Menopause is a normal part of life. For most women, this process begins silently somewhere around age 40 when periods may start becoming less regular. Menopause basically symbolizes a time of change, when a women ceases to have her menstrual cycle. Many women are beginning to have it earlier due to environmental changes such as genetically-modified food, which have impact upon hormonal levels.
WHAT CAUSES MENOPAUSE?
Declining levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone cause changes in your periods. Surgical removal of your uterus (hysterectomy) also makes your periods stop and menopausal symptoms may start right away, no matter what your age.
WHY ARE THESE HORMONES REQUIRED IN THE BODY?
Estrogen and progesterone are necessary for normal menstrual cycles and for successful pregnancy. They also help in the development of breast and *** organs. Estrogen also helps to keep bones healthy. It helps women keep good cholesterol levels in their blood.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF MENOPAUSE?
Changing hormonal levels can cause a variety of symptoms that may last from a few months to few years longer:
1. Irregularity in periods: Periods may become less regular or lighter than normal. Others have a heavier flow and may bleed a lot for many days.
2. Hot flushes: A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper part or all of your body lasting between 30 seconds and 5 minutes.
3. Vagina and bladder problems: The genital area can get drier and thinner and make *** intercourse painful. Vaginal infection can become more common.
4. Sex:In many women the sex drive is lowered .
5. Sleep problems:Women may suffer difficulty i sleeping and disturbed sleep.
6. Mood swings: There may be a relationship between changes in estrogen levels and a woman's mood, thus resulting in mood swings. At one time you would be happy and on other, annoyed .
7. Heart and bone diseases: As estrogen is responsible for keeping women's bone healthy, thus a deficiency may lead to osteoporosis. Estrogen is also responsible for keeping cholesterol level under control. During menopause, cholesterol level go up and put women at risk of heart disease.
WHAT IS HORMONE REPLACEMENT?
Your doctor may suggest taking estrogen and progesterone, known as hormone replacement therapy or HRT. It involves taking estrogen and progestin.
WHAT ABOUT PHYTOESTROGENS?
An increasing number of women are adopting alternatives to HRT. Phytoestrogens are estrogens-like substances derived from plants, and are structurally similar to estrogens. They are found in cereals, vegetables, legumes (beans), and some herbs. Soy, wild yams and herbs such as black cohosh, asparagus racemosus and dong quai, contain phytoestrogens and may relieve some symptoms of menopause.
Women in some countries such as japan, appear to experience fewer symptoms of menopause than women in western countries because their diet contains more phytoestrogens. phytoestrogens also offer long term benefits such as lowering risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Along with phytoestrogens, calcium and magnesium supplements are also recommended.
However, special precaution are to be taken if you have been operated for breast cancer and is on chemotherapy.
HERBS RICH IN PHYTOESTROGENS:
1. Ashoka(Saraca indica) and Shatavari(Asparagus racemosus): Both the herbs provide rich source of plant estrgens, which helps regulate the hormonal imbalance and thus helps in relieving symptoms of menopause
2. Yashtimadhu(Glycrrhiza glabra): It is a natural source of estrogen with antioxidant, analgesic property to relieve frequent urination and prevent vaginal dryness
3. Bala(Sida cordifolia):It also possesses analgesic property and thus relieving from frequent urination
4. Mandukaparni(Centella asiatica): It is helpful in calming the mind and reducing symptom of anxiety during menopause
STAYING HEALTHY EVEN DURING MENOPAUSE
To stay healthy you can make some lifestyle changes:
- Don't smoke
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and cholestrol, high in fibre and include fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods
- Lose weight, if you are over-weight- Take part in weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, running or dancing, at least thrice a week- If you frequently feel an urgent need to urinate, ask your doctor about technique such as pelvic exercises, biofeedback and bladder training that can help you improve muscle control- Get regular pelvic and breast exams, pap tests, and mammograms.
Eventually it is always you who can help yourself, your will power and positive attitude to keep you remain healthy during this phase of your life.