In the years before and after the last menstrual period, women are going through menopause. They describe the transition from the phase of life in which women can have children to the phase in which pregnancy is no longer possible.
Menopause usually begins in their mid-40s. The ovaries gradually produce fewer sex hormones, and ovulation does occur less. Fertility decreases. One sign: the menstrual periods are more irregular. The cycles are often shorter at the beginning and often longer later. Eventually, the menstrual periods stop completely.
The very last menstrual period is called menopause. On average, women in this country are 51 years old at this point in time. However, the range is wide. For some women, their periods stop by the age of 45 or earlier. Others do not experience menopause until they are in their mid-50s. It usually takes several more years before the hormonal change is completed. The technical term for menopause is climacteric.
If the bleeding stops before the age of 40, it is a premature menopause. A hormone test at the doctor can provide information as to whether the menopause has already started.
Menopause is not a disease, but a normal phase of life. Because the levels of the female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen change during this time, symptoms such as hot flashes or sweating can occur. Whether and how severely women suffer from menopausal symptoms varies greatly from person to person. A third of all women get along well with it and have little or no problems.
Many women struggle with recurring hot flashes during menopause. Most of the time, a heatwave suddenly spreads over the face, neck and upper body. The face turns red and a sweat outbreak follows, which lasts for a few minutes, after which a shiver often sets in. In around a third of those affected, such hot flashes occur over a period of five years or longer. For many women, hot flashes resolve on their own during menopause.
During menopause, some women also sweat more at night. This can disturb sleep. However, there also can be other causes of night sweats.
Numerous other symptoms are associated with menopause. In many cases it is questionable whether they are actually all due to hormonal changes. Other causes are also conceivable. Some complaints generally occur more frequently with increasing age. Therefore, complaints should be clarified by a doctor.
The hormonal change can cause the mucous membranes in the genital area to become thinner and drier and more prone to injuries and infections. The vagina does not get really moist when aroused, women may experience pain during sex. Some women report that they are more likely to have urinary tract infections.
Sleep problems are often associated with menopause. A disturbed night’s sleep can impair performance and lead to exhaustion during the day. However, there are numerous possible reasons for insomnia.
Hormone fluctuations can be a possible cause of depressive moods, listlessness, nervousness and inner restlessness. Whether this could be the case should be clarified with a specialist.
The hormonal imbalance often leads to changes in the cycle. The intervals between menstrual periods shorten or lengthen. In some women, the bleeding becomes more severe. As a precaution, abnormalities in the cycle should always be examined by a doctor.
Women often become a bit fuller during menopause. However, many middle-aged men also put on weight. Because over the years, the need for calories decreases in both sexes, the muscle mass decreases. Those who do not take countermeasures inevitably gain weight. A healthy, balanced diet and plenty of exercise will help you maintain your weight.
With the hormonal change, the risk of the bone disease osteoporosis increases, as does the risk of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Anyone who consciously eats a healthy diet and does plenty of exercises can at least take countermeasures.
For many women, menopause occurs at a time of further “changes” in life: the children are independent and leave the house. Suddenly there is more time for the partnership again. That can strengthen the relationship, and sometimes it can be a challenge. Many women have reached their zenith or even exceeded them in their jobs at this stage in their lives. Some reorient themselves professionally or dare to start over after bringing up children. Such upheavals in the private as well as in the professional life influence well-being – positively or negatively.
Menopause is not a disease therefore treatment is not absolutely necessary.
However, around a third of all women suffer severely from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and sweats. In such cases, natural hormone therapy is an option. It partially replaces hormones that the body no longer produces itself and can thus alleviate symptoms.
Whether hormones make sense in individual cases, and if so in what form, should be discussed with the specialist on an individual basis. Any hormone therapy should proceed according to the principle: as few hormones as possible, as much as necessary. This means that the hormones are used in the lowest effective dosage and for the shortest possible duration.
A basic distinction is made between monotherapy, in which only estrogens are used, and combination therapy, in which a combination of estrogen and progestin is used. Since estrogens alone would stimulate the growth of the uterine lining too much and increase the risk of uterine cancer, a combination therapy is usually prescribed. However, once a woman’s uterus has been removed, there is usually no need for progestins.
Hormone preparations are available in tablet form, as a plaster, gel or nasal spray.
If the vagina is dry, estrogen-containing creams, suppositories or gels that are inserted into the vagina help. Here they unfold their effect immediately. Even with the local form of hormone therapy, however, a certain amount of the hormone gets into the bloodstream.
Moisturizing creams and lubricants without hormones can also make sexual intercourse easier.
The green pharmacy has a lot ready to relieve menopausal symptoms. These include, for example, black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and monk’s pepper (Agnus castus). Ingredients of the plants are supposed to regulate the female hormone balance. Wild Yam Cream has been used for many years to help balance progesterone in the body.
Herbal sleeping pills, for example with valerian, hops, lemon balm or passionflower, can be used against sleep disorders. Important: There are also side effects and interactions with herbal medicines. Therefore, discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages of the therapy with your naturopath.
A healthy lifestyle is generally recommended – not just for women going through menopause. Those who eat a balanced diet, exercise a lot, avoid stimulants and ensure sufficient relaxation usually feel more balanced and can usually deal better with stress or complaints.
In the past, meditation or sinking into oneself was considered esoteric mambojambo. The exercises are now an integral part of behaviour, pain and addiction therapy.
Can you get pregnant despite menopause? Yes. With menopause, pregnancy becomes much less likely – but not impossible.
Whether men actually experience “menopause” as well, and which symptoms could possibly be associated with it, is very controversial. It is clear that the hormone level in men also changes naturally with age, but much less abruptly than in women. In addition, men can often father children well into old age.
Only some of the men show a definite deficiency in the sex hormone testosterone. Possible signs that may be related to this are less desire for sex, lack of drive, upset, weight gain on the stomach. The symptoms mentioned do not have to be due to a hormone deficiency, they can also have other causes.
Menopause can be supported by a healthy lifestyle and keeping your colon clean and functioning is certainly part of this.