Menopause is a stage every woman experiences in her life, this is when a woman stops having her monthly menstrual cycle. It is a normal part of aging which marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Women typically experience menopause during their late 40s or early 50s. However, they can experience “sudden” menopause at any age once the ovaries have been surgically removed.
Hormonal changes experienced during menopause
The traditional changes of menopause occur when ovaries no longer produce high levels of hormones. The function of ovaries is to both, release reproductive eggs in the fallopian tube and produce reproductive hormones estrogen, progesterone, and small amounts of testosterone. Progesterone and estrogen control menstruation. Hence, reduced levels of both hormones lead to menopause and other creates an imbalance in calcium and cholesterol levels in the body.
As it is with hormonal changes, the physical changes occurring during and before menopause can be bothersome but, are a part of the menopause transition. However, there are other complications that might affect overall health when women approach menopause. Some of the complications are listed below:
With the decline in the estrogen levels, there is an increased chance of suffering from osteoporosis. Estrogen is an important hormone as it supports osteoblasts – a type of bone cells that are important for bone production. The reduced level of estrogen can cause osteoporosis leading to weaker and softer bones. Fracture is one of the major complications associated with osteoporosis, which usually occurs in the spine, wrist, and hip region. Fractures can pose a serious problem, especially during the older age as the body takes a longer time to recover. Hence, doctors recommend reducing osteoporosis risk by regular exercise and a calcium-rich, healthy diet.
The occasional and involuntary release of urine or urinary incontinence is a common aging problem in women, particularly after menopause. The reduced levels of estrogen cause the vaginal tissues and lining of the urethra (a tube connecting the bladder outside the body) to lose its elasticity. As a result, a person might experience uncontrollable urine leakage during sudden movement such as coughing, sneezing, or even laughing. One can control urine incontinence by quitting smoking and losing weight. It is also advised to talk to the doctors about possible options to treat urinary incontinence.
It is important to know that the risk of heart diseases increases after menopause. Hence it is observed women are more likely to have a heart attack than men. Also, the steep decline in the estrogen levels might result in an irregular heartbeat. The risk of heart disease can be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle and a heart-healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Most women experience weight gain as they reach their 40s and 50s. However, due to the natural process of aging and menopause, it is harder to maintain muscle mass. Lower muscle mass slows down the metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. The weight gain is usually around the abdomen and is particularly dangerous as it can increase your risk of heart disease. Hence, it is important to choose a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and curbing junk food.