Men's Articles

Menopause


Menopause

As a woman approaches midlife, in her mid-forties to early fifties, her estrogen production declines, she stops ovulating, and her supply of eggs runs out. This stage of her life is called menopause, or "change of life". The body never stops making estrogen entirely, but its production falls to levels insufficient to cause menstruation.

Even when menstruation has stopped, however, sporadic ovulations can still occur. Therefore, it is advisable to be aware conception can still occur until two years after menstrual periods have ceased. Half of all women will stop menstruating by age 48; by age 52, 85 percent of all women will have reached menopause.

Women who smoke will reach menopause 1-2 years earlier than nonsmokers. One out of five women will experience no symptoms at menopause; their periods simply stop. The symptoms experienced by the others can include hot flashes, mood swings or depression, dry skin, mild headaches, backaches, and fatigue.

About 49 percent will suffer hot flashes, and of these women 15 percent will seek medical relief because they find them so severe. Another side effect of menopause is an increased risk of heart attack due to lack of estrogen. In addition, postmenopausal women may find intercourse painful at times due to a decrease in vaginal lubrication.

The use of a lubricating jelly or cream, or hormones prescribed by your doctor, may be helpful in correcting diminished vaