Menopause – Changes in women
WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?
Is the period that symbolises the end of menstrual cycles. This is after a year of going without a menstrual period. 
Premature menopause: this is when a woman below 40 years of age experiences menopause.
Some causes include :
- Family history
- Didn’t have any children
- Diseases such a childhood cancer
- Medically induced after surgery
Perimenopause: this is the transition time to
Late-onset menopause: this is when a woman experiences menopause after the age of 55 years.
Some of the causes include :
- Having two or more children
- High intellectual score in children
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Decrease in fertility.
- Irregular uterine bleeding.
- Hot flushes, where skin temperature rises, and core temperature drops.
- Disturbances with sleep, for instance, having insomnia and night sweats.
- Urogenital changes, for instance, drying of the vagina and loss in elasticity of the vagina and urethra.
- Having regular urinary tract infections and symptoms of an overactive bladder such as having to go to the bathroom regularly, having drops of urine come out while laughing or sneezing or coughing, etc.
- Mood swings and may also develop symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Decrease in libido due to discomfort or pain when having sex.
- Bones may lose their calcification and thus increase the risk of fracture.
- Weight gain and redistribution of fat due to slowed metabolism.
- Eyes can become dry, itchy and develop more cataracts.
- Loss or thinning of hair.
- May experience joint pain.
- Osteoporosis due to the decline in bone density which increases the risk of fractures.
- Urinary incontinence as there is loss of elasticity of the vagina and urethra and thus one will have a frequent, sudden and strong urge to urinate followed by involuntary loss of urine.
- Being overweight as your metabolism slows down.
- Increase risk of cardiovascular disease due to the decline of oestrogen.
- Risk of a heart attack increases during menopause.
LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS [4; 5]
- Sensation of smoking as it may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or trigger hot flashes.
- Regular exercise for mood uplifting and reduction in weight.
- Avoid alcohol as it may trigger hot flushes.
- Eat healthy: decrease fast foods, decrease spicy foods, decrease animal products and restaurant or store-bought animal products that contain steroid hormones as they may trigger hot flashes.
- Regular doctor visits to monitor your blood pressure, vitamin D levels and test your bone density (every two years).
- Speak to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy.
- Dress in layers to avoid heat on the skin and avoid jerseys and scarves.
- Keep cool in your home by having a fan or aircon, putting a cold pack under the pillow when you sleep, drink beverages which have been cooled, etc.
- Therapies such as yoga, cognitive behavioural therapy, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques can improve sleep, well-being and vasomotor symptoms.
- Talk to your doctor about taking calcium tablets.
1. Office on Women’s Health [Internet]. Menopause. America: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; [updated 2019 May 23; cited 2019 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause.
2. Mayo Clinic Staff [Internet]. Menopause. America: Mayo Clinic; [updated 2017 Aug 07; cited 2019 Aug 14]. Available from:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397.
3. Botha, M.H., Matsaseng, T., Kruger, T.F. 2016. Clinical Gynaecology. 5th edn. Cape Town, SA: Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd.
4. Australasian Menopause Society [Internet]. Lifestyle and behavioural modifications for menopausal symptoms. Australia: Australasian Menopause Society limited; [updated 2019 May; cited 2019 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/1087-lifestyle-and-behaviouralmodifications-for-menopausal-symptoms.
5. WebMD [Internet]. Maintaining a Health Lifestyle in Postmenopause. America: WebMD LLC; [updated 2018 Jul 07; cited 2019 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/healthy-lifestylemenopause.