What is menopause?
Simply put, menopause is the end of menstrual cycles. It is when a woman can no longer get pregnant because hormones required such as estrogen and progesterone are not being produced by the ovaries anymore.
Unlike the menses which starts on a single day and usually lasts between 4-7 days, menopause takes place at a slower pace, and can take years before the transition is complete. A woman can say she is going through menopause when her periods have stopped for a year or more.
Until a full year has passed without any menstruation, she is still in transition, this is the perimenopausal phase. Menstruations become irregular but don't stop quite yet. However, the woman may still experience some or the same symptoms as a woman in menopause. Women can still get pregnant during perimenopause because they may still ovulate.
What age does a woman experience menopause?
Although menopause is most common around 51 years of age, it ranges anywhere from 42 and 56. If you experience menopause before 40, it is considered to be premature menopause; before 45, it is considered to be early menopause.
Premature or early menopause
There are different reasons for premature menopause, basically anything that damages the ovaries or stops estrogen production can be a culprit.
One cause is premature ovarian failure. This is when the ovaries stop functioning properly and the hormone levels drop.
Premature ovarian failure affects 1 out of 1000 in women aged 15 to 29 and 1 out of 100 women aged 30 to 39. It can result from genetic inherited factors, eating disorders, hormonal disorders, diseases such as autoimmune diseases and thyroid diseases.
Women undergoing treatment for cancer or those that have conditions in which they need to have the female reproductive organs surgically removed may experience premature menopause.
Certain studies have shown that long-term or regular smokers are more likely to experience early menopause. It may start 1-2 years earlier than women that don't smoke.
Body mass Index can also be factored in for early menopause. Since estrogen is stored in fat tissue, women who are very thin are more at risk of early menopause.
Challenges of premature and early menopause
If a woman is trying to conceive but is dealing with premature or early menopause, she may be faced with infertility challenges. This can be difficult emotionally, sometimes leading to depression or emotional distress.
Another challenge is the higher risk for osteoporosis in premature and early menopausal women. Since they will live with decreased estrogen levels for a longer period of time, it puts them at higher risk for low bone density.
Symptoms of menopause
Throughout this cycle of change, women can experience a wide range of surprising symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of menopause can vary from one woman to another, but traditionally the first will most likely be irregular periods.
Here are some other tell tales that you may be entering perimenopause or menopause;
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Dryness of the skin, eyes and vagina
- Night and sleep issues such as insomnia, night sweats
- Fatigue and mood swings
- Short term memory issues
- Digestive issues
Things to help relieve symptoms
The risk of more issues developing during early menopause can be offset or helped with different habits, supplements and remedies.
- Taking calcium (supplement) and / or eating calcium rich foods such as; yoghurt, dark leafy greens, sardines, etc.
- Vitamin D supplement for the maintenance of healthy bones
- Weight-bearing exercises to increase overall body strength and maintain bone density
- Clinically proven herbal remedies:
MenoSupport Complex. Composed of soy extract and hibiscus, it also contains magnesium which is a factor in the maintenance of good health and helps the development and maintenance of bones. Also, the soy extract may reduce the severity and frequency of menopausal symptoms.
MenoForce, made from 100% organic, fresh sage can significantly reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes and sweats as well as promote better sleep and help reduce stress and mood swings.
- A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent a number of menopause symptoms. Fruits and veggies are low in calories and can help you feel full, so they're great for weight loss and weight maintenance.
- Certain foods may trigger hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, more so in the evening or nighttime. These include; caffeine, alcohol and foods that are spicy or high in sugar.
- Eating more foods that contain high levels of phytoestrogens. These are compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Therefore they may help balance hormones and reduce symptoms of menopause. Foods that contain high levels of phytoestrogens are; tofu, soybeans, tempeh, flaxseeds, beans and sesame seeds.
All phases of a woman's life can be beautiful and enjoyable. Hopefully this article has provided insight as to what early menopause is and ways to offset and reduce the associated symptoms.