What is Menopause?
MENOPAUSE. The very word may strike fear and trembling in the hearts of many women approaching fifty – roughly the age of the start of menopause.
I think in the early stages we maybe just try to ignore it and maybe even deny it in our own minds. As its not simply a word…. and in all honesty, takes some getting used to.
For many, the hormonal changes as the body shuts down fertility bring with them their own set of problems and tortures ranging from a drop in libido to hot flushes, sweating, sleeplessness, anxiety, headaches, and even depression. Yes, for some the big D word (D for depression) can go right alongside the big M word, as if we weren’t dealing with enough already.
That’s aside from the brain fog so thick the ability to concentrate or even add some reason or sensibility to a perfectly normal conversation (pre-menopause) is practically a mission impossible!
Now, we’re not certain that the idea of Menopause is stigmatised or taboo but we’re fairly confident that many women try to put a brave face on it as they aim to master this next phase in life in the way they have mastered the other passages through womanhood.
What does it mean?
As we all face it, it’s still surprising at times how little is spoken about this stage of life that is often ignored and hidden away despite it being something that all women face. Just like all women will experience some form of hormone imbalance in their lives, all women will experience Menopause at some point in their lives.
Pinpointing when you will begin menopause is as impossible as when you were wondering when your first period might appear. Also, a woman’s body generally goes through the physiological transition years before menopause makes itself known. You suspect that menopause is coming because you may have noticed some changes in your cycle such as: length of cycle, flow, frequency and consistency. You may not even realise menopause is coming until it arrives in a wash of sweat and heat. All women are different and no one person will experience menopause the same.
There are generally 3 stages to Menopause, they include:
Perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time during which your body makes
the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years. Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition. Perimenopause signals the hormone changes that your body goes through while working its way to menopause. Women start perimenopause at different ages. You may notice signs of progression toward menopause, such as menstrual irregularity, sometime in your 40s. But some women notice changes as early as their mid-30s. The level of oestrogen — the main female hormone — in your body rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause. Your menstrual cycles may lengthen or shorten and change whereby they are heavy or light.
The length of perimenopause is different for each woman because again, we’re all physiologically different to one another.
The same factors that can affect your menstrual cycle can affect your perimenopause length – ethnicity, genetics, your health, diet and level of physical activity.
For some women perimenopause may not even register (or even make sense) but it’s real. It may feel like puberty all over again – you’re moody, feeling anxious, upset at random things, you may even feel completely ill at ease with your body. This is actually pretty normal. And you may not even notice you are acting differently with others.
Menopause signals the permanent end to your menstrual cycle or amenorrhoea and you are deemed menopausal when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. Interesting fact: It’s important to note and keep a record of when your last period is just for medical history information.
There are 3 main variations of Menopause – natural, surgical and medical menopause, with an additional premature menopause although this is uncommon.
Natural menopause occurs as a healthy, normal and natural process from young women, to women in their prime to the mature years and followed by post-menopause. Natural menopause can generally start anywhere from 45 – 50 years of age, although the average is 52 years of age.
Surgical menopause involves the removal of the ovaries or a complete hysterectomy, bi-lateral hysterectomy (both the ovaries and uterus are removed) or total removal of the ovaries. This procedure will immediately push a woman into menopause. Surgeries like this can occur when women have Oestrogen respondent issues, like breast, ovarian or uterine cancers or debilitating chronic illnesses like endometriosis. When Menopause is entered in this way its yet another thing to deal with on top of any surgical procedure which can be really difficult for both our mental and physiological health and wellbeing so, if you’ve got a loved one going through this, don’t forget to reach out.
Medical menopause can occur after treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy or radiation (or both) Some medications used in treatment can also cause menopausal symptoms which can lead to menopause.
Premature menopause may occur before age 40 and the cause is usually unknown however certain factors such as smoking, living at high altitudes, poor diet leading to poor nutritional status. Another factor may be ovarian failures due to genetics or unknown reasons.
Postmenopause is defined as the time after the menopause transition has been completed. Medically speaking, Postmenopause usually occurs after 12 months of no menstrual cycle – no spotting or spontaneous periods. Technically this is where menopause ends, and a woman is considered postmenopausal from this time on. For many women the end of menopause means an end to the sometimes-difficult symptoms of menopause which can take many years so the 12 months may be a tad short. As we all know, our bodies are different and what is deemed “medically appropriate” for some is different for others. Anecdotally speaking, menopause can last years, well into the period where you’re considered “postmenopausal”.
However, postmenopause can still cause some issues with ongoing symptoms such as hot flushes, anxiousness and irritability along with other issues such as:
Vaginal dryness and itching
Urinary tract infections
As women age and experience menopause, there can be an effect on woman’s cardiovascular system and skeletal system due to a drop in oestrogen levels.
Blood pressure concerns can occur post menopause. According to the Mayo Clinic, some doctors believe that increases in blood pressure are related to shifting hormones related to menopause. Your body also becomes more sensitive to salt so you may retain water which can put pressure on blood vessels, and this includes your blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping stress to a minimum can help reduce the risks of high blood pressure occurring naturally. Regular check-ups are also important.
Another lesser-known issue associated with menopause and postmenopause, is bone density changes which can lead to a condition called Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the density and quality of your bones is reduced. This reduction can make your bones, weak, brittle and more prone to fractures or breaks. It’s estimated that one in three women will suffer a fracture due to Osteoporosis.
How does Menopause impact Osteoporisis?
When you’re born, your bones are soft, but they harden as calcium and protein build up in your body. Bone formation occurs rapidly as a baby, slowing down as you age, and massive bone formation occurs in the teen years so by the time you reach adulthood, your bones are fully formed. Bone density peaks at around 30 – 35, then begins to decrease.
There’s no specific cause of Osteoporosis but there can be circumstances that can impact your body, such as:
Family history of Osteoporosis
Low dietary intake of calcium
Low levels of Vitamin D
Age (over 50)
And other unhealthy lifestyle choices (eg smoking)
As with many health concerns, the best course of action is prevention rather than treatment. Especially with health issues that can have such a massive effect on your bodies.
How could NuWoman Menopause + Bone work for you?
Menopause and its associated issues can be a difficult transition, but it can be eased.
NuWoman® Menopause + Bone is a scientifically formulated natural dietary supplement designed to support women’s transition through menopause while maintaining bone health.
In a convenient one-a-day capsule NuWoman® Menopause + Bone is a comprehensive, natural formula of ingredients to support temperature control eg hot flushes and night sweats, sleep, libido, mental clarity, mood and energy which can be problematic during menopause.
As mentioned above women’s bone health requires extra support and NuWoman® Menopause + Bone contains a combination of vitamins and minerals to ensure more advanced absorption of Calcium for bone health along with a high strength dose of Cimi-Max® (Cimicifuga racemosa). This combination of NuWoman Menopause + Bone is here to support you through Menopause and beyond.To learn more about NuWoman Menopause + Bone, click here