Menopause is a Greek word ‘mens’ meaning monthly and ‘pause’ meaning cessation. So, it is the end of menstruation and reproductive life due to loss of ovarian activity and it is a natural aging process in a woman.
The age of menopause varies between 45 years and 55 years, the average being 50 years of age. There is a decline in ovarian function in the transitional phase before menopause, which begins in most women around the age of 45. That’s when women typically experience menopausal symptoms such as infrequent menstrual cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, exhaustion, mood swings, low sex drive, vaginal dryness, urinary bladder problems, weight gain, and decreased bone density.
“Different women go through menopause with different symptoms, so it’s not the same for everyone,” says Dr Jayashree Nagaraj Bhasgi, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru.
Role of Estrogen in Women’s Health
Ovarian hormones play an important role in women’s health, in addition to reproductive function. estrogen, an important ovarian hormone, it influences the adult skeleton during its ongoing regeneration through a remodeling process involving formation and resorption. Consequently, the loss of estrogen leads to a higher rate of bone remodeling and tips the balance towards bone resorption and this increases fracture rates.
Dr. Bhasgi describes the different functions of estrogen.
* Estrogens have action on cholesterol levels, in which it helps to increase HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol.
* Estrogen also protects the cardiovascular system in women through a variety of actions.
* Estrogen plays a role in regulating the secretion of the hormone insulin and thus in nutrient homeostasis. Therefore, its deficiency predisposes to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Women also tend to gain weight around the lower abdomen and around the organs. It’s called visceral fat, and it’s linked to medical conditions like diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and cancers.
* Estrogen has a neuroprotective action in a healthy brain. It modulates systems in the brain that are crucial for higher cognitive function, and whose deficiency is implicated in mood and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
* Estrogen deficiency is known to cause dry, dull skin and hair, and one may notice more hair on the face than on the scalp.
6 tips to prepare for menopause
Before entering menopause, it is good to optimize your health by exercising regularly and maintaining your ideal weight for as long as possible.
So, here’s how you handle menopause:
1. Maintain ideal weight
It is best to remember that metabolism slows down during this time and gaining weight is easy. The chances of arthritis and osteoporosis increase as one is obese.
Any exercise that one enjoys doing is good enough when done consistently and persistently. Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles are a must.
Weight-bearing exercise and resistance training are recommended to maintain bone and muscle strength to prevent falls and fractures.
3. Watch your diet
Taking care of your diet, eating a healthy diet low in fat and simple carbohydrates, rich in fiber and protein should be part of a healthy lifestyle. Having plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, nuts, and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids is good as it reduces the risks of heart disease.
4. Get calcium and vitamin D
One must make sure to take enough calcium and vitamin D for bone health during this period.
5. Do something to calm your mind
Meditation, learning a new language or any creative activity helps prevent memory impairment and mood swings and prevents stress.
6. Instill healthy habits
Reducing screen time, especially in the evenings, avoiding caffeine after noon and alcohol at night can help you sleep better. Also, stop smoking to improve heart health.
Family support during menopause
The woman’s spouse or children must be aware of these changes that she is going through so that they can empathize and help her at this stage of her life.
The healthier you are during this transition period, the more successful you will be in fighting health changes and disease when menopause arrives.