The term menopause means a pause to the menstrual cycles. Medically a woman is said to have attained menopause if she is facing the absence of menstrual cycles for about one complete year. It is the end of the fertile life of a female and is a natural process in every woman’s life. The function of ovaries comes to a halt and there is no more monthly production of the eggs or estrogen.
EXPECTED AGE OF MENOPAUSE:
Most women experience menopause at about 51 years of age. But this is not a fixed rule and the average age varies from woman to woman. Some women may experience menopause between 45 to 50 years of age. Some may experience even earlier that this.
ABSENCE OF ESTROGEN:
As with the onset of menopause, there is an absence of the normal amount of estrogen produced in fertile women, many symptoms start appearing due to lack of estrogen. Estrogens are particularly required for the healthy bones in women. This is the reason why women suffer more with osteoporosis, a bone disease, in post menopausal age. Now in many countries, the treatment of osteoporosis includes the addition of the ‘Estrogen Replacement Therapy’ also termed as ERT. This is the artificial supplement of estrogen to the women affected with osteoporosis and has given many positive results.
PATHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF MENOPAUSE:
Sometimes menopause can be a result of the cancer chemotherapy or radiotherapy, premature ovarian failure or surgical removal of the ovaries due to any pathological disease.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
The symptoms of menopause vary in a different manner in different women. Some women do not face any symptoms of menopause at all, while others experience many changes. These include:
- Irregular vaginal bleeding,
- Hot flushes,
- Night sweats,
- Vaginal dryness,
- Vaginal itching or irritation,
- Urinary incontinence,
- Increased frequency of urinary tract infections,
- Memory problems,
- Weight gain,
- Minimal hair growth at chin etc and
Menopause increases the risk of heart disease in the absence of estrogen. But it is not recommended to use the ERT just to prevent an increased risk for heart disease. Estrogen Replacement Therapy is particularly helpful to treat the symptoms of osteoporosis.
Some women experiencing the irregular vaginal bleeding are advised the oral contraceptive pills by the physicians in order to reduce these symptoms.
In order to treat an increased vaginal dryness, the local or topical estrogen creams are sometimes prescribed which contain estrogen in them and temporarily reduce the dryness.
Women experiencing the hot flushes are sometimes prescribed the anti depressant drugs to relieve the symptoms. These are called the ‘selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors’ or SSRIs.
Some other treatments are also available to reduce the unwanted symptoms of menopause like isoflavones, vitamin E or black cohosh, herbal medicine.
Menopause is a normal process which occurs naturally in every woman on cessation of her fertile life. This is the reason why couples plan to complete their families in early time period before 35 yrs of age as this is the most possible fertile age of a female. Menopause is not normally related to the age of menarche (beginning of periods). However, it may follow a woman’s mother’s pattern. The age at which a woman’s mother had menopause, may be the same for her.