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Menopause

A change in lifestyle

Menopause begins officially when a woman has not experienced her menstrual cycle for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. It is a time of emotional and physiological change where her body stops producing estrogen and her reproductive years are coming to a close.

Menopause

Natural menopause occurs with the aging process. Surgical menopause, on the other hand, happens instantly, because of the removal of the uterus and / or ovaries (which produce estrogen). The average age for menopausal women is about 51, but women can experience menopause between 45 to 55 years of age.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the period of transition into menopause which can last between two to eight years, including the first year after a woman's final menses. During perimenopause, a woman can experience hormonal imbalances where levels of estrogen and progesterone fluctuate up and down, creating mood swings and other symptoms of menopause. Periods may become shorter or longer, and there may be cycles where there is no ovulation. Perimenopause can start with women in their 30s, but it usually begins in their 40s, with accompanying menstrual irregularities.

Symptoms of Menopause

Symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disorders, low libido, vaginal dryness, breast tenderness, hair loss, osteoporosis, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, memory lapses, difficulties concentrating, headaches, migraines and crashing fatigue. Depending on the severity of menopause symptoms, women can get relief through lifestyle changes such as yoga, exercise and vitamin supplements. They can also eat a diet rich in estrogenic foods such as soy, apples, alfalfa, cherries, potatoes, rice, wheat and yams.

Treatment of Menopause Symptoms

Alternative medicines such as herbal remedies, the menopause diet pill, acupuncture and supplements can provide relief. Macafem, a natural herbal supplement, can help with weight gain by stimulating natural hormone production in the body. Other remedies include black cohosh, soy, evening primrose oil and wild yams.

If the above alternatives offer little relief, hormone therapy would be the last route to go. Since it is controversial and not for all women, taking small doses for short periods of time can help. Hormone therapy can be taken in pill or patch form, with a cream for vaginal dryness. Estrogen alone can give relief to women who have had their uterus removed through a hysterectomy. For women who still have their uterus, estrogen with progestin is recommended. However, synthetic hormones increase risks of ovarian, breast and uterine cancer, heart disease, strokes and blood clots.

Weight gain is also an issue for menopausal women. Trying to lose weight through diuretics, laxatives and appetite suppressants should be avoided. Estrin D and EstriLife are menopause diet pills which help stimulate metabolism and hormonal imbalance with a combination of vitamin B6, magnesium oxide and a blend of herbs, seeds, leaves, fruit and caffeine.

By A. Major

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