Because every woman is unique, it’s impossible to say exactly when you should expect menopause. On average, most women begin to notice their periods becoming less frequent in their late forties to early fifties, while for some this may not occur until well into their sixties. Menopause before the age of forty, although not uncommon, is still rare enough to be considered premature. Whatever age you are, if you suspect you may be experiencing the initial symptoms of the change, a visit to your doctor will clear up any uncertainty.
Different factors, including medical conditions, can affect when you reach menopause. However, like the age at which you started puberty, the timing of your menopause is partially predetermined by your genes; so finding out about your mother or other female relatives can sometimes offer an indication of when to prepare. You can read more about what age you are likely to reach menopause and the factors that influence it in our article here.
Reading The Signs
The first indication of menopause is usually an increase in the length of time between your periods. For some women, this will be the only noticeable difference, with periods gradually becoming less regular until they cease altogether. Menopause is officially defined as complete when menstruation has ceased for a year. Others, however, may demonstrate a host of different symptoms, such as mood swings, headaches, sleep disturbances, a faster heartbeat and an increased temperature, more sweating and spontaneous hot flashes. These issues can cause discomfort and inconvenience at the time, but are ultimately only temporary, albeit for a few years.
More long-term effects might include vaginal atrophy and associated sexual discomfort, continence issues, a decrease in your sex drive and, over time, osteoporosis (loss of bone density). Fortunately, there are many options for treating these – so the changes in your body needn’t mean a drastic change in your habits.
Getting On With Life – Naturally
At any age, it’s advisable to follow a healthy, low-fat diet and make sure you get plenty of exercise, but many experts consider this particularly important as you undergo menopause. A study published in the ‘Journal of Women and Aging’ suggests that aerobic exercise may be able to offer many of the same health benefits as hormonal therapies without any of the risks. In addition to staying fit, remember to keep cool to beat hot flashes: try dressing in loose-fitting clothing, avoiding alcohol and spicy foods, and also consider using ice packs and cooling fans.
It is also important, for your physical and mental well-being, to stay sexually active after menopause, with a partner or alone. Sexual stimulation and orgasms boost endogenous testosterone production which helps with vaginal muscle tone. Learn more about sex after menopause here.
There are countless useful products that you don’t need a prescription for. A lot of women find remedies such as natural progesterone cream and black cohosh indispensable in keeping their symptoms in check. If you need to alleviate vaginal dryness and sensitivity, you can find a range of intimate feminine moisturizers in most pharmacies.
Hormonal Therapies: Helpful Or Harmful?
Although natural solutions may be enough for some, if you are suffering from severe symptoms you should seek formal treatment. Your doctor will probably prescribe some form of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy, also known as Hormone Therapy or HT) to boost your depleted levels of hormones, primarily estrogen. The result is relief for the immediate symptoms, as well as a reduction in long-term risks such as osteoporosis.
In recent years there has been some debate about the safety of these treatments, with studies by the Women’s Health Initiative, among others, finding a possible relationship between hormone replacement and health problems including strokes, cancers and heart disease. However, expert opinion is divided over the issue, and most doctors will advise that you are safe provided you keep your dosage of these hormones as low as you can and avoid very long-term use. Each case is different, and your doctor will be able to tell you the best approach by considering your personal and family medical history.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.