“One night, I suddenly woke up to a feeling of extreme heat in my face and chest. I felt as if I was drowning in a hot bath! Since then, and for several years, I have continued to suffer from these hot flashes without warning. I have become tired and exhausted, and many times I feel depressed. I felt like I was losing control of my life, and I felt alone and lost. I didn’t know what was happening to me, or how to deal with these new feelings. The doctor told me that what I was experiencing were symptoms of menopause, which is a natural stage in every woman’s life, and my curiosity inspired me to discover more about the menopause journey in women and its impact on the body and mental state.”
This story is an example for millions of women who suffer from menopause around the world. What are the symptoms of this stage? When does it end? Are there ways to deal with these symptoms?
In this article, my dear, we will answer these and other questions, and provide you with everything you need to know.
In this Article
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the stage that a woman reaches when she stops menstruating completely. It is the stage in which a woman’s ability to have children ends; As a result of the ovaries stopping activity, the secretion of the main female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone stops.
A woman is considered to be in menopause if her period does not come for 12 months, and it occurs in most women between the ages of 45 and 55 years.
When menstruation stops before the age of 45, it is called early menopause, and before menopause occurs, there is a transition period called perimenopause. During this period, the menstrual cycle may change and the flow becomes irregular.
A woman goes through a long and changing journey during her life, such as:
This period may last for years, during which the level of female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, fluctuates between increases and decreases, and this leads to irregular menstruation. However, a woman at this stage can still have the ability to reproduce.
As we mentioned previously, menopause is the stopping point of the menstrual cycle, and the ovaries stop releasing ovum and producing most estrogen
It usually begins within two to three years of the last menstrual period. At this stage, the body tries to restore balance and adapt to the changes that occur, and the severity of symptoms is expected to decrease.
From the time a woman reaches puberty until before menopause, one egg is formed in the ovaries every month in a regular process that includes changes in the level of female hormones.
Egg maturation stimulating hormone (FSH) rises to support the secretion of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones rise to prepare the uterus to receive the fetus in the event of pregnancy. When pregnancy does not occur, they suddenly decrease, leading to bleeding and monthly menstruation.
In each female ovary, there is a specific number of eggs. When these eggs are close to being exhausted, hormonal changes occur in the woman’s body. The level of female hormones decreases and rises irregularly, and the woman notices changes, including the following:
Menopause Physical Symptoms
- Hot flashes and night sweats.
- Sleep problems.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Vaginal dryness, which causes pain during intercourse.
- Breast tenderness.
- Difficulty sleeping and insomnia.
- Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, or mild depression).
- Dryness of the skin, eyes or mouth.
- Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Irregular, heavier or lighter menstrual cycle than usual.
Some people may also suffer from:
- Increased heart rate.
- Difficulty concentrating or memory loss (often temporary).
- Increase in weight.
- Hair loss or lack of hair density.
Hot flashes and how long they last
Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause. They usually begin before menopause in women and can continue for several years afterward. Some cases may be so severe that they affect a woman’s life in general.
Hot flashes usually last for 1 to 10 minutes, and the frequency of these flashes varies from once every hour to a few times a month. The triggers for hot flashes may also differ between women, and it is important to identify and avoid those triggers to control the problem of hot flashes.
In some severe cases, medical treatment may be needed to control hot flashes and reduce their impact on a woman’s life during menopause. Still, they usually become less severe over time.
Menopause Mental Symptoms
It is common for women to experience recurring bouts of sadness and the desire to cry for no apparent reason during menopause. Depression, mood swings, and anxiety are common at this stage. Menopause is associated with stress and psychological pressure that may affect a woman’s emotional state.
Some women feel unaccepted and undesirable in life and may wonder if reproductive life is really over.
Their ability to have fun may be affected and their sexual desire may decrease, which increases feelings of anxiety and tension about how their partner thinks and appreciates them during this stage.
You may feel mood swings or become more nervous, and scientists do not know exactly why this is the case. Family pressures and changes such as the growth of children or the aging of parents, a previous history of depression, or feeling tired may be the reasons behind these changes in mood.
When to See a Doctor
It is a good idea to seek medical help if menopause symptoms are affecting your daily life if you have other unrelated symptoms, or if you are experiencing menopause symptoms and you are younger than 45 years of age.
