It’s time to make way for mid-life manic
Periods suck, we can all agree on that. Though we find ourselves letting out a sigh of relief every time our body aggressively informs us that we aren’t pregnant, the blood loss, cramps and all-around exhaustion aren’t anything to look forward to. Some of us have, dare I say it, even longed for the day when it would stop…completely. Yes my friends, even the strongest of us have longed for Menopause, convincing ourselves that the demise of our menstrual cycle would mean the beginning of a new era. The reality is, however, that whilst we close the door on decades of uterine shedding, excessive pain and mood swings, we open another door letting in hot flushes, fatigue, brain fog and vaginal dryness. It just doesn’t end for us does it?
Menopause is the whole different ball game. It typically occurs in a women’s late 40’s to early 50’s. Menopause is generally used to collectively refer to what actually consists of 3 stages. During Perimenopause, the ovaries experience a gradual decline in their production of the hormone oestrogen. This stage occurs years before the peak of menopause where menstruation stops and the ovaries no longer release ovum or egg cells. Symptoms of menopause may be experienced during the later premenopausal years as a result of a steeper drop in oestrogen levels. Menopause itself is only confirmed when your period does not come back for a period of 12 months. A whole range of symptoms can be expected though they vary in intensity for each woman. Hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain, vaginal dryness, joint pain and fatigue are examples of the most common concerns during this time. The last phase, postmenopause is the time from menopause until the end of a women’s life. It is during this time that a woman is at a higher risk of various medical conditions including heart disease and stroke. Also, any vaginal bleeding during this time is considered abnormal.
As daunting as it all sounds, menopause can be treated and managed, there are various ways of treating menopause and menopause symptoms. Hot flushes are often treated with hormone therapy and anti-depressants though many women find relief in small lifestyle changes which include layering when dressing, losing weight and keeping cold water handy at all times. Vaginal dryness is a big concern as it can cause irritation, pain, a burning sensation as well as painful intercourse. The lowered oestrogen causes vaginal tissue to thin out, increasing the chance of tearing and cuts particularly during sex, putting women at a greater risk of contracting an STD. Treatment options include vaginal lubricants, moisturisers as well as the vaginal laser which is a recent innovation used to treat dryness and frequent infection. Mood changes, anxiety and depression can be treated best through holistic methods, ensuring you sleep enough, reduce alcohol intake and get enough exercise. It’s always best to speak to a medical practitioner who can talk through individual symptoms and determine the best way of managing them.