The age of menopause refers specifically to the time when menstruation stops. On the other hand, the term climacteric defines the stage in which women lose their reproductive capacity.
Menopause is a physiological state of women that is part of the natural aging process. This stage is experienced differently according to hereditary factors, diet, lifestyle, social environment and cultural attitudes. The age of menopause refers specifically to the time when menstruation stops. However, the term climacteric is the stage in which the woman loses her reproductive capacity.
What stages does menopause comprise?
It is difficult to set a specific age for menopause. Rather we have to refer to a process. It is a stage that lasts between 5 and 15 years, and is characterized by the progressive decrease in the level of estrogens due to the loss of ovarian activity. It covers:
- Pre menopause: period in which the first manifestations of loss of ovarian activity appear. It can last from 2 to 8 years.
- Menopause: in this stage the definitive disappearance of menstruation takes place after an approximate period of 12 consecutive months absent from it. It usually appears around 50 years of age, although it could appear before 40, being early menopause.
- Post menopause: includes the period after the establishment of menopause in which all the symptoms arising from estrogen deficiency appear.
Do you know the symptoms of menopause?
Beyond the age of onset of menopause, there are signs that are common to most women who go through this stage. In some cases, the symptoms that may appear significantly affect a woman’s quality of life. Some suffer from insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and both physical and mental fatigue.
Hot flashes, unexplained sweats, palpitations, and joint and muscle pain may also appear. Hot flashes and sweats are the most typical symptoms and occur between 60 and 80% of women.
You can suffer them both at night and during the day and have their origin in an alteration of the functioning of the thermoregulatory center. They consist of a sensation of heat and a sudden increase in temperature, especially in the upper part of the torso, face and scalp.
Metabolic changes occur that cause an increase in body fat. There is also an alteration in its distribution, being located mainly in the abdominal area.
Menstrual alterations that occur until the definitive cessation of the rule stand out. These alterations affect both the regularity and the duration of the menstrual cycle.
At the vaginal level
The lack of estrogens causes changes among which are:
- Thinning of the vaginal wall and loss of elasticity.
- Changes in pH: there is an alkalinization of the vagina.
- Alteration of the vaginal flora.
- Decreased lubrication and libido.
At the urinary level
Among the alterations that can affect women at the urinary level are:
- Atrophy of the urethra, with the consequent increase in urinary infections.
- Increased urgency to urinate.
- Urinary incontinence stress.
Osteoporosis and cardiovascular risk
Lower estrogen levels increase the risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by the deterioration of bone structure, which leads to an increased risk of fractures and microfractures.
Similarly, the lack of estrogens causes LDL cholesterol levels to increase and HDL cholesterol levels to decrease, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Treatment of menopause
- For some women, the symptoms are very mild and are alleviated by following some basic recommendations. However, in other cases they are so annoying that it is necessary to consider the therapeutic option. At the age of menopause, it should be evaluated with a medical professional whether a treatment would be beneficial or not. As options we have: Hormone replacement therapy(HRT): it is the treatment of choice in cases of women with early menopause, menopause in which the symptoms are very annoying and in cases of risk of osteoporosis. Depending on the needs of each woman, estrogen-only therapy or combined estrogen-progestin therapy is used.
- Phytoestrogens: they are substances of plant origin with estrogenic effects, among which are isoflavones. Isoflavones are the most potent phytoestrogens, however they are of little use in terms of vaginal dryness, anxiety, or insomnia.
Recommendations for the age of menopause
To alleviate the symptoms, when the age of menopause arrives, while reducing the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases, we give you these recommendations:
- Follow a varied and balanced diet with a sufficient supply of calcium and vitamin D.
- Perform physical exercise on a regular basis.
- Use vaginal lubricants and moisturizers.
- Keep a low room temperature and avoid hot drinks.
- Do not smoke and reduce the consumption of coffee and alcohol.
- Carry out regular health checks.
Reaching the age of menopause leads to the appearance of alterations and symptoms, which in many cases significantly affect the quality of life. However, remember that all of them can be alleviated. It is important that you consult a health professional at this stage and perform the indicated controls to prevent diseases typical of this period.