Menopause is a professional term for the last menstrual period. Often, however, this term is used broadly for a period of several months, even years, before and after the last menstrual period – i.e. for a period of time that doctors call it climacteric.
The last menstrual period occurs, on average, at the age of 51, although it can occur earlier (in the forties), as well as later (at the age of 58). In the years before menopause, a regular monthly cycle of hormone production and egg development in the ovaries is disrupted. Therefore, menstrual cycle disorders are also present, and menstruation becomes irregular. Finally, when the ovaries cease to ”work”, the menstrual periods end completely.
Menopause is a natural stage in life and is not a sign of any illness or disorder.
About 25% of women do not notice any change in menopause, with the exception of cassation of menstruation. About 50% feel minor physical or psychological changes. The remaining 25% feel uncomfortable, even tortuous symptoms. Physical symptoms include waves of heat, sweating, dryness of the vagina (which sometimes causes pain during intercourse), heart palpation, joint pain and headache. Non-physical symptoms include depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration and self-confidence, and sleep disorder. The duration of these symptoms varies considerably from case to case, from several weeks to five years.
What to do?
Even if you have unpleasant symptoms, do not forget that they are not at all dangerous to health. Also, do not forget that some emotional and physical problems are common in your age. Accept menopause as a natural fact, not as a disorder that you should be ashamed of.
Talk about symptoms with a partner or a very close person. If, however, you can not cope with menopausal problems, go to your doctor. He will examine you to determine if the cause of your problems is some kind of illesses, and possibly prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms. However, if you notice small traces of bloor or if you get menstruation again for six months after the last menstruation, immediately go to your doctor. All of these symptoms can be a sign of a malignant tumor. Keep in mind that as soon as you discover this process, your prospects for healing are better.
Self-help: you will not be able to avoid natural symptoms of menopause, but there are difficulties that you can solve by yourself. For example, do not ignore health or personal appearance. For most people less food is enough (in later life), so it is better to control the weight with a moderate nutrition than to become depressed due to the weight gain, which you think is normal (but it isn’t). Sweating should not cause you trouble, because you will usually be the only person who notices it. If you sweat at night and if that bothers you, wear a cotton nightdress (as it abrsorbs the sweat) and prepare a spare nightdress next to the bed. If your vagina hurts during intercourse, use a vaginal lubricant. Perhaps you are concerned about the time when you will be able to stop taking contraceptives without the risk of conception. It depends on age. If you are under 50 years old, you should continue to take contraceptives 24 months after your last menstrual period; if you have passed 50, you will have to take them for 12 months after the last menstrual period.
Professional help: therapy depends on a number of factors. If you suffer from irregular or longer menstrual periods, fever waves, or excessive sweating, your doctor may advise you on a hormonal product that will affect your hormonal balance and thereby relieve the symptoms. This treatment is often referred to as substitution hormone therapy (or hormone therapy). Hormones such as estrogen and progestogen are used, combined in the form of a contraceptive pill or separately in the form of tablets, vaginal fat or small grains that are submerged under the skin.
Hormone therapy will establish regularity of menstruation, but not fertility. Your doctor will, in most cases, advise you to take hormones for several months; after that, you will gradually lower the dose until complete termination of the therapy. By then, climatic changes would have to pass, and the symptoms should not come back. If they do come back, you may need another treatment. In some cases, treatment is needed for years, with regular controls to monitor possible consequences.
Apart from hormones, a number of other medications can also relieve menopausal symptoms. Such medicines are applied in women who have significantly exceeded 50, who have cardiac or circulatory disorders or who, for some reason, are not allowed to take hormonal preparations. If your symptoms are mainly of emotional or psychological nature, your doctor will prescribe medication for depression or sleeping pills. Treatment of menopausal problems will not slow down or stop the changes that occur in that period.