Menopause: the very normal part of aging for women that has hundreds of years of stigma surrounding it. Did you know that only two mammals on earth can continue to live after their reproductive stage has come to an end? Humans and a couple types of whales...how COOL. Anyways, menopause is a huge life change, one that is a normal part of life, but difficult for a lot of women. We're here to tell you what happens when a woman stops having a menstrual cycle and how to alleviate some of the symptoms of Menopause.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as the end of having a menstrual cycle. It is diagnosed after having gone a full year without a period, and can happen in your 40s-50s, average menopause age being 51. (1) The stopping of the menstrual cycle is a normal, natural, biological process that can have uncomfortable physical and psychological effects. The process is usually defined in 3 stages:
Perimenopause or "menopause transition": Can begin 8-10 years before Menopause, during which the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. The last two years of preminopause are when most women start having symptoms of menopause due to the sharp decrease in estrogen. This stage is over when your ovaries stop producing eggs. You will likely have very irregular periods during this time and can still get pregnant.
Menopause: At this point, your ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. Menopause is diagnosed when you've gone a full year without a period. There are solutions to helping decrease symptom severity, including hormone therapy replacement and lifestyle changes.
Postmenopause: Is the name given to the time after going through menopause that continues for the rest of your life. During this stage, menopausal symptoms tend to subside, but may continue for an average of 4-5 years and lessen in frequency. Some women experience symptoms for a decade or longer after menopause transition. Be sure to get plenty of exercise, calcium, vitamin D and practice preventative healthcare to stay healthy after menopause.
This is a great visual of estrogen levels as a woman ages, taken from @kulkufusa on Instagram.
Symptoms of Menopause
A study done by Vodafone across 5 countries found that 60% of women going through menopause said that their symptoms impacted their work. Over a third (36%) of the women in the study said they had to take off work because of their symptoms. 11% forwent a promotion opportunity, and 8% resigned from their positions due to menopause. (2) We bring these statistics to light in order to provide real awareness to what women going through menopause are experiencing. The juristic change in hormones throws a woman's The symptoms of menopause are vast, here are a few:
night sweats and/or cold flashes
vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
irregular periods or skipping periods
periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
joint and muscle aches and pains
changes in libido (sex drive)
difficulty concentrating, memory lapses (often temporary)
hair loss or thinning
increase in facial hair
Menopause requires no medical treatment. Instead, treatments focus on relieving your signs and symptoms and preventing or managing chronic conditions that may occur with aging. (3) Treatments may include:
Hormone therapy. Estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment option for relieving menopausal hot flashes and helps prevent bone loss. Starting hormones around the time of menopause has shown benefits for some women, but talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy and whether it's a safe choice for you. (3) The Lotus provides Hormone Therapy Replacement through pellets. If you'd like more information schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking the button below!
Vaginal estrogen. To relieve vaginal dryness, estrogen can be administered directly to the vagina using a vaginal cream, tablet or ring. This treatment releases just a small amount of estrogen, which is absorbed by the vaginal tissues. It can help relieve vaginal dryness, discomfort with intercourse and some urinary symptoms. (3)
Low-dose antidepressants. Certain antidepressants related to the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may decrease menopausal hot flashes. A low-dose antidepressant for management of hot flashes may be useful for women who can't take estrogen for health reasons or for women who need an antidepressant for a mood disorder. (3)
Gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin). Gabapentin is approved to treat seizures, but it has also been shown to help reduce hot flashes. This drug is useful in women who can't use estrogen therapy and in those who also have nighttime hot flashes. (3)
Clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay). Clonidine, a pill or patch typically used to treat high blood pressure, might provide some relief from hot flashes. (3)
Medications to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Depending on individual needs, doctors may recommend medication to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Several medications are available that help reduce bone loss and risk of fractures. Your doctor might prescribe vitamin D supplements to help strengthen bones. (3)
Before deciding on any form of treatment, talk with your doctor about your options and the risks and benefits involved with each. Review your options yearly, as your needs and treatment options may change. (3)
The Stigma Around Menopause
Ultimately this comes down to the fear of aging, obviously most people don't care to get old. Menopause is commonly looked at as a loss, a struggle. Women may mourn the passing of their past selves, their "youthful" selves. However, it is also seen as a marker of moving on to the next stage of life, a time of new beginnings. For these women, menopause is a “rite of passage” involving both social and psychic transformation whereby a sense of self emerges anew from loss, grief and shame. Your perception may just be your reality. (4)
If you're struggling with menopause symptoms, schedule a complimentary consultation with our amazing team to see what we can do for you. The Lotus takes pride in our detail and consistency in providing you with thorough and personalized strategies tailored to your schedule, budget, and aesthetic needs.
(1) Menopause - Symptoms and causes. (2020, October 14). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
(2) Vodafone. (2021, October). Menopause Research (er OC331181). OPINIUM RESEARCH. https://www.vodafone.com/sites/default/files/2021-10/menopause-global-research-report-2021.pdf
(3) Menopause - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic. (2020, October 14). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353401
(4) de Salis, I. (2017, October 18). The menopause: dreaded, derided and seldom discussed. The Conversation. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://theconversation.com/the-menopause-dreaded-derided-and-seldom-discussed-85281
Menopause: Age, Stages, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment. (2021, October 5). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21841-menopause
Rabin, J. (n.d.). Women have been shamed and stigmatized over menopause for years. Katz Institute for Women’s Health. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://www.northwell.edu/katz-institute-for-womens-health/articles/women-stigmatized-over-menopause