Much has been written and theorised about a woman’s middle years, as a result, many women look forward to this part of their lives with mixed feelings.
There are, in fact, many phenomena associated with menopause that are viewed negatively: mood swings, weight gain, reduced libido, sleep issues, hair loss, and the infamous hot flushes. This may sound alarming, but it does not mean that you can no longer enjoy life. In fact, it may actually mean that a new phase of one`s life – a more independent one – is just beginning.
Facts About Menopause
The last spontaneous menstrual period of a woman and hence the end of her “fertility” is called menopause. The name may be misleading, as this is not a “pause”, but rather the cessation of the menstrual cycle. It is brought about by hormonal changes, such as reduced estrogen production.
The years preceding and after menopause are called climacteric or “the change of life.” Climacteric comes from Greek and means “rung of a ladder” or “critical point in life.” Unfortunately, the reasons for calling it “critical” are not clear, but “rung of a ladder” is a nice metaphor. Menopause will usually start at some point between ages 40 and 55. By age 58 most women will have completed this phase of life.
Menopause is considered confirmed if a woman under the age of 50 has not menstruated for two years or, if a woman above 50 years of age has not menstruated for one year.
How Do Women Experience Menopause
We now know that
- 1/3 of women hardly experience any significant symptoms
- 1/3 of women experience “mild symptoms”
- 1/3 of women experience severe symptoms
Certainly, the term “menopause” has too many negative connotations. Nevertheless, during this important change in life, hormone replacement therapy can help ease uncomfortable symptoms. Such treatment can be administered through hormone patches. Other helpful means of dealing with the symptoms of menopause include: getting plenty of sleep and exercise, maintaining a structured lifestyle, and avoiding stimulants (e.g. tea and coffee) and cigarettes. So many factors within our control.
Experts now agree that many “symptoms” of menopause can have other causes, as well. Some of us age more easily than others. Some may cope with a separation and still others may suffer “empty nest syndrome”.
So, aside from medical aspects, a woman’s personal situation and individual disposition are critical factors. Fortunately, women can take heart that almost all symptoms disapear after menopause. Finally, things that were very annoying will be part of the past!
Image: LTS Lohmann Therapie-Systeme AG