The absence of a menstrual period for at least one year is an indicator that a woman is transitioning from a reproductive to a non-reproductive phase in life. This indicates she has entered menopause. For most women, menopause starts around 51.
The transition from one phase to another doesn’t happen overnight. It’s rather gradual and is a different experience for each woman. In fact, the first sign of menopause can begin 10 years before a woman is officially in this phase of her life. Many women think that menopause can make their life easier as they don’t have to deal with menstrual cycles or shop for hygienic products, and they can plan their days without worrying much.
There are some of the problems that no one ever tells you about menopause:
Putting on more pounds is common after menopause. But it is important to note that menopause-related weight gain does not happen all of a sudden. This type of weight gain occurs gradually. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, during menopause, women gain an average of five pounds. Some women may even gain as much as 15 to 25 pounds.
Weight gain during menopause is not a good sign, as it poses potential serious consequences to your health. It increases your risk for breast cancer, depression, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet can help you prevent weight gain.
During menopause, there is a significant drop in progesterone and estrogen levels that causes nighttime hot flashes and disturbed sleep.
There are three major ways in which menopause affects sleep: The first is the concept of a menopausal mood disorder and the development of menopause-related insomnia. The second is an increase in the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing. The third is an increase in the development of fibromyalgia.
A nice hot bath of 20 to 30 minutes before hitting the bed can help you deal with hormone-related sleep problems. It is also important to follow a consistent sleep-wake schedule.
Frequent Mood Swings
The fluctuating hormones that accompany menopause can lead to changes in brain chemistry, which in turn can induce depression.
Frequent mood swings and depression can be debilitating. Depression does not appear for the first time after menopause. However, women become somewhat more vulnerable to depression during the perimenopause period.
Deep breathing, meditation, a healthy diet, proper sleep and support from family can help you deal with the problem to a great extent.
Bone loss and osteoporosis are common in women over the age of 50.
In fact, after the age of 35, there is a gradual loss of bone mass in the body which may contribute to osteoporosis, causing your bones to become fragile and more likely to break.
The hormone estrogen helps keep the bones strong. Due to menopause, the ovaries stop producing this hormone, even during perimenopause, which occurs 2 to 8 years before menopause. This in turn affects your bone health and you start losing bone more rapidly.
Hot Flashes Continue for Years
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Though flash means fast, they do not stop quickly. In fact, they can last for years.
Also called vasomotor symptoms, hot flashes may begin during perimenopause, the period around the onset of menopause. In some women, they may not start until after the last menstrual period occurred. Episodes of hot flashes are lengthy and nuanced events that come in stages.
The sudden rise and drop in body temperature can take a toll on one’s daily life. It can lead to heart palpitations and feelings of anxiety, tension or a sense of dread. As hot flashes can occur during sleep, it may disrupt sleep, causing fatigue and mood changes.
To manage hot flashes, avoid possible triggers like hot beverages, spicy food, warm air temperatures, stressful situations, alcohol, caffeine and some medications. Also, dress sensibly and always keeps a change of night clothes handy.