Menopause literally means the end of monthly cycles. The average age menopause occurs is 51, so I’m anticipating next year to be quite eventful [oh dear].
THE SCIENCE BIT
Menopause happens when the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The majority of women will experience a gradual change in menstrual activity, while some go on normally until they suddenly stop.
Perimenopause describes the years leading up to a woman’s last period. You may experience changes in your menstrual flow – heavier, lighter or irregular, [lighter, please]. Most women will go through several [!] years of perimenopausal symptoms before their periods end.
The most commonly known symptoms include hot flashes and night sweats. Hot flashes usually occur for at least one year and up to five years [noooooo!] before cessation of menstruation; they can be a major annoyance, [you don’t say?] disrupting your sleep and daily life, or you may be lucky, and for you they might simply be a minor inconvenience.
Hot flashes most commonly occur at night and can last from a few seconds up to an hour. They may occur up to ten times in one day and often begin before you notice any changes in your menstrual cycle.
You may also begin to notice vaginal dryness which may be relieved using a vaginal lubricant (check out my post on Balance Activ Moisture Gel) or if it’s a serious problem, your doctor can prescribe an estrogen cream. Never use petroleum jelly such as Vaseline as a vaginal lubricant. Petroleum jelly may cause damage to condoms and diaphragms, and increases your risk of vaginal infection.
Up to 75 percent of women report being more fatigued and emotional changes of nervousness, depression, and mood swings may also be present [nice]
No good news then? Well, there is actually. Thanks to the internet, we now have more resources at our fingertips than ever before to help us cope with whatever challenges the menopause throws at us. Whatever changes you are going through, someone else will have gone through exactly the same ones and blogged about it!
Founded by Dr. Heather Currie, an Associate Specialist Gynaecologist and Obstetrician with contributions from ‘a group of UK-based clinicians who are all experts in the field of menopause management‘ ie they know what they’re talking about.
This is easily the best menopause information website out there. It’s a comprehensive guide, broken down into easy to read chunks on symptoms, solutions and health advice. There’s a particularly good Hormone Replacement Therapy section.
Unlike a lot of ‘fact based’ sites, they’re not trying to sell you a wacky miracle supplement. It’s just clear, independent advice.
The information at the top of the page is much the same as anywhere else on the subject, but scroll down a bit and peruse the comments from women of all ages – the youngest is 36. It’s an interesting read, the chances are that you will relate to a lot of their experiences.
We all need to remember that going through the menopause as unpleasant as it has the potential to be, (and hey, you could still sail gracefully through it), doesn’t mean you’re officially old, it’s just nature.
Of course, if you’re down Florida way over in the US, you could treat yourself to a performance of Menopause The Musical – I understand it’s a one off…