The "change of life“: How to take care of yourself during menopause
Last updated date: 18-Jul-2021
4 mins read
Menopause is the transition every woman goes through at advancing age. Also called the ”change of life,“ it’s the time in a woman's life when monthly periods come to an end.
How does menopause happen?
Menopause is the normal biological process marking the end of the woman’s fertility. Respective hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, begin to decline during perimenopause, which means that the ovaries stop producing their sex hormones efficiently. As ovulation stops, so do monthly periods.
Menopausal changes usually begin after the age of 40, when the woman’s body enters the aging process and hormonal changes. Menopause itself is the moment 12 months after the last period.
How does menopause affect women?
The menopausal transition is a gradual process with fluctuations along the way. Along with irregular periods and hormonal adjustments, the woman’s body undergoes many changes. Symptoms as described below are often a part of the transition. Going into postmenopause, symptoms may continue for an average of four to five years.
What are the most common symptoms of menopause?
Menopause can affect every part of the body. Hot flushes and night sweats are common, accompanied by mood changes with feeling labile and irritable. It is normal to experience fatigue and feeling down with no energy. Along with headaches and anxiety, some women may suffer depression.
Menopause might furthermore trigger worrisome, but harmless heart palpitations. Insomnia, weight gain, muscle pain, joint pain and thinning hair are further symptoms alongside dry, itchy skin and dry eyes.
Some women experience metabolic syndrome which is a combination of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, due to the aging metabolism and drop in hormones.
The vulva and vagina may be dry with a burning sensation and painful during intercourse.
Also not uncommon is dysplasia of the cervix, a precancerous condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs on the surface lining of the cervix.
Vaginitis and urinary tract infections might become recurrent. Some women suffer from urinary incontinence.
Postmenopausal women are furthermore more susceptible to osteoporosis which is closely related to estrogen deficiency. During menopausal transition, the drop of estrogen leads to more bone resorption than formation. This can result in osteoporosis.
Can menopause be dangerous?
Aside from physical and mental discomfort, menopause is no cause for alarm. The climacteric period is as individual as the woman herself. Every woman experiences this transition differently.
Many factors influence the fundamental changes occurring in the body, such as overall health, diet, lifestyle and general state of mind. But even for women who suffer from more severe menopause, there are ways to living as normal a life as possible.
How is Bumrungrad specialized in treating menopause?
Treatment primarily seeks to relieve symptoms. Bumrungrad specialist doctors first look up the patient’s history. How severe are the menopausal symptoms? How affected is the quality of life? Specialists consider if there are any indications or contraindications to prescribe hormone treatment or any alternative treatment, such as non-hormonal, dietary and/or lifestyle changes.
Standard examination consists of lab tests, pelvic exam, pap smear and mammogram. Based on the findings, the treatment is determined, such as hormonal or non-hormonal treatment.
It is also advised to check family history of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, etc. Menopause symptoms might be misread for the onset of a potentially serious, underlying hereditary condition.
Can menopause symptoms be treated naturally?
Many factors determine the severity of a woman’s menopause. Aside from biological factors that cannot be changed, a variety of alternative measures and behavioral adjustments might in many cases alleviate symptoms.
A balanced low-fat diet with little sugar and few carbohydrates can have such an alleviating effect. Soybean products, such as tofu, contain isoflavones, a plant-based compound that is similar to estrogen that can help reduce menopause symptoms. It is generally recommended to avoid salt and enjoy foods which are rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as spinach, kale, soybeans and some fish, such as sardines and salmon.
Primary sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products, such as hard cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt as well as fruits and green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli.
At least 150 minutes per week of regular exercise are advised. That means 3-5 times per week, with enough recovery time in-between.
No less important is mental health. Meditation can be of great benefit by providing a stable mood and inner peace. Enough sleep also helps the body to recover and build up sufficient strength.
Menopause need not limit life
A woman's body faces many challenges before, during and after menopause. Your doctors know how to make this journey easier for you. As natural as menopause is, it is also normal to want to live a daily life that is largely unaffected by the physically and mentally stressful changes of menopause.
At Bumrungrad, specialized doctors suggest a clear path to living as normal a life as possible during the menopausal transition. By adhering to basic key guidelines – hormonal balance, nutrition, exercise and overall well-being - every woman can make the most of her ”change of life.“