Women will go through menopause, that’s just a fact of life. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, however. This time around, with life expectancy getting longer and mortality rates getting lower, more women are expected to enter this phase than ever before.

Worldwide, 1.2 billion women are estimated to enter this stage by 2030, according to the World Health Organization. So as
menopause is inevitable, what can we expect and how can we prepare for it?

Menopause means end of the month, coming from the Greek word pausis that means “pause” and mēn that means “month.” This is the period of a woman’s life where her period stops and several physical and emotional changes are encountered.

There is no exact age when, but on average it occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. Some may have it earlier or later, depending on their state of health or their genes. But menopause does not happen abruptly, like waking up with hot flashes or your period stops all of a sudden. It is a gradual process that happens in three stages:

  • Perimenopause, meaning “around menopause,” is the phase where you start to feel menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, irregular periods, fatigue, body aches, body pains, vaginal dryness, frequent or uncontrolled urination, dry skin, and sometimes depression. This stage is also when your body makes less estrogen, the female sex hormone, partly contributing to the changes that women are experiencing in this stage. Perimenopause begins four to five years before menopause, but some may experience it for only a few months, or even as long as 10 years.
  • Menopause is when your period has stopped for a year. This is also the stage when estrogen is not produced anymore and the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs.
  • Postmenopause happens after a year since your last period. The symptoms experienced during perimenopause may start to subside during this time, however, a host of other complications may arise, like heart conditions or bone-related issues.

Since everyone experiences menopause differently, there are also different ways to ease or help manage the symptoms. From skin dryness to hot flashes, here are some tips to cope with menopause.

– Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is given to those individuals with unmanageable symptoms. It can manage vaginal dryness and hot flashes, among others. Non-hormonal medication, however, is also available such as gabapentin and cloridin to also help with these symptoms.

– Topicals are also prescribed for skin-related changes. Hydrating creams and serums containing peptides or hyaluronic acid help with skin moisture. Aside from HRT, estrogen creams may also be prescribed for uncomfortable vaginal symptoms.

– Lasers are also another alternative treatment for skin changes, urinary issues, and vaginal dryness. Ultherapy and facelifts help with skin-tightening; radiofrequency technology may be advised for patients with bladder issues, and erbium and CO2
lasers for vaginal dryness.

– Vitamin supplements, such as vitamin D, may be prescribed to help with bone health.

– Lifestyle changes are always encouraged. Exercise, socialization, and avoiding alcohol and smoking may help ease or improve symptoms such as weight gain and mood swings.

Since menopause is inevitable, it is very important to be aware of the common symptoms and ask questions when you feel that you are nearing this stage of your life. That said, menopause should not stop you from doing the things you love and enjoy. Sure, there are physical and emotional changes that can happen gradually or all at once, and some may be uncomfortable, but learning to accept the process, understanding the changes, and keeping on living your healthiest self will make you enjoy your life at its fullest—with no pauses!

See more at: Manila Bulletin


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