You can ask some questions such as:
- Are these symptoms normal for people in menopause in women?
- Is there treatment for the symptoms?
- Is hormone therapy still an option?
- What can I do to feel better?
You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any vaginal bleeding; To rule out a serious medical condition.
Dealing with the Physical Changes of Menopause in Women
You may notice weight gain, which may be more related to age and lifestyle changes.
However, menopause may change the location of fat storage in the body. The metabolic rate may also decrease.
Although this is normal, you may feel confused and upset to see your body changing, so try these techniques to build a healthy outlook for yourself:
- Focus on what you like about yourself instead of what you think are flaws.
- When critical thoughts come, it can help to write down some self-compliments that you can return to later.
- Indulging in the pursuit of positive activities that allow you to grow, and seeking to expand your social or spiritual life to replace internal, self-critical habits.
Implementing the tips can boost your body image, health, and outlook, even if you don’t lose weight.
When menopause occurs, the likelihood of health problems increases, and it may be difficult to distinguish menopausal complications from those associated with the aging process.
Some complications or health changes you may experience at this time include:
- The vagina atrophy and becomes drier.
- Osteoporosis which is the weakening of bones by losing their mass and strength.
- Mood changes or sudden emotional changes.
- Inability to control urine.
- Heart or blood vessel disease, such as heart attacks and strokes.
- Breast cancer does not necessarily result from menopause, but changing hormone levels may contribute to its occurrence.
- Weight gain and change in body composition.
Not everyone should seek medical advice during menopause. However, if you need to go back to the doctor, the doctor may use a blood test to confirm the possibility of menopause.
Blood tests are used to measure levels of female hormones, such as FSH and estradiol.
- FSH is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain, and FSH levels increase significantly during menopause in women.
- Estradiol is a type of estrogen, and estrogen levels decrease significantly during menopause.
Blood levels exceeding 30 mIU/ml continuously, with no menstrual cycle for a year, can usually confirm menopause in women.
Depending on your symptoms and health history, your doctor may also order additional blood tests to help rule out other underlying conditions that may be causing your symptoms. These tests can include:
- Thyroid functions.
- Blood fat levels.
- Liver functions.
- Kidney functions.
- Tests for levels of testosterone, progesterone, prolactin, estradiol, and chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
Treating Menopause Symptoms
If you’re experiencing discomfort due to approaching menopause, talk to your doctor.
Treatments for menopausal symptoms include:
During menopause in women, the body goes through major hormonal changes. When the ovaries do not produce enough estrogen and progesterone, hormone therapy can help replace the lost hormones. It boosts hormone levels in your body and can help relieve the resulting symptoms. It can also help prevent osteoporosis.
- Estrogen therapy (ET)
Estrogen is available in the form of tablets, skin patches, gels, or creams, and is considered the most effective treatment option. Depending on your medical and family history, your doctor may recommend a low dose of estrogen to relieve your symptoms.
For symptoms related to the vagina and urinary system, topical vaginal estrogen can be used. It is used via a tablet, ring, or cream placed directly into the vagina. A small amount of estrogen is secreted and absorbed by the vaginal tissue.
This treatment can help relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, and some urinary system symptoms.
- Concomitant estrogen or progestin therapy (EPT)
It is called combination therapy because it uses doses of estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is available in its natural form, or also as a progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone). This type of hormone therapy is intended when a hysterectomy has not been performed.
There are health risks associated with hormone therapy, including:
- Endometrial cancer.
- Formation of gallstones.
- Deep vein thrombosis.
- Pulmonary embolism.
This risk decreases if you start hormone treatment within 10 years of the start of menopause. After this period, the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases increases.
There is an association between the occurrence of severe hot flashes and night sweats and the risk of cardiovascular disease, and your doctor may suggest starting hormone therapy if you suffer from these severe symptoms, as they are considered an indicator of the future risk of cardiovascular disease.
The decision to begin hormone therapy is an individual decision, and you should discuss all pre-existing medical conditions and family history with your doctor to understand the potential risks versus benefits of hormone therapy.
There are some non-hormonal treatments for menopausal symptoms in women. These treatments can be an effective alternative to hormonal treatment and include the following:
Here are some nutritional tips that can help relieve symptoms:
- Reduce daily caffeine consumption.
