Health

Menopause: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Evidence Based Article 📄
This article has been based on relevant and up-to-date scientific studies. Our writers are unbiased and objective and present the facts as they are known. Numbers in brackets within the article refer to sources included in the reference list at the end of the article.

The natural cessation of the menstrual cycle, menopause literally marks the end of fertility.

The majority of women start experiencing the symptoms of menopause at the beginning of their 50s, but the ovarian or pelvic damage may lead to menopause much earlier in life.

Plus, some women are prone to premature menopause that can occur as early as in the 30s.

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Here’s your full guide about menopause to be aware of what it is, how to relieve the symptoms, and how to prevent premature menopause.

What’s menopause?

Women who haven’t menstruated in the last 12 months and are unable to conceive naturally are at the risk of menopause.

This generally occurs between the age of 45 and 55, how can develop after or earlier this age range.

Many women start experiencing the symptoms of menopause around 4 years before their last menstruation.

The statistics showed that 1 in 10 adult women have menopausal symptoms for about 12 years after their last menstruation.

There are lots of factors that can help a woman determine when she’s going to menopause, such as ovary health and genetics.

But the biggest sign of it occurs during the perimenopause period. This is the time when the hormones start changing, preparing the body for menopause.

Perimenopause usually lasts anywhere from several months to a few years and affects women in their mid-40s. Some females don’t experience perimenopause and they enter the menopause phase right away.

Even though menopause is neither a disease nor a disorder, it can negatively impact women’s health and lead to serious health issues.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

The symptoms of menopause are usually the following:

1.Vaginal dryness

Discomfort, itching, and dryness of the vagina appear during perimenopause.

This can lead to the pain during sex called dyspareunia. Women suffer from this type of pain because of the reduced estrogen levels. The prolonged low estrogen levels cause the condition called vaginal atrophy.

It’s a vaginal inflammation that occurs as a result of the shrinking and thinning of the tissues, along with poor lubrication.

2.Low fertility

Since the perimenopause stage lasts from 3 to 5 years before menopause, the estrogen levels in the woman’s body tend to reduce significantly. Thus, it becomes harder to get pregnant during the perimenopause stage.

3.Irregular periods

There might be dozens of reasons why you have the irregular menstruation cycle, and menopause is one of the major ones.

Your periods may stop for several weeks or months and then start again. Some women don’t menstruate for 6 months and then their periods seem to be regular but more painful. This factor highly depends of woman’s health.

4.Hot flashes

The quick and rapid sensation of the heat in the upper body is called a hot flash, which is one of the most frequent symptoms of menopause.

Hot flashes may occur several times during the day and may start in the chest, neck, or face, and progress downward or upward. The skin turns patchy and red, and sweating follows.

The heart rate may elevate, become irregular, or strengthen. Most women experience hot flashes during the first year after the final menstruation cycle.

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5.Night sweats

Night sweats are simply hot flashes that happen during the sleep. They tend to last from several seconds to a few minutes and cause a number of sleep issues.

You may also have trouble falling asleep due to nighttime hot flashes.

6.Mood swings and depression

Almost every woman faces emotional changes when she’s about to enter the menopause stage.

The hormonal changes negatively affect mental health and trigger mood swings and depressed feelings.

Often, they cause anxiety that lead to sleep disorders. You may also have low libido due to these emotional changes.

7.Urinary problems

The woman’s urinary cycle can also be disrupted by menopause. There’s a higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), such as cystitis, during menopause, as well. Frequent toilet visits become a norm.

Read more: Urinary Tract Infections Biggest Causes (+11 All-Natural Ways to Treat Them)

8.Problems with cognitive functions

Poor concentration, weak memory and other cognitive functions may indicate about menopause too. Many women experience difficulty focusing for a long period and short-term memory issues.

The other minor menopause symptoms are:

  • breast shrinkage;
  • thinning hair or hair loss;
  • sudden hair growth on the neck, face, upper back, chest, and other areas of the body;
  • reduced bone mass;
  • stiff or painful joints;
  • reduced muscle mass;
  • racing heart;
  • headaches;
  • tender or sore breasts;
  • dry eyes, mouth, and skin;
  • weight gain.

The possible complications of menopause are:

  • blood vessel disease;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • overactive bladder;
  • periodontal disease;
  • cataracts;
  • osteoporosis;
  • reduced metabolic function;
  • painful intercourse or dyspareunia;
  • vulvovaginal atrophy.

What are the causes of menopause and premature menopause?

The woman’s body starts to undergo some critical changes in response to decreased levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.

The loss of the active ovarian follicles is one of the biggest changes happening within the body. Ovarian follicles are the special structures that stimulate the production and release of the eggs from the ovary wall, promoting fertility and menstruation.

The majority of women in the mid-to-late 40s first experience the frequency of the menstruation becoming less consistent, since the flow gets longer and heavier.

Menopause may also be caused or induced by surgical removal or injury of the ovaries and pelvic structures. The most typical causes of induced menopause are:

  • pelvic injuries that destroy or severely damage the ovaries;
  • pelvic radiation;
  • the shutdown of ovary function, or ovarian ablation, which may be caused by surgery, hormone therapy, or certain radiotherapy techniques in females with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer;
  • surgical removal of the ovaries, or bilateral oophorectomy.

The premature menopause is usually caused by:

  • Cancer chemotherapy;
  • Surgical removal of both ovaries;
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease;
  • Genetics;
  • Chromosome defects;
  • Hypothyroidism;
  • Addison’s disease;
  • Turner’s syndrome;
  • Down’s syndrome;
  • Enzyme deficiencies.

