Menopause is a natural biological process, but the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and other emotional symptoms may cause sleep disruption, lower a woman’s energy, or affect emotional health. The World Health Organization (WHO) says menopause is the “permanent cessation of menstruation resulting from the loss of ovarian follicular activity”, noting that 12 months of consecutive amenorrhea is recognized as natural menopause. But, why do women experience hormonal disorders during menopause? City People’s Contributing Editor, IYABO OYAWALE asked Lagos Doctor, Anthony Onwualu. Find his responses below:
What is menopause?
Menopause is when a woman goes 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. There is also surgical menopause which is caused by having surgery like a hysterectomy.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Most women have different signs and symptoms of menopause, but these are the most common. Some hormonal medications can also cause symptoms like these too. They include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, increased heart rate, dyspareunia (painful sex), urgent need to urinate more frequently, irritability, night sweats, dry skin, difficulty in sleeping, weight gain, etc.
Why do women suffer from hormonal disorders during menopause?
The simplest way to put it is that “they just have to”. It is more of an imbalance than a disorder when menopause is involved. Menopause is a definite phase that every woman will go through. The two main hormones affected are estrogen and progesterone. The release of these hormones is regulated by the pituitary gland which is part of the endocrine system.
During menopause, there is a gradual decrease in the production of these 2 hormones.These two basic hormones are responsible for the female menstrual cycle. Estrogen helps in the development of female characteristics and progesterone secretes the cervical mucus that keeps the vagina lubricated. Conditions like menopause that affect the endocrine system always cause hormonal imbalances.
When can women expect to experience menopause?
It is generally accepted that most women reach menopause by the ages of 45 -55. Some women can also have menopause well before their 40s. This is called premature menopause.
There are 3 stages of menopause:
•Perimenopause: During this stage which usually begins years before menopause, the lady may start to experience irregular periods or scanty periods due to the steady decrease of estrogen levels.
•Menopause: This is when a lady has gone 12 consecutive months with no menstrual cycle
•Post menopause: These are the years after menopause. They last till death.
Will having a hysterectomy cause menopause?
This is called surgical menopause. This radical surgery can be performed for a number of reasons like trauma, ovarian or cervical cancer, multiple endometrial polyps or cysts, and mature age of the female.
How can women prevent hot flashes?
You actually can’t prevent hot flashes but you can reduce or manage them. Taking supplements like probiotics can help. Drinking adequate water and lifestyle modifications can help.
Does menopause cause bone loss?
This is also related to estrogen levels and the way they affect your bones.Estrogen regulates bone metabolism. After menopause, your bones become less dense and are more likely to break or fracture. To avoid this, you can get calcium supplements or eat more calcium-rich foods.
Does menopause increase the risk of heart disease?
No, it does not. Menopause is a natural phase that every woman must go through. However, the habits that were developed before reaching menopause like smoking, a high-fat diet, a sedentary lifestyle, etc, can be risk factors for heart disease.
Do women have sexual problems after menopause?
I wouldn’t call them sexual problems, but there are some issues that come with menopause that may affect your sexual life, like low libido, vaginal dryness, and easy irritability.
What can be done about vaginal dryness?
Invest in a good lubricant. KY jelly, a water-based lubricant is good. CBD lubricants are also a good option. They are absorbed via vaginal mucosa and can increase sensitivity during intercourse.
How are sexual problems after menopause evaluated?
Well, if you go to see your doctor when you are having symptoms of menopause, he will ask your age, sexual history, etc. Most of the time, if they diagnose that it is menopause that is behind some of your sexual problems, we advise on supplements, lubricants, sex toys, etc.
What can menopausal women do if they have trouble sleeping?
If the sleeping problems are not caused by bad sleeping habits like always being on your phone 30 mins before bed, a bad diet, etc. Then the next option is lifestyle modification i.e. doing exercise and stretching. If all this does not help, you can always use a sleeping aid prescribed by your doctor
Can hormone therapy (HT) help treat menopause symptoms?
Yes, they can. They are actually quite effective. Although, it would be good to note that they do not reverse menopause and they may or may not relieve all or most symptoms. Some women say going through HRT is not worth it because of some of the side effects e.g. severe mood swings and unexplained weight gain.
What can women do to improve mood swings from menopause?
Exercise regularly, get enough sleep, eat healthily, practice relaxation, avoid stress, have someone to talk to, spoil yourself.
Why does forgetfulness occur during menopause?
As the estrogen levels in your body continue to decrease from pre-menopause up to menopause, estrogen can no longer participate in brain function like it normally used to. This can lead to memory lapses, absent-mindedness, and short-term memory issues.