Symptoms of menopause
Most women think of menopause as the time of life when their menstrual periods end. This usually occurs during middle age, when women are also experiencing other hormonal and physical changes. For this reason, menopause is sometimes called the "change of life".
Perimenopause, also known as the climacteric, includes the time before menopause when hormonal and biological changes and physical symptoms begin to occur. This period lasts for an average of three to five years.
Some women don't have any symptoms during menopause or only have a few symptoms. Others develop disturbing and even severe, disabling symptoms. Studies of women around the world suggest that differences in lifestyle, diet and activity may play a role in the severity and type of symptoms women have during menopause. Symptoms can be noticed for several months to years before the last menstrual period and can continue for several years after.
A hot flash is a feeling described as suddenly being hot, flushed and uncomfortable, especially in the face and neck. Hot flashes come in bursts or flushes that usually last a few seconds to a few minutes. They are caused by changes in the way blood vessels relax and contract and are thought to be related to the changes in a woman's estrogen levels.
A woman can have irregular periods for several months to years before her periods finally stop. Any vaginal bleeding that develops after a year of no periods is abnormal and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Some women report irritability or other mood changes. Irritability is commonly caused by poor sleep resulting from nighttime hot flashes. A number of women, however, do not feel irritable.
As estrogen levels drop and remain low during menopause, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases. The risk is greatest for slender, white or light-skinned women. You can help prevent osteoporosis by getting enough vitamin D through sunlight or a daily multivitamin, eating a diet rich in calcium and performing regular exercise. Women should start taking these actions well before menopause begins. This is because women begin to lose bone mass as early as age 30 but fractures resulting from osteoporosis don't occur until 10 to 15 years after menopause.
Before menopause, women have lower rates of heart attack and stroke than men. After menopause, however, the rate of heart disease in women continues to rise and equals that of men after age 65.
Perimenopause usually lasts three to five years but it can take as few as two years or as many as eight years for some women. The changes in the body that occur during menopause last for the rest of a woman's life. However hot flashes usually improve over time, becoming less frequent and less severe
Menopause is a natural event and cannot be prevented. Medications, diet and exercise can prevent or eliminate some symptoms of menopause and enhance a woman's quality of life as she grows older.
A number of medications are used to treat the symptoms of menopause. The type of medication needed is a complicated decision and each woman should discuss the issue with her doctor. The treatment will depend on what symptoms are most bothersome and how bothersome they are.
Estrogen taken as a pill or applied to the skin as a patch can reduce hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood changes and vaginal dryness. Estrogen can be prescribed alone when a woman no longer has her uterus. A combination of estrogen and progesterone is used when a woman still has her uterus. Progesterone is necessary to balance estrogen's effect on the uterus and prevent changes that can lead to uterine cancer.
The Gabapentin (Neurontin) moderately effective in treating hot flashes. Gabapentin's main side effect is drowsiness. Taking it at bedtime may help improve sleep while decreasing hot flashes.
All postmenopausal women who have osteoporosis or are at risk of osteoporosis should take calcium and vitamin D supplements. The usual recommended supplemental dose is 1,000 milligrams of calcium carbonate (taken with meals) or calcium citrate daily. It is best to take this as 500 milligrams twice a day. Women also need 800 international units of vitamin D daily.
Calcitonin - hormone produced by the thyroid gland and helps the body keep and use calcium. A nasal spray form of this drug is used to help prevent bone loss in women at risk. Doctors may prescribe calcitonin to help relieve pain from fractures due to osteoporosis.
Diet changes can affect premenstrual syndrome
Menstrual cycling in women results from a complex interplay of reproductive hormones that surge and ebb at various points during the course of an approximately lunar month (28 days).
Research shows that diet and nutrition play a significant role in the severity of PMS symptoms, and many women could ease their monthly bouts with discomfort simply by changing their diets or taking nutritional supplements.
Western society has made light of premenstrual syndrome on many occasions, with popular entertainers cracking jokes about women's wild mood swings at "that time of the month." But the truth is, PMS can be a difficult, sometimes serious, problem for women.
While some women may experience these symptoms intermittently, about one in 10 experience them every month, according to Eades. For about one in 20 women, PMS can become so severe that it causes general depression in daily life, according to New Choices In Natural Healing by Prevention Magazine.
Primrose oil, flaxseed oil, lavender, parsley, bee pollen and chaste berries, used widely in Europe, are other proven natural remedies that can ease common symptoms.
Increasing evidence shows premenstrual syndrome might also be triggered by dietary deficiencies in certain vitamins or minerals, especially magnesium. Red blood cell magnesium levels in PMS patients have been shown to be significantly lower than in normal subjects.