How to Ease the Symptoms of Menopause

Depending on which symptoms of menopause you’re experiencing, you can either relieve them at home or receive a special medical treatment. Here are the most common ways to deal with menopause.

1.Detox your fridge and pantry

The way you eat can play a key role in how severe the symptoms might be. You should feed your body with the right foods to help it cope with all the changes. Check out your fridge and pantry and get rid of all the unhealthy stuff you’ll find there.

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Make sure your diet consists of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin D, unrefined carbohydrates, fiber, unsaturated fats, whole grains, fruit, and veggies. Moreover, limit your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food.

Supplementing as an additional source of nutrients is possible as well, but remember to consult a doctor before taking any. Generally, it’s recommended to take plenty of vitamin D and 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium every day.

Read more: 13 Healthy Ways to Detox in 30 Days

2.Move your body

When you’re experiencing both mild and harsh menopause symptoms, the last thing you may want to do is exercise.

However, the more you move your body, the fewer symptoms you face. Working out during menopause has been shown to provide a host of health benefits, such as increasing mood, fighting depression, preventing weight gain, protecting the bones, and lowering cancer risk, among the others.

Some women claim regular exercise helps them reduce hot flashes and sleep problems. Kegel exercises are particularly useful for warding off urinary incontinence due to their abilities to strengthen the pelvic floor. Aim to exercise at least once per day, but avoid doing it late in the evening. If you don’t feel like working out, consider practicing yoga.

3.Get enough sleep

Your body needs to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep to be able to deal with the changes menopause might be causing to your body.

Go to bed before 11 pm to get enough beauty sleep. Quality sleep will increase your energy levels, improve the skin and hair health, and help your organs function properly.

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4.Drug treatments

When you experience vaginal issues, drug treatments might be applied. Vaginal estrogen is one of them and it’s used in the form of a cream, ring, or tablet to treat dyspareunia, vaginal dryness, and some urinary issues.

Certain drug treatment can also be used to reduce the likelihood of hot flashes, but such treatment possesses many side effects, so consult your doctor first.

5.Mild antidepressants

Apart from decreasing menopausal hot flashes, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can also help you overcome mood swings and depressive thoughts. Citalopram, paroxetine, fluoxetine, and venlafaxine are among the most commonly used drugs. Again, don’t take any antidepressants without your doctor’s agreement.

6.Hormone replacement therapy

Supplementing the progestin and estrogen levels helps to control the symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be obtained through a patch on the skin, which aids in releasing progestin and estrogen. HRT can also prevent other symptoms of menopause.

One of the benefits of hormone replacement therapy is that it helps to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer or colon cancer.

Plus, it helps to ward off osteoporosis, and other possible menopausal symptoms. But if the therapy goes wrong, you have an increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and a number of cancer types, including uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers.

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Natural Remedies to Fight Menopause Symptoms

While natural remedies might not be highly effective in treating all the menopause symptoms, they might have fewer side effects. After all, not every woman wants to overload her body with tons of chemicals. Before trying any of these natural methods, be sure to talk to a doctor.

1.Acupuncture

Focused on rebalancing the body, acupuncture has been found to aid in treating a wide range of menopause symptoms, including depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and hot flashes.

2.Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a natural antidepressant that’s essential for menopausal women. It helps to maintain the uterine muscle fiber, as well as manage mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Add cinnamon to your smoothies, stews, herbal teas, baked goods, and other drinks to reap its maximum health benefits.

3.Chasteberry

Chasteberry is a healing herb that helps to regulate the hormone levels by supporting and nourishing the endocrine system. It aids in dealing with the menopause symptoms such as sweating, hot flashes, mild depression, and even vaginal dryness.

You can either take a supplement or drink it instead of tea. Add a teaspoon of minced chasteberry to a cup of hot water, cover, and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Once it’s brewed, strain, and have 2 to 3 cups throughout the day.

4.Black cohosh

Black cohosh extract has been proven to help to relieve the majority of menopausal symptoms, including night sweats and hot flashes. The herb acts like a phytoestrogen and has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory qualities due to its good salicylic acid content. Black cohosh is available in dried form, tablets, and capsules, but since it has a lot of side effects, consult a specialist to figure out how to take it effectively.

5.Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to reduce heart palpitations, treat vaginal dryness, and manage hot flashes. You can either use Vitamin E oil topically to improve lubrication or take vitamin E supplements. The recommended daily intake is 600 IUs.

6.Soy

The isoflavones found in soy products aid in balancing hormone levels and promote its estrogenic activity. Incorporate soy products, such as milk or yogurt, into your eating plan to drastically reduce the severity of the hot flashes.

7.Apple cider vinegar

Organic or homemade apple cider vinegar can reduce the intensity of night sweats and hot flashes. Add one tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and drink in the morning.

8.Flaxseed

Flaxseed is loaded with lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, which both act as potent phytoestrogens. Regular flaxseed consumption helps to prevent hot flashes. Use ground flaxseed as it’s easy to digest unlike the whole flaxseed. Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your yogurt, smoothies, soups, or salads.

Menopause may not be easy to deal with, but unfortunately, we can’t avoid this natural process. All we can do is to minimize menopause symptoms and control the hormone levels. If you feel like you’re having most of the signs of menopause, it’s time to call your gynecologist.

References:

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