Menopause - Health Center

Menopause

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Menopause – Basic Overview

Menopause is defined as the occurring 12 months after the last menstrual period of a woman which marks the end of the menstrual cycles. In most women, menopause can happen in the 40’s or 50’s. 51 years is the average age for menopause around the world.

Menopause is a natural process, just as menarche. This period marks the end of the fertile phase in a woman’s life. However, the woman can remain healthy sexually even after menopause. Most women tend to feel relaxed after menopause, as they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant.

However, even after menopause, certain physical symptoms such as hot flashes and certain emotional symptoms can cause disruption in the sleeping patterns and can trigger feelings of anxiety. Effective treatments are available along with hormone therapies in order to help women deal with these symptoms. 

Causes of Menopause:

Menopause is a natural process. However, some of the major causes are as follows:

  1. Natural decline with age: when a woman attains the age of 30, the ovaries start producing less estrogens and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for the regulation of menstruation. Therefore, the fertility decreases with the passing of the years. In the 40’s, the menstrual cycles tend to become shorter and less frequent until the ovaries stop producing the eggs altogether, leading to menopause.
  2. Hysterectomy: Hysterectomy is a procedure in which the uterus of a woman is removed, but the ovaries are left intact. With this procedure, the ovaries release the eggs, but there is no menstruation due to the lack of a uterus.
  3. Chemotherapy/Radiation Therapy: These procedures are used for women suffering from cancer. These therapies induce menopause and can cause hot flashes in affected women.
  4. Ovarian Insufficiency: Around 1% women all around the world suffer from primary menopause before the age of 40 due to the failure of the ovaries to produce the hormones and thus, releasing the eggs. This is caused due to genetic abnormalities or due to autoimmune diseases. 

Signs and Symptoms of Menopause:

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of Menopause:

  •       Irregular periods
  •       Dryness of the vagina
  •       Hot flashes
  •       Night sweats
  •       Changes in the mood
  •       Problems with sleeping patterns
  •       Thinning of the hair
  •       Gain in weight
  •       Slowing down of the metabolism

Skipping of the periods during the phase of perimenopause is very common amongst women. Perimenopause is very common one to two years before menopause. During the start of the menopause, it is recommended to schedule visits with the doctor if you have any medical concerns. In case you experience vaginal bleeding after menopause, it is recommended to seek immediate medical care. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Menopause:

The signs and symptoms of Menopause are enough in order to make women aware that they have hit the menopause. However, in case you are having any problems regarding your hot flashes, it is recommended to seek immediate medical care. Tests are not required in order to diagnose menopause. In some of the rarer cases, the doctors may recommend the following measures:

  1. The doctors may check the levels of FSH and Estrogens, as both their levels decrease once Menopause hits.
  2. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)’s levels are also checked. An underactive thyroid gland (Hypothyroidism) is also known to cause the same symptoms as that of menopause. 

Treatment and Drugs for Menopause:

There is no medical treatment for Menopause. However, medications and therapies are available in order to manage the symptoms which come along with it. The following are the treatment options:

  1. Hormone Therapy: Estrogen Therapy has proved to be very helpful for treatment of the hot flashes which accompany menopause. The lowest dose of estrogen as required by the patient is prescribed in order to provide relief.
  2. Vaginal Estrogen: In order to get rid of vaginal dryness, estrogen can be applied directly to the vagina in the form of vaginal creams. In this, a small amount of estrogen is applied which is absorbed by the walls of the vagina.
  3. Antidepressants: Antidepressants known as SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are prescribed in order to decrease the hot flashes associated with menopause.
  4. Gabapentin: Gabapentin, a neurotonin has proved to be very helpful in order to treat hot flashes. This drug is used for women who cannot use estrogens therapy or those who are suffering from migraines. 
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