The Basics of Menopause
Menopause is the cessation of menstruation due to decline in ovarian function that every woman experiences in their late 40s or early 50s. Menopause signals the end of the fertile phase in women’s life. This major hormonal change does not occur abruptly and suddenly and in most women this change takes place without the requirement of any medical intervention.
Menopause is used to define the day after the final menstrual flow occurs. However, menopause refers to the whole menopausal transition period. Perimenopause refers to the years before and after the final episode of menopausal period. In medical terms, Perimenopause is defined as the period when the menses starts becoming irregular and the levels of FSH get increased. The effects and signs of this perimenopause period might start at the early age of 35.
Premenopause refers to the years that lead to the last menstrual period. In this phase, the reproductive hormones become lower and effect of hormonal withdrawal starts. Postmenopause refers to the period when the menopause bleed does not occur for at least 12 months. A woman without a uterus might have high FSH level during this period.
Signs and Symptoms
The hormonal levels fluctuate and drop during the menopausal transition period. The range of effects or symptoms varies from one person to another. The symptoms or effects improve or disappear once the transition completes. Some of the common symptoms are hot flashes, migraine, increased risk of atherosclerosis, rapid heartbeat, watery discharge, urinary urgency, changes in libido, itching, bleeding, dryness, increases susceptibility to infection, back pain, osteopenia, muscle pain, joint pain, formication, skin problems, fatigue, anxiety, mood disturbance, memory loss, and sleep disturbances.
The two important hormones in a woman’s body are progesterone and estrogen. These hormones are produced in the ovaries and their main function is to control the menstrual cycle. As a woman ages, the production of estrogen and progesterone reduces greatly. During menopause, the ovulation stops and thus it reduces the production of progesterone and halts it to zero. This happen because ovulation is the process that trigger the progesterone production. This hormonal imbalance leads to the signs and symptoms of menopause
Perimenopause is not a disorder and this is the natural cycle for all women. Therefore, this does not require any medical treatment. However, there are treatments and therapies available for emotional, mental and physical effects of menopause that disrupts everyday life. Some of the treatments are Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), conjugated equine estrogen (type of HRT), blood pressure medicines, antidepressants, and alternative medicines like Amberen.
HRT is a therapy in which one or group of medications are used to increase the hormone levels, and this treatment provides short term relief. Traditionally, this therapy was given in the form of tablets and now it is available in the form of sprays, gels, patches, and subcutaneous implants. SERMs are the drugs that are produced from the botanical source. The two common SERMs used are tamoxifen and raloxifene. There are also other treatments available that might reduce the risks and effects of menopause.