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Menopause is an essential and unavoidable period in women. It is explained as the period when monthly flow of blood, ovulation and the chance to become pregnant stops. Every woman has both starting and end points of monthly blood flow. This period varies in women but all women will one day reach this critical moment. “Peri menopause” and “post menopause” are the two concepts used in menopause. The perimenopausal period is the time around menopause or the gradual transistion period of a woman into menopause. It is the period close to or during menopause. On the other hand, the postmenopause stage depicts the period after menopause.
Menopause starts with irregular monthly period and ends with the full stoppage of menses for twelve months, which is known as the perimenopause period. A woman cannot be said to have entered a full menopause stage until she stop seeing her monthly blood flow for a complete year. After this stage, she is seen to have entered the postmenopause period. The common signs include;
- Irregular Menstrual Period:this is the first sign that a woman is close to or in her menopause. The irregularities include the skipping of the menstrual period, irregularities of menstrual cycle, low or high blood flow rate and sometimes a long gap in menses.
- Redness of the Face:one of the common symptoms of menopause is the redness of the face and the upper part of the body. This is known as “hot flashes”. This is caused by the reduction of the secretion of the female hormone (oestrogen) as menopause approaches.
- Increase of Sweat at Night:night or bed-time sweat is common among women in their menopause period. There is an increase in body sweats which leads to the disruption of sleep. This sweat disorder is known as “sleep hyperhidrosis”. Women should note that sweats at night might not always be a symptom of menopause. It might also be due to some medical conditions or environmental factors (read more about the effect of environment on healthhere) such as poor ventilation.
- Sleep Disorder:women in their menopausal period find it difficult to sleep at night. They find it difficult to get sleep, wake up frequently in the middle of the night as a result of the severe perspiration (sweat). Women start experiencing insomnia, i.e. lack of sleep (read more about the importance of sleep here) when they are few years into this period till when there is full stoppage of menses.
- Dryness of The Vagina:women that are in this period experience the dryness of the vagina. The moist and soft nature of the vagina and its area disappears. Thus, leading to itching, irritation and dryness. This is as a result of the reduction or drop in the secretion of oestrogen, which is accompanied with dry, thin and non-elastic of the vaginal tissue.
- Reduction In Sexual Desires:the dryness of the vagina reduces the lubrication needed for easy penetration. This then lead to sex discomfort, pain during sexual intercourse and finally to low sex libido (lack of sexual desire). The low sex drive and dryness of the vagina are the two emotional effects of menopause. They can also be treated with prescription.
- Tiredness, Fatigue and Dizziness: frequent feeling of being tired is common among women in this period. This is due to the drop in the level of oestrogen that regulate the use of energy. Women with low oestrogen level are weak, lack strength and energy for their daily activities. Some due to this energy loss lose concentration and may be unable to cope with stressful activities. Women in their menopause also experience dizziness. They feel light-headed, spinning heads and are unable to stand for a long period of time. Fatigue and the feeling of being dizzy can lead to fall, thus, leading to injury.
- Lack of Concentration, Forgetfulness and Memory Lapses: frequent fatigue, tiredness and lack of sleep result to lack of concentration and disorientation. These women also find it difficult to remember things as they are faced with temporary memory blocks. Menopause comes with emotional stress which may have impact on their memory. They forget important things such as birthdays or where things are kept. Memory loss, forgetfulness and lack of concentration are normal symptoms associated with menopause that should seek medical attention.
- Different Body Changes:Many physical changes accompany menopausal period. these are
– Hair loss:the loss of hair or the reduction in hair stamina is a sign of menopause and aging. The hair on the head, armpit and pubic area reduces with menopause. The formation of hair follicles reduces as Oestrogen reduces.
– Weight gain: the increase of body fat and weight come naturally with menopause. The fat in the body are redistributed and are more concentrated around the waist region. Women in their mid-40s and early 50s are advised to reduce their intake of foods with high calories so as to avoid increase in body weight.
– Bloating (swollen stomach): women in menopausal period experience swollen stomach. They are faced with difficulties in food digestion, stomach ache, and tightness in the stomach region. These are caused by the low levels of bile that result from low level of oestrogen. Bloating results from poor food transportation.
– Changes in Body Odour: increase or change in body odour is due to increase in body sweats and hot flashes. Those with good personal hygiene (read on how to have a good hygiene here) are also prone to body odour. Adequate care of the body is necessary and essential at this stage of life in women.
– Fragile or Brittle Nails: changes in the appearance of fingers or toes nails are natural occurrence in menopause. Women at this stage tend to have soft nails, nails that break and crack often. Infection of the nail and cuticle are other nails problems encountered by old women.
- Psychological Changes: emotional and psychological disorders that are associated with menopause include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, worry, panic disorder, nervousness (read on how to be free from depression here)
- Headaches, Joint Pains and Breast pains: pains in some body parts such as the head, joints and breasts are common in this period. Women generally experience headaches when they are close to or in their ovulation periods (read more about ovulation period here). These frequent headaches are known as ‘menstrual migraines’. Women may experience more or worse of these migraines in their menopausal period. More than half of women experience joint pains in menopause. Pains or soreness in the muscles and joints are due to the reduction in hair production of oestrogen. Breast discomfort, pain, tenderness are common signs of menstruation (read more about menstruation here), pregnancy and also in menopause.
- Gum problems and burning tongues:the burning of the tongue, lips and mouths are common among women in this stage. These may result to bad breath, mouth odour or bitter taste in the mouth (read more about body odour and its solutions here). Soreness in the gum, loss of tooth/teeth, gingivitis, gum infection, bleeding of the gum and other oral infections are common menopausal signs.
In summary, menopause starts with irregular monthly flow of blood (read about menstrual disorder here). Medical attention should be sought to combat these physical and emotional changes in the body. Women in menopause should have good personal and oral hygiene. Fishes (read about the importance of fish consumption here) and foods with low calories should be consumed. Women experiencing one or more of these signs should be sure of the medical cause before reaching a conclusion that they are in their menopausal period which might be not. Women are advised to discuss (read about the role of communication in a relationship here) this stage with their husbands and people around them.
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