Menopause - Know it all

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a life changing natural phase of life. It is a phase in a woman’s life where their ovaries stop producing the hormones - estrogen and progesterone. As the result, they stop menstruating permanently. A woman is in menopause when she has gone without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. This can occurs between the age of 45 and 55.

Know your hormones

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Estrogen : 

This hormone plays multiple roles in our body. In women, it helps develop and maintain the reproductive system. Estrogen and Progesterone are the two main sex hormones in women.

 

Estrogen also contributes to mental health, protects bone health, aids optimal functioning of the cardiovascular system, and other essential bodily processes.

Progesterone : 

This hormone plays multiple roles in our body. In women, it helps develop and maintain the reproductive system. Estrogen and Progesterone are the two main sex hormones in women.

 

Estrogen also contributes to mental health, protects bone health, aids optimal functioning of the cardiovascular system, and other essential bodily processes.

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Now let's understand what causes menopause.

  • The female reproductive system has eggs-producing glands called the ovaries which are about the size and sit just above the fallopian tubes—one ovary on each side of the uterus.

  • Women are born with approximately 2 million eggs in their ovaries and these are all the eggs they are ever going to have during their lifetime. However, eleven thousand of them die every month prior to puberty.  

  • A teenage woman has only 300,000-400,000 remaining eggs, and approximately 1000 eggs die each month from that point onwards. 

  • Whenever the woman runs out of her supply of eggs, the ovaries cease to make estrogen, and she goes through menopause. As menopause is reached estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. This fall in estrogen also leads to both physical and emotional symptoms of menopause.

  • Most women experience menopause when they are 45-55 years of age. The average age for menopause to occur is 51. 

  • In some women, menopause may occur before the age of 40 or 45. This is termed early or premature menopause. There can be many causes for this including cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy-induced menopause, surgical menopause, premature ovarian failure, infection, and certain diseases. 

The 4 Phases of Menopause

Premenopause

AGE: 12-35 YEARS

When does it start?

Starts with your first menstrual cycle and ends with the first signs of menopause.

 

Do you still have periods?

Yes, you will still have your menstrual cycles — whether regular or irregular — and you are considered to be in your reproductive years.

 

Any hormonal changes?

Post puberty, there will be some hormonal changes occurring in the body, but there aren't any noticeable changes in the body.

Perimenopause

AGE: 35-45 YEARS

When does it start?

Different women start perimenopause at different ages. You may notice symptoms such as irregularity in your menstrual cycle, sometime in your 40s. Some women may even notice changes as early as their mid-30s.

How to tell you are in Perimenopause?

The first sign is usually a change in your usual menstrual cycle. Your periods might be irregular or erratic. It might start earlier or later, and you might even miss some months altogether. The periods can heavier than usual.

Do you still have periods?

Yes, you will still have your menstrual cycles — whether regular or irregular — and you are considered to be in your reproductive years.

 

Any hormonal changes?

In this phase, hormone levels fluctuate and there is a decline in estrogen levels. This may lead to irregular menstrual cycles and unpredictable episodes of heavy bleeding.

Menopause

AGE: 46-51 YEARS

When does it start?

A woman is said to have started menopause when she has had no periods in the last 12 months. 

Do you still have periods?

Yes, you will still have your menstrual cycles — whether regular or irregular — and you are considered to be in your reproductive years.

 

Any hormonal changes?

Post puberty, there will be some hormonal changes occurring in the body, but there aren't any no noticeable changes in the body.

Postmenopause

AGE: 51 + YEARS

When does it start?

The day after menopause, starts the postmenopause. Which means if you have had no period for an entire year, the next day onwards is your postmenopause phase.  

How to tell you are in Postmenopause?

No period for an year? Hurray, you are in postmenopause. 

Do the menopause symptoms last?

For most women, the symptoms like hot flashes, may ease a bit. However, for some the symptoms might continue for a decade or longer.

Any health issues?

Due to lower level of estrogen, postmenopausal women are at high risk for a number of health conditions, esp osteoporosis and heart disease. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise to reduce the risk of some of these conditions.