Menopause is a uniquely female biological change that occurs when a woman's fertile period comes to an end. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for one year and typically occurs when a woman reaches her mid-forties to early 50s. The average age is 51. However, the bodily changes and physical symptoms can start several years prior to this event.
The most common symptoms.i include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Interrupted sleep
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Hair on head thinning
- Increase in facial hair
- Mental focus issues and forgetfulness
- Weight gain in abdominal area
- Achy joints and muscle pain
- Periods that are lighter or heavier than normal
- Dry skin
Why does menopause occur?
When a female is born, she is carrying the total number of eggs she will have for the rest of her life stored in her ovaries. From her first period throughout her adult life, a woman releases one or more of these eggs each month. Ovaries also make the hormones progesterone and estrogen, which are what controls a woman's periods and ovulation.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries no longer have eggs to release and the monthly period does not occur after 12 straight months.
What is the difference between peri-menopause and menopause?
Pre-menopausal symptoms and physical changes can begin several years before menopause actually occurs. This is called peri-menopause.
Peri-menopausal symptoms can include a change in the type or duration of the period, including having both shorter or longer periods. During this time, a woman could have some of the typical menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings. Weight gain can also occur around the abdomen, as the drop in the hormone estrogen causes fat to be re-distributed from the hips and thighs to the abdominal area. All menopausal symptoms leading up to menopause could be construed as peri-menopausalii.
How can I treat menopause or peri-menopausal symptoms?
There are many solutions that exist for treating menopausal symptoms, including hormone therapy and non-hormonal prescription drugs. Hormone therapy levels out the estrogen and progesterone within the body, which can help reduce hot flashes. Some natural remedies are also common, like soy and black cohosh, that will raise estrogen levels in the body.
Because of the distinct possibility of increased weight gain in and around the abdomen due to menopause, positive changes in exercise habits to include meditation, yoga, cardio and more are highly suggested. A doctor should be consulted before trying any prescription-oriented therapies or an exercise program.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only regarding what is menopause and does not constitute medical advice.
i. Content produced and distributed by MedlinePlus. 2016. October 21.
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ii. Information provided by Womenshealth.gov, 2017.