- Reduce your intake of spicy foods, hot peppers, and strong spices, as they may increase the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
- Add foods containing phytoestrogens (isoflavonoids) to your diet. They are thought to mimic some of the effects of the hormone in the body and act as a nutritional supplement to improve psychological well-being after menopause, such as:
- Flax seeds.
- Red clover.
Reduce and avoid hot flashes
It is important to determine what triggers your hot flashes, and then avoid the triggers as much as possible. You can follow the following tips:
- Keep the bedroom cool during the night.
- Wear clothes made of natural, light fabrics such as cotton.
- Quit smoking, as smoking may increase the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
- Losing weight may help relieve hot flashes, so you can work to maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid hot drinks and spicy foods.
- Avoid stress and psychological stress, as they can increase the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques may help to relieve stress.
It may be difficult to exercise when you’re experiencing hot flashes, but it can help relieve several other symptoms of menopause in women.
The benefits of exercise include:
- Helps improve sleep and relieve insomnia disorder.
- Calm, relaxing exercises boost mood and relieve anxiety and fears, such as yoga.
- Promotes overall health and improves fitness and strength.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes weight loss if necessary.
- Improves cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Increases muscle strength and bone density, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Improves balance, flexibility and motor coordination.
- Feeling of general comfort and improved overall quality of life.
Start with simple and moderate exercises, gradually increasing the time and intensity according to your ability and desire, and choose activities that suit you and are enjoyable for you, whether it is walking, swimming, cycling, or any other type of exercise.
Join support groups
Joining a support group allows you to express your feelings and talk about your experience, and it also has other benefits, including:
- Talking to people who are going through the same menopause experience can be very comforting for many women.
- A support group provides a safe environment to get support and encouragement from others who understand what you’re going through.
- The group helps you deal with challenges and provides answers to your questions that you may not have expressed.
- You can get valuable information and advice from women who have gone through menopause or are experiencing the same symptoms.
Your Partner’s Support through Menopause
Menopause is a difficult stage for women, as they suffer from mood swings and physiological changes that may make them feel anxious. So, it is important for the man to support his partner at this stage.
Here are some specific tips you can implement:
- Ask your partner how you can help her, or if there are certain things you can do to relieve her symptoms or make her feel better.
- Engage her in activities she enjoys. This can help improve her mood and reduce stress.
- Give her gifts and gentle touches, as these things make her feel loved and appreciated.
Remember that menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life. By supporting your partner, you can help her adapt to this new stage and move forward with her life.
In conclusion, my dear, let us remember together that menopause in women is not the end of the road, but rather the beginning of a new chapter in your life. You may face new challenges and changes in your body and emotions, but you must know that you have the ability to adapt and overcome these challenges.
Take care of your health and psychological comfort by exercising and eating healthy food, as this will contribute to improving your general condition and increasing your feeling of comfort. Also, do not forget the importance of social life. Maintain contact with loved ones and friends and enjoy beautiful times with them.
The most important thing is, do not hesitate to ask for help and support when needed. It may be your family, friends, or doctors who provide you with the necessary support and advice.
In the end, know that you are a strong woman capable of overcoming any challenge you face, so enjoy your life and prepare to welcome a new stage of maturity and experience. You deserve happiness and comfort in this new stage.
Frequently Asked Questions about Menopause in Women
Is there menstruation after fifty?
There is no regular menstruation after the age of 50 and the onset of menopause in women. By the age of 51, the ovaries stop releasing eggs, and you do not get your period.
Does pregnancy delay menopause?
Pregnancy and breastfeeding may contribute to delaying menopause in women, and some research suggests that pregnancy and breastfeeding can reduce the risk of early menopause.
Is dizziness a symptom of menopause?
Yes. Dizziness can be a symptom of menopause in women; As a result of hormonal changes occurring during this period, they affect the nervous system and cause dizziness. Hot flashes, anxiety, and psychological tension can also be related to dizziness.
How long do menopausal symptoms last?
Menopause symptoms usually last for 4-5 years after the last menstrual period in most women, and these symptoms are expected to continue for up to seven years, and there is a small percentage of women who may experience these symptoms for up to 11 years after menopause.