What is menopause, commonly known as “the change”? Not a change, or just any old change, but “THE change”. Most often when menopause is discussed, it is women sharing stories about the physical symptoms they are experiencing:…
What is menopause, commonly known as “the change”? Not a change, or just any old change, but “THE change”. Most often when menopause is discussed, it is women sharing stories about the physical symptoms they are experiencing:
“Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. First I’m hot, sweating and throwing off the covers. Then, I’m cold and shivering”
“Sometimes I feel as though my face is absolutely on fire!”
“At first I thought that monthly stuff was all over. Then, I looked up and it had started all over again.”
A time of change…
Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstrual periods. It is brought about when the ovaries become exhausted of eggs and no longer produce estrogen. This is generally because nature intended ovaries to produce eggs and consequently manufacture estrogen for a limited period of time. While it is a normal and natural event in every woman's life, it is an individualized experience. For women who have had their womb removed but not their ovaries, at a time when they were still menstruating regularly, the hysterectomy will have brought about a cessation of menstruation, but not menopause.
According to the National Institute of Health and Pharmacia Corporation, the potential effects that may be experienced on becoming menopausal are many and varied. They can range from affecting an individual minimally, to being very disruptive to a woman’s life.
·Hot flashes: Hot flashes are due to falling estrogen levels, your glands release higher amounts of other hormones that affect the brain's thermostat, causing body temperatures to fluctuate.
·Night sweats Night sweats are hot flashes that occur during sleep, with sweating that sometimes soaks clothing and sheets.
·Sleep disturbances: Sleep disturbances may be related to hot flashes and night sweats. There is some evidence that hormonal changes may also play a direct role in sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances during perimenopause and menopause can sometimes be mistaken for emotional depression.
·Menstrual irregularities: Menstrual irregularities usually occur in the years before menopause. Your cycles may become longer or shorter, and menstrual flow may become heavier or lighter. Over time, cycles become farther and farther apart, until menstruation finally ceases. You may stop menstruating without any irregularities before that time, but for most women the end of menstruation is a gradual process.
·Vaginal changes: Vaginal changes, including vaginal dryness, are common. You may take longer to become lubricated and sexually aroused. Some women may begin to experience signs of vaginal dryness even before menopause. Vaginal atrophy, a more serious condition, is found almost exclusively in postmenopausal women. This condition is associated with a worsening or breakdown of tissues lining the vagina and other genital tissues. In addition to vaginal dryness, symptoms of vaginal atrophy include burning, itching, soreness and frequent vaginal inflammation. In time, intercourse may become uncomfortable or even painful.
·Sex drive changes: Sex drive changes are often noticed in midlife. You might feel an increase in the desire for sex at this time, especially after menopause. You may enjoy the fact that you don't have to worry about pregnancy anymore. You may have more privacy and energy as well, especially if your children are older. If you are one of those women who feel less interested in sex during these years, there could be a number of different causes. Vaginal dryness or infections, common complaints of women in midlife, can make sex uncomfortable or even painful. Urinary tract infections or stress incontinence may also affect your desire for sex.
·Urinary changes: Tissues in the urinary tract also change with age, sometimes leaving women more susceptible to involuntary loss of urin