Menopause: causes, symptoms and signs
Sooner or later, every woman begins to think about the onset of one of the important periods in her life, which follows menopause. Often these thoughts cause concern because the state is associated with certain physical and psychological changes that can affect the established way of life. Let’s see how the symptoms of menopause appear and what the essence of these changes is.
The concept and causes of menopause
The first thing to say about this state is that it is completely natural. Upon reaching the appropriate age, every female representative on our planet experiences it.
The main feature of the period after menopause is hormonal adjustment. The ovaries gradually stop producing the estrogen sex hormones. But this does not happen immediately – for about 2 years after the last menstruation, they still retain this function. However, then, in the absence of estrogen, many body systems begin to experience a lack of a hormone, which makes them vulnerable to pathological changes.
Often, women in menopause are afraid of menopausal syndrome. The latter is a consequence of hormonal adjustment. The severity of the syndrome depends on heredity, external conditions (lifestyle), as well as structural features of the body. On average, 26–48%  face this condition , and according to some data, up to 75% women. Therefore, it is important to know when it is necessary to be ready for its attack.
When menopause comes
If we talk about natural, that is, not operational, manifestations of the menopausal period in women, then there are several age groups within which the extinction of the reproductive function most often begins.
Premature menopause – up to 40 years. It occurs in 3–10% of cases, and experts cannot associate this phenomenon with a specific cause, calling the totality of external influences, heredity, and immunity features, and possibly psychological factors (for example, stress), as a provocateur of the condition .
Early menopause is about 40–45 years old. The reasons for the early onset of menopause in a woman may be similar to the premature, but less pronounced.
Timely menopause occurs at the age of 46–54 years, which is considered normal with the current life expectancy.
Late menopause – from 55 years and above. This phenomenon can be both hereditary and caused by pathological conditions of the body. It is known that late onset of menopause increases the risk of breast cancer.
Still, in most cases, the first changes in their condition, which are caused by the extinction of the reproductive function, are noted by many women on the eve of 45–50 years. Modern medicine divides this process into several separate stages.
Menopausal transition (premenopause)
Menstruation cycles become irregular, in the early stages of deviation can be up to 7 days, and in the late period, the delay sometimes reaches 60 days. Often the menopausal transition occurs at the age of 40–45 years.
As we noted above, despite common beliefs, by this term doctors denote not a period, but a specific event – the last menstruation. The date is determined “in hindsight”, one year after the cessation of bleeding.
This term refers to the period that lasts throughout the life of a woman after the onset of menopause. It is associated with the end of hormonal fluctuations, stabilization of estrogen levels (low rates), and in many cases the disappearance of unpleasant menopausal symptoms.
Sometimes menopause may come unexpectedly for a woman, although she planned to prepare for this period. In order to prevent such situations, you should learn more about the “forerunners” of menopause.
First signs of menopause
It is important for any woman to understand what is happening with her body – it helps to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, which only aggravate the situation. That is why you need to know about the very first signs and symptoms of menopause.
If the severity of other symptoms may be weak and may be ignored, one of them most clearly indicates a gradual extinction of ovarian function. And this – menstruation. At the very beginning of premenopause, the “menstrual periods” can give many surprises. In some cases, the cycle is confused in the direction of increasing the period, in others – reducing the intervals between menstruation. Although it should be noted that in 5–10% of women, the regular cycle persists until menopause.
Sometimes other symptoms make themselves felt, at first rarely and weakly, and over time more and more often. Let us consider in more detail the effect of menopause on the body systems of a woman.
As already mentioned, the climacteric period in a woman is associated with the almost complete cessation of the production of the hormone estrogen. Receptors that are sensitive to this hormone are located in many organs (bladder, heart and arteries, brain, bones, skin, etc.), which means that the work of each of them is subject to restructuring. Let’s look at which systems are undergoing the greatest changes.
The first 1-2 years after menopause:
Blood vessels. Associated with their work is the most associated symptom with menopause – hot flashes. These are sudden sensations of fever lasting 1–2 minutes, which are often accompanied by profuse sweating, sometimes chills, and dizziness. Quite often occur at night, which contributes to poor sleep. Also from the side of blood vessels, painful spasmodic syndromes in the region of the heart are noted
The nervous system. At first, postmenopausal depressions are common, frequent mood changes, sleep disturbances, irritability, and concentration disorders. This is due to the effect of hormonal imbalance on the hypothalamus.
2-5 years after menopause:
Genitourinary system . Common symptoms include dryness and discomfort in the vagina (itching, burning), frequent urination. Reducing the amount of estrogen causes disruption of the microflora of the vagina – the number of lactobacilli decreases, the pH of the medium increases. Due to the insufficient blood supply, the muscle tone of the urethra gradually decreases.
The skin also has a certain sensitivity to loss of estrogenic balance. In many cases, it becomes drier, wrinkles appear. All skin appendages also suffer – hair and nails become brittle, lose their attractive appearance. This is due to a decrease in the formation of collagen with estrogen deficiency.
5-8 years after menopause:
Bone system. One of the most dangerous risks of menopause in women is the development of osteoporosis, which is caused by the regular “leaching” of calcium from the bones, as a result, they become much more fragile. About 20–40% of women in developed countries face this problem, and in about 30% of cases, it leads to fractures. It is all about the deficiency of calcium and vitamin D on the background of hormonal changes – in order to maintain a normal level of a substance in the blood, the body independently “takes” calcium from the bones. In the postmenopausal period, a woman can lose up to 2% of bone tissue each year.
Cardiovascular system. After menopause, the risk of atherosclerotic events increases – angina pectoris, heart attacks, strokes. The protective role of estrogen in relation to the cardiovascular system practically ceases, and imbalances in the balance of calcium and vitamin D also play their role.
One of the important problems of modern medicine is to maintain the normal level of life of women after menopause. This applies both to physiological manifestations, symptoms of estrogen reduction, psychological state, and to countering the risks of developing dangerous diseases – osteoporosis and disorders in the cardiovascular system. Properly selected therapy for the manifestations of the postmenopausal syndrome avoids many of the complications that may arise during this period.
How can menopause symptoms be reduced?
Currently, the onset of menopause often coincides with the achievement of a certain level of life by a woman – the current family environment, career success, high self-esteem. And hormonal changes violate the usual course of things, affecting the state of health and attitude. Before modern medical products appeared on the shelves of pharmacies, many preferred to endure with all the symptoms of extinction of reproductive function. Others resorted to the help of folk remedies, often ineffective and even dangerous. But now there is no need for such extremes because the reduction to a minimum of discomfort after menopause is possible with the help of modern medicines.
Both synthetic hormonal preparations and natural ones based on phytoestrogens are used for these purposes. These are plant compounds that have an estrogenic effect on the body – among them is genistein, an organic substance similar in structure to these hormones In addition, older women are recommended to take calcium and vitamin D3 preparations – for strengthening bones, teeth and, cardiovascular system. They also stimulate the production of collagen, which can positively affect the condition of the skin and hair. There are drugs that combine these two components – genistein as a substitute for estrogen, as well as vitamin supplements. Therefore, when choosing a drug, be sure to pay attention to its composition