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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Menopause ==Health Awareness

What is menopause?

Menstruation is a process during which women normally shed the lining of the uterus at regular intervals under the influence of the female sex hormone, oestrogen. At about the age of 45 to 50 the ovaries stop making oestrogen and the withdrawal of the hormone results in stoppage of the monthly menstrual periods. This is called menopause and it happens naturally to all women sooner or later but may also be induced if the ovaries are removed or stop functioning for any other reason.
What does oestrogen do?

Oestrogen along with another female sex hormone, progesterone plays an important role in developing the female body and its functions, most notably pregnancy. Development of breasts, broadening of hips and functions of the vagina, uterus and other female organs depend on oestrogen. With progesterone, it maintains the cyclical periods and prepares the uterus for pregnancy.

Other beneficial effects include maintaining bone growth and protecting the heart by increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL). This is why women are less prone to heart attacks before menopause. This protective effect is lost after menopause.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

The majority of women will observe some symptoms during menopause, but the intensity of these varies in different women.
    • Irregular bleeding - Menstrual periods have three normal patterns of stopping: they may suddenly stop, they may come on time, but keep reducing in the quantity of flow till they finally stop or they may keep getting delayed till they finally stop. Heavy or frequent periods are NOT normal.
    • Hot flushes - This is the most prominent symptom. There is a sudden sensation of heat that spreads to various parts of the body, particularly the face. Flushing and sweating may occur. These flashes of warmth last a few seconds or minutes. These are more common in the first few years after menopause but may continue for many more years. If they occur very frequently, they can be the cause of social embarrassment. These flashes may be brought on in hot and humid weather, by drinking caffeine or alcohol or eating spicy foods.
    • Vaginal thinning and dryness - Due to oestrogen withdrawal, the vagina becomes thinner and dry. This makes sexual intercourse painful. There may be associated itching and irritation. Regular sexual intercourse may help keep the vagina moist and toned.
    • Mood changes - Women become irritable and anxious around menopause. There may be loss of memory and concentration and lack of energy. Depression may also be present. These symptoms may not be a direct effect of oestrogen withdrawal, but may be compounded by career pressures, sexual inadequacies and loss of fertility and body image.
    • Sexuality - Several factors adversely effect the libido or sex drive. Besides the mechanical factor of vaginal dryness that makes intercourse painful, mood fluctuations and lack of energy all contribute to a poor sex drive.
    • Osteoporosis - Bones become thin, weak and are more likely to break. This happens because the oestrogen that helps reduce bone absorption is no longer available. Osteoporosis is more likely in Asian women, and those that are slim built. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing osteoporosis.
    • Heart disease - Women lose the protective effect of oestrogen in preventing heart disease after menopause. They then become susceptible to heart attack as much as men. This risk is increased if the woman is obese, has high blood pressure or diabetes, smokes cigarettes and does not do any physical activity regularly.

    What can be done?
    Menopause happens to all women and cannot be prevented. The bad effects can be minimized by hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In this, oestrogen along with progesterone is given around the time of menopause. These reduce the symptoms of menopause, prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of heart attack. However, HRT is not without its risks, which may include cancer of the breast or the uterus. The risks and benefits of HRT must be fully discussed with the doctor before starting treatment.

    4 Simple Cures For Post Menopausal Weight Gain

    Image: Shutterstock
    Among the many changes that come with menopause, weight gain is one of the most prominent ones. This weight gain generally occurs around your midsection and is also called meno-pot or middle-age spread. The problem with this weight gain is not just the tummy-Pudge, but the increased health risks it brings along. According to Mayo Clinic, this increased midsection fat results in higher risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s dementia, and high blood pressure in women.
    This weight gain is pretty common, but that does not mean it is inevitable. With proper understanding of the causes of this weight gain, you can certainly avoid those unwanted extra pounds.

    Causes Of Post Menopausal Weight Gain:

    Most people think of this kind of weight gain solely as an unavoidable symptom of menopause, as something that will just happen because you are going through your transition. But ladies, that is not the truth! Yes, weight gain happens during menopause, but it can be avoided. Here are the causes that contribute to this weight gain.

    1. Hormones:

    Hormonal imbalance is one of the most important causes of menopausal weight gain. What happens during menopause is that our estrogen and progesterone levels decrease to a great extent with the cessation of egg production in our body. But since these hormones are required for many other important functions, our body seeks out other ways to produce these hormones. So the accumulation of fat around our abdomen during peri-menopause is our body’s stress response to the insufficient amount of estrogen.

    2. Ageing:

    With increasing age, our body starts losing the muscles, which leads to increased fat. Our metabolism rate decreases with age too, which means decreased rate of calorie burning. Moreover, most elderly women tend to do lesser physical exercise and activity which results in weight gain too.

    How To Avoid Weight Gain:

    Since there is not just one factor responsible for weight gain during menopause, you cannot avoid or get rid of the extra pounds successfully until you approach the problem from all angles. You have to treat all the causes that result in menopausal weight gain. Here is what you can do:

    1. Hormone Balancing Therapy:

    Go for it! So many women shy away from such treatments, especially Indian women. We have a habit of just accepting everything and suffering mutely. But, those days are over when you just suffered in silence and forgo all good things in life! Hormone Balancing Therapy and Hormone Replacement Therapy are procedures, which deal with the loss of sex hormones during menopause. Go to your doctor for consultation.

    2. Exercise:

    Yes, you are getting older. But that doesn’t mean you can’t move your body a little! Get up and exercise. Seriously! A large percentage of elderly people are not active enough and this leads to so many health problems. So, go for a morning walk, join a gym, do any physical activity that you like and just keep moving.

    3. Diet:

    Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Getting older does not mean you can’t eat those dry fruits or that you don’t need the proteins. You need these and more. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Ask your doctor for the supplements you need to take. Take care of your body and nourish it. The key is not to eat less but eat healthy.

    4. Sleep:

    As we grow older, our sleep hours seem to just take a nose dive! And with menopause, a number of sleep disorders come to haunt us. You feel fatigued, exhausted, tired and downright moody all the time. Blame it on lack of sleep. So make sure you get a good night’s sleep daily.

    5. Stress:

    Menopause brings with it increased levels of stress. And, this stress contributes to those extra pounds. Join a yoga class, do meditation, enjoy yourself, and do anything that is a stress-buster for you.
    Remember, menopause is not the end of life and happiness. Fight back and show it who owns your body, who is the boss! All you need to do is a little work to avoid that weight gain and the problems which come with it.

    Follow the above mentioned tips to lead a healthy and a happy life.


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