It is caused by normal changes in breast tissue related to monthly fluctuations in levels of estrogen and progesterone, which cause the glands and ducts in the breast to enlarge. As a result, the breasts become swollen, painful, tender, and lumpy. For many women, these symptoms occur as part of the premenstrual syndrome and usually disappear during or after menstruation.
If you have menstrual problems, you may be able to alleviate them with diet. Scientists have long known that food can influence the female hormone estrogen, affecting menstruation, and that carbohydrates are strongly linked to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Now research reveals surprising new clues about how certain foods and nutrients, including calcium, manganese, and especially dietary fat and cholesterol, may influence menstruation.
Although not everyone agrees on exactly why it happens, it is widely accepted that carbohydrates can act as mood elevators, particularly to relieve certain types of depression, such as the blues that come with premenstrual syndrome and the down moods of seasonal affective disorder.
Chlorella strengthens the immune system, promotes bowel health, helps to detoxify the body, alleviates peptic and duodenal ulcers, fights infection, and helps to counteract fatigue and mood swings associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and perimenopause.
Terms and definitions on this page
- A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.
- Worry or tension in response to real or imagined stress, danger, or dreaded situations. Physical reactions such as fast pulse, sweating, trembling, fatigue, and weakness may accompany anxiety.
- Chlorella is a genus of single-celled green algae, belonging to the phylum Chlorophyta. It is spherical in shape, about 2 to 10 nm in diameter, and is without flagella. Chlorella contains the green photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll-a and -b in its chloroplast. It depends on photosynthesis for growth and multiplies rapidly, requiring only carbon dioxide, water, sunlight, and a small amount of minerals..
- Any one of a group of hormones synthesized by the reproductive organs and adrenal glands in females and, in lesser quantities, in males. The estrogens cause the thickening of the lining of the uterus and vagina in the early phase of the ovulatory, or menstrual, cycle; in lower animals cyclical estrogen secretion also induces estrus, or "heat". The estrogens are also responsible for female secondary sex characteristics such as, in humans, pubic hair and breasts, and they affect other tissues including the genital organs, skin, hair, blood vessels, bone, and pelvic muscles..
- The period marked by the natural and permanent cessation of menstruation, occurring usually between the ages of 45 and 55.
- The time period prior to menopause that may last 10 to 15 years, even beginning in one's 30s. It is associated with decreased ovarian function and decreasing estrogen levels.
- Steroid hormone secreted by the female reproductive system that functions mainly to regulate the condition of the endometrium (see uterus), preparing it to accept a fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the level of progesterone drops, the uterine lining breaks down, and menstruation ensues. If the egg is fertilized, the placenta produces progesterone, whose effects include preparing the mammary glands for lactation..
- Bone marrow aspiration, also called bone marrow sampling, is the removal by suction of fluid from the soft, spongy material that lines the inside of most bones. Bone marrow biopsy, or needle biopsy, is the removal of a small piece of bone marrow.
- A period of life characterized by physiological and psychic change that marks the end of the reproductive capacity of women and terminates with the completion of menopause.
- A corresponding period sometimes occurring in men that may be marked by a reduction in sexual activity, although fertility is retained.
- In psychiatry, a symptom of mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of loss, sadness, hopelessness, failure, and rejection.
- Any one of a group of hormones synthesized by the reproductive organs and adrenal glands in females and, in lesser quantities, in males.
- A substance, usually a peptide or steroid, produced by one tissue and conveyed by the bloodstream to another to effect physiological activity, such as growth or metabolism.
- A disease in which the bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly, occurring especially in women following menopause and often leading to curvature of the spine from vertebral collapse.
- The syndrome occurs in several distinct forms: emotional upheaval, including anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression, forgetfulness, confusion, and lethargy; cravings for sweets, increased appetite, and intolerance to sugar (headache, heart palpitations, fatigue, and fainting); and fluid retention symptoms with weight gain, puffiness of hands and feet, breast swelling and tenderness, and abdominal bloating and tenderness. Some women suffer with symptoms of all these forms, others only a few..
- A drug prepared from natural or synthetic progesterone, used in the prevention of miscarriage, in the treatment of menstrual disorders, and as a constituent of some oral contraceptives.
- A female hormone that acts on the inner lining of the uterus and prepares it for implantation of the fertilized egg.
- A state of extreme difficulty, pressure, or strain.
- A physical and psychological response that results from being exposed to a demand or pressure.
- A white crystalline steroid hormone, C19H28O2, produced primarily in the testes and responsible for the development and maintenance of male secondary sex characteristics. It is also produced synthetically for use in medical treatment.