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Sign and Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause – meno + Pause; or a pause to the normal menstrual cycling of a female; but exactly saying it is not a pause it is complete cessation of menstruation. It is a normal part of the female physiology. Menopause is an unavoidable change that every woman will experience, assuming she reaches middle age and beyond. It is helpful if women are able to learn what to expect and what options are available to assist the transition, if that becomes necessary. Menopause has a wide starting range, but can usually be expected in the age range of 42–58. An early menopause can be related to cigarette smoking, higher body mass index, racial and ethnic factors, illnesses, chemotherapy, radiation and the surgical removal of the uterus and/or both ovaries.
The transition from reproductive to non-reproductive is the result of a major reduction in female hormonal production by the ovaries. This transition is normally not sudden or abrupt, tends to occur over a period of years, and is a natural consequence of aging. However, for some women, the accompanying signs and effects that can occur during the menopause transition years can significantly disrupt their daily activities and their sense of well-being. In addition, women who have some sort of functional disorder affecting the reproductive system (i.e. endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, cancer of the reproductive organs) can go into menopause at an younger age than the normal timeframe; the functional disorders often significantly speed up the menopausal process and create more significant health problems, both physical and emotional, for the affected woman.
The symptoms of menopause are caused by changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. The ovaries make less of these hormones over time. The specific symptoms and how significant (mild, moderate, or severe) they are varies from woman to woman.
A gradual decrease of estrogen generally allows your body to slowly adjust to the hormonal changes. Hot flashes and sweats are at their worst for the first 1 - 2 years after the last period. Menopause symptoms may last 5 or more years.
Estrogen levels may drop suddenly after some medical treatments, as is seen when the ovaries are removed surgically (called surgical menopause). Chemotherapy and anti-estrogen treatment for breast cancer are other examples. Symptoms can be more severe and start more suddenly in these circumstances.
As a result of the fall in hormone levels, changes occur in the entire female reproductive system. The vaginal walls become less elastic and thinner. The vagina becomes shorter. Lubricating secretions from the vagina become watery. The outside genital tissue thins. This is called atrophy of the labia.
Ayurvedic View –
Ayurveda links menopause with aging. Aging is a 'Vata' predominant stage of life. Thus, the symptoms of menopause experienced by some women are similar to the symptoms seen when the Vata Dosha rises and upsets the normal balance of the body. Vata-type menopausal symptoms tend to include depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Menopause may also manifest itself as a rise in the other two humors also. Women with Pitta-type symptoms are often angry and suffer hot flashes. Kapha type symptoms include listlessness, weight gain, and feelings of mental and physical heaviness.
Ayurveda, the science of life, advocates a holistic treatment of menopausal syndrome by utilizing various herbs and minerals and offers a reliable option to the conventional treatment.
The time period of menopause is accompanied by the transition of the dominant Doshas. During this time period the dominancy changes from the Pitta Dosha to the Vata Dosha.
In some women, menstrual flow comes to a sudden halt. More commonly, it slowly stops over time. During this time, the menstrual periods generally become either more closely or more widely spaced. This irregularity may last for 1 - 3 years before menstruation finally ends completely. Before this the cycle length may shorten to as little as every 3 weeks.
Common symptoms of menopause include:
- Heart pounding or racing
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Skin flushing
- Sleeping problems (insomnia)
Other symptoms of menopause may include:
- Decreased interest in sex, possibly decreased response to sexual stimulation
- Forgetfulness (in some women)
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Mood swings including irritability, depression, and anxiety
- Urine leakage
- Vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
- Vaginal infections
- Joint aches and pains
- Irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
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