the male partner in their life’s, feelings of rejection or loneliness. The stages of Menopause; its symptoms and what happens in the body with hormones, and how diet, exercise, sleep and managing stress, can help. First of all, a brief definition on the different stages and when they can begin:
- Perimenopause or “menopause transition”: This stage can happen 10 years prior to menopause, when the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen, and less progesterone via a part of the ovary, a temporary organ called the corpus luteum. These ovulatory disturbances are what make symptoms arise. Many women may expect to start this stage in their 40s. But some woman may start as early as their 30s, so take note of symptoms. I caution this, as some women who start this early, may feel that there is something seriously wrong with them, not realizing it could be related to perimenopause. This stage lasts till the point where the ovaries stop releasing eggs, which is now at the point of menopause. The last couple years of perimenopause, before onset menopause, a drop in estrogen accelerates. This is where symptoms may escalate, but note, women can still have menstrual cycles and can still get pregnant during this time.
- Menopause: This stage as mentioned above, is when the ovaries no longer release eggs, and menstrual periods have stopped. This is the stage where many symptoms can get worse or new ones arise; hot flashes, vaginal dryness, disinterest in intimacy, sleep problems, and other symptoms. Note: Full blown Menopause is considered when a woman has gone without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Natural menopause happens between ages 45-55 and is part of normal aging. Early menopause happens prior to 45 years of age and premature menopause occurs prior to 40 years of age. Early and Premature menopause may be because of removal of ovaries, damage to ovaries or other related surgical interventions. There can be some increased health concerns with early and even more so with premature menopause, to take extra precautions with.
- Postmenopause: After 12 consecutive months without a period and duration of life, is postmenopausal. During this stage, menopausal symptoms may ease for many women. However, some women continue to experience menopausal symptoms for 10 years or more after menopause transition. The issues these women may experience, can make them be at an increased risk for a number of health conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart disease. This is where many women seek hormone therapy or other alternatives. Keep in mind any bleeding in the postmenopausal stage is not normal and you should see your doctor immediately.
Understanding, recognizing, and taking action, are the best steps taken for an easier transition throughout the menopausal years. Also, every woman’s risk is different, and consulting with their doctor for the path that is right for them, should always be the first step.
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