Menopause and Perimenopause
What is Menopause and Perimenopause?
Menopause is the permanent cessation of menses that may occur naturally or occurs following certain surgeries, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The mean age of onset of menopause in Indian women is about 44.3 years.
Perimenopause denotes the years prior to menopause those encompass the symptoms associated with normal menstrual cycles and cessation of menses. This period is marked by irregularity of menstrual cycles.1
What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Menopause?
Menopause is a natural physiological mechanism in a woman’s body wherein she stops menstruating. During menopause a woman’s hormone mechanisms undergo numerous changes that finally lead to the cessation of menstrual cycles.
Smoking has been linked to earlier onset of the menopausal process wherein it is dependent on the number of cigarettes smoked and the duration of the habit.2
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Menopause?
Menopausal women usually suffer from a wide array of signs and symptoms that may affect almost all organs of the body.
Commonly noted signs and symptoms include:
- A feeling of sudden warmth in the face, neck, and chest (hot flush)
- Increased anxiety, depression and irritability
- Urgency of urination, burning or pain during urination
- Vaginal dryness and decreased sexual desire
- Night sweats and sleeping problems
- Increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture3
How is it Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of menopause is based on factors such as the age of the woman and signs and symptoms observed.
Absence of periods for a span of 1 year along with other features of menopause is usually diagnostic.
Measurement of the FSH levels in the body is also considered as a diagnostic feature.
The doctor may advise additional tests that may need to be repeated periodically in order to check for any abnormal changes in the body.
What is the treatment?
The therapy is based on the severity of the clinical features of menopause.
Most women cope well with lifestyle modifications such as
- Diet modifications (high fiber, low fat, foods rich in antioxidants, soya),
- Smoking cessation
- Decreased alcohol intake
- Stress reduction
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is generally advised for women who are symptomatic and are at high-risk of developing cardiovascular disorders, osteoporosis, Alzheimer disorder or colonic cancer. This is generally advised for a period of 3–6 months. Menopausal women may also be required to take calcium and vitamin supplements.2
What are the Complications?
Menopausal women may experience bleeding even after cessation of menses. They may also be at increased risk of developing osteoporosis, cardiovascular disorders or cancer of the colon.3
1.Menopause Practice: A Clinician’s Guide [homepage on Internet]. Cleveland, OH: The North American Menopause Society; c2007 [updated 2007; cited 2007 Dec 27]. Available from: http://www.menopause.org/edumaterials/cliniciansguide/cliniciansguidetoc.htm
2.Al-Azzawi F. The menopause and its treatment in perspective. Postgrad Med J. 2001; 77(907): 292–304.
3.Butler WJ. Normal and abnormal uterine bleeding. In: Rock JA, Jone HW III, (eds). Te Linde’s Operative Gynecology. 9th edn. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2003, pp. 457–470.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: January 19, 2015