Understanding a Woman’s Body: Menopause Treatment and Care A woman’s body undergoes numerous changes as it ages.
Women who are past the child-bearing age may find the menopausal stage too much to bear. However, the burden that comes with this transition can be lifted with proper knowledge about menopause treatment and care. Read more to find out about what menopause is and the treatments available for this condition.
Menopause: Definition, causes, and symptoms
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life that puts the final period on every monthly period. This occurs when a woman goes without experiencing a menstrual cycle in 12 months. Menopause is a change that happens naturally in a woman’s body. Women may undergo this change when they are past the age of 40 or 50.
Menopause is caused by different factors that affect the body, such as:
- Cancer therapies like Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Decrease in the natural production of reproductive hormones
- Removal of the ovaries through surgery
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can affect the body’s reproductive system by inducing menopause. Menstruation and fertility may be put on a pause by strong medications used in chemotherapy, but this is usually temporary. The function of the reproductive system can be affected directly only when the procedure targets the ovaries.
Menopause comes naturally when the body ages and hormones that control the menstrual period are being produced by the ovaries in little quantities. This gradually happens during the age of 30 to 40 years old. Women who are in this time of their lives will experience changes in the duration and flow of their menstruation. By the time they reach their 50s, their menstrual cycles come to an end. There may be instances when symptoms relating to menopause occur prior to the age of 40. This is called premature menopause. This condition is not normal and may be caused by an autoimmune disease or genes.
Ovaries that are removed through surgery, otherwise known as Oophorectomy, will lead to menopause completely as your ovaries are no longer present to produce estrogen and progesterone, which are the hormones that are responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle.
Symptoms experienced by women may be different. These include:
- Challenges with sleeping
- Changes in the fullness of the breasts
- Changes with mood
- Dry skin
- Dryness in the vagina
- Gaining of weight
- Hair thinning
- Hot flashes
- Problems with sleeping
- Sweating at night
The most common symptom among women is missing out on their menstrual period in some months. They may also notice that their menstrual periods have become shorter in duration. Note that women can still get pregnant even though they have missed a period.
One can tell that a woman is undergoing the stages of menopause by the symptoms alone. For those who experience menopause symptoms prior to the age of 40, it is best to consult with your doctor for proper guidance as there are some health conditions that also have symptoms akin to menopausal symptoms.
Menopause treatment and care
The symptoms brought about by the menopausal transition in a woman’s body are not permanent. Most of the treatments can be done at home and by making changes to lifestyle. Here are some techniques to practice:
- Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet. Your body will need all the nutrition it can get as it undergoes a rollercoaster of changes during your menopause transition. Load up your meal plan with fruits and vegetables. Skip food and beverages that are high in sugars and saturated fats or oils.
- Escape hot flashes by identifying factors that can trigger the body to feel hot. This can range from food and beverages consumed, which are hot and spicy, to temperatures affecting a place one is in or even stress.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Getting sufficient sleep during this time is crucial. To do this, make adjustments to your sleeping habits and try to avoid factors that can disturb your sleep routine. If you have a habit of drinking alcohol or caffeine, this should be avoided.
- Relaxation techniques can help address mood changes. Practice deep breathing and meditation to calm the mind and relax the muscles.
In addition to these, further treatments like Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Phytoestrogen medications can be considered.
Certain complications may arise after menopause. These are some examples:
- Cardiovascular diseases – The risk of developing cardiovascular diseases increases when the estrogen levels in the body drops.
- Osteoporosis – A woman’s bone density declines during the initial years that follow menopause. Given this reason, the risk of injuring the hips, spine, and wrists are high.
- Sexual dysfunction – Sexual activity may be affected as this can cause discomfort due to vaginal dryness.
- Urinary incontinence – Menopause causes the urethra and vaginal tissues to lose elasticity causing urinary incontinence.
- Weight gain – Gaining weight quickly after menopause is common as the body’s metabolism becomes slower.
If any of these complications are affecting your quality of life, it is highly recommended that you consult with your gynaecologist to seek treatment.
Consulting with a gynaecologist
Gynaecologists are doctors specialising in women’s reproductive health. If you need guidance and treatment during your menopause transition, they are the best doctors that can provide the services that you need.
During your initial consultation, you can expect your doctor to ask questions relating to your medical history. You will also be asked about the symptoms that you are experiencing. It would be helpful if you come to your appointment prepared with details, such as:
- A list of all medications you are taking, including herbal and vitamin supplements
- Family medical history for women who may experience perimenopause
- The symptoms you experience, including their frequency and severity
It is also important that you are able to communicate your worries and concerns to your gynaecologist. List down questions that you would like to ask and also note down your doctor’s recommendations regarding your condition.
Dr Ng Kai Lyn – Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
Mount Elizabeth Novena: 38 Irrawady Road 05-34/35
Hougang: 684 Hougang Ave 8 01-198
+65 60 1115 31