A Few Facts About Menopause (Menopause Explained)
When it comes to menstruating, no periods can be the best phase. And that's what happens when you're going through menopause. So menopause is exactly what it sounds like, right?
Menopause is a phase in your life where your periods cease. Just like puberty was a phase in your life during your teenage years, menopause is a phase later in life.
Generally, if you don't have your monthly period for 12 consecutive months without any other reasons related to the cause, you have officially entered menopause. This period of your life usually begins in your mid-40s to mid-50s and can last for several years.
Yes! The time had passed when mood swings made cramps worse. Despite sounding appealing, menopause adversely affects your physical and mental health.
Have you ever wondered how it affects your body and mental health? Check out the article below to know how menopause affects mental health and your body.
The Three Stages To Menopause
A menstruator goes through three stages during menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.
Menstruators can enter menopause without experiencing any symptoms or complications related to menopause.
Symptoms of menopause can be debilitating for some, especially those signalling the onset of perimenopause and lasting for years.
Most of the symptoms menstruators experience are caused by their bodies' decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone. Hormones affect your body in a variety of ways, resulting in a wide array of symptoms.
STAGE 1: Perimenopause
This stage usually begins four to eight years before you enter the menopause stage. In perimenopause, the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen eight to ten years before menopause.
During perimenopause, the ovaries continue to release eggs until they cease production during menopause. So, during perimenopause, you can still get pregnant.
Perimenopause affects you in several ways, including altering your mood and changing your period. These changes are caused by the natural decline in estrogen and progesterone levels in your body.
Consequently, the body adjusts to lower levels of these hormones as your ovaries produce fewer of them. As a result, your hormones are in the opposite state of what they were in during the teenage years.
STAGE 2: Menopause
Apart from menopause, several factors can cause a period to cease. During this time, you may not experience your periods, and generally, once you have been without one for one full year, you can determine if it really happened.
However, a gynaecologist can determine if you have officially entered menopause. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Factors like height, weight, number of children, or whether you take oral contraceptives don't influence when you hit menopause or what symptoms you experience.
The bones tend to lose density during menopause, increasing the risk of fractures. In addition, a variety of symptoms are common during this stage, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep disorders.
STAGE 3: Postmenopause
The term postmenopause is officially used when you have been without a period for one full year.
It will take time for your shifting hormones to settle into a better balance. And there may be a significant reduction in hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
The postmenopausal years are when you talk with your doctor about your long-term health goals and re-evaluate your health status. The decrease in estrogen increases your risk of heart disease, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and other heart-related conditions and illnesses.
Signs That You're Nearing Menopause
You can identify signs for everything, such as when your monthly cycle is about to begin and when you are approaching menopause.
Several menopause-related symptoms appear during the early phases of menopause, such as irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, forgetfulness, emotional instability, anxiety, acne, migraines, weight gain, and changes in sexual function.
How Menopause Affects Your Body
As menstruators lose their reproductive ability, they experience menopause as a medical condition and a personal experience. As oestrogen production declines with age, many menstruators in their 40s experience symptoms that may require medical attention.
The primary hormones responsible for reproduction are estrogen and progesterone. Aging can disrupt an individual's ovarian function, resulting in irregular or missed periods due to irregular ovulation. After the ovaries cease to ovulate for an extended period of time, periods will eventually stop. As a result, your ovarian hormone production is decreased, resulting in lower estrogen and progesterone levels.
Besides preventing you from getting pregnant and causing you to cease having periods, menopause has several other effects on your body.There are symptoms such as vaginal dryness, night sweats, reduced sex drive, frequent urination, decreased libido, insomnia, hot flashes, and urinary tract infection.
The Effects Of Menopause On Mental Health
Depression and anxiety are often multifactorial, but hormone changes associated with menopause can contribute to them.
Since estrogen acts as a neurotransmitter and is responsible for mood stability; fluctuations, declines, or imbalances in estrogen may aggravate mood disorders.
Estrogen affects serotonin production as well as Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) and Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) activity and sensitizes serotonin receptors.
Anxiety, tension, depression mixed with cognitive changes (irritability, sadness, lack of motivation, aggression, difficulty focusing, strain, difficulty concentrating). These effects are similar to those caused by constant premenstrual stress (PMS).
It is common for many menstruators to experience anxiety during menopause. For example, it may occur as part of hot flashes.
Still, it can also occur independently and be difficult to recognize as part of menopause, especially at first, when there may be no other symptoms present.
What You Eat Affects Your Symptoms
Menopause is associated with many unpleasant symptoms that can cause discomfort and may increase your risk of certain diseases.
As a result of this hormonal change, you may suffer from symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia; in addition, the change in hormones may affect your bone density, which may lead to an increased risk of fractures. However, dietary changes may ease the symptoms of menopause.
Menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, low bone density, and poor sleep can be relieved by certain foods.
Women are at increased risk of fractures when estrogen levels decline during menopause. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin D and K - all essential for bone health - are found in dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Menstruators going through menopause may benefit from consuming healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds, chia seeds, anchovies, salmon, and mackerel are among the foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids.
Fruits and vegetables also contain fiber and antioxidants in addition to vitamins and minerals. In comparison to the control group, those eating more vegetables, fruit, fiber, and soy significantly reduced their hot flashes over a period of one year. These findings were attributed to a healthier diet and weight loss.
Wholegrains are packed with B vitamins and various nutrients like thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and riboflavin. Diets high in wholegrains are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and premature death. Among wholegrain foods, there is brown rice, whole-wheat bread, quinoa, barley.
Certain foods can exacerbate symptoms of menopause.
Processed foods such as potato chips and cookies may taste good but are often high in sodium and high in added sugars, which can cause water retention and bloat.
A healthy snack like string cheese, carrots, hummus, wholegrain crackers, and peanut butter will satisfy your cravings without triggering symptoms.
When you consume high-heat foods, you may experience hot flashes and sweating. Avoid spicy foods like hot peppers, jalapenos, and cayenne if you tend to feel hot or have high blood pressure. Instead, increase the flavor of bland foods by adding cumin, curry, turmeric, and basil.
Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol can worsen your mood swings. A report stated that women who consumed caffeine and alcohol for the duration of their menstrual cycle had a higher chance of having hot flashes than women who did not. By limiting your intake, you may be able to reduce your symptoms.
Diets high in fat may increase your risk of heart disease, a condition that menstruators already face after menopause.
Consuming saturated fat will lower the body's serotonin levels, so stick to ground beef, chicken, and turkey 90 percent lean or more.
It is good to eat healthy foods at any point in your life, including during menopause. Establishing healthy eating habits now will benefit your health for years to come.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and high-quality proteins will help ease the symptoms of menopause. While intake of phytoestrogens and healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids from fish, can also aid in weight loss.
Limiting added sugars, processed carbs, alcohol, caffeine, and high-sodium or spicy foods will help ease those symptoms.
With these simple changes in your diet, you can make this new phase in your life much easier.
Each menstruator experiences menopause differently. For example, while you may never experience hot flashes, insomnia leaves you tired and irritable. Alternatively, you may notice vaginal dryness as a first sign.
Symptoms of menopause can last for months or years, depending on the individual. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and using home remedies or over-the-counter medications can help manage menopause symptoms better.
Nevertheless, you should consult your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms. There could be something else going on in your body that is causing your symptoms.
Making regular appointments with your gynaecologist will help you monitor your health and maintain a healthy body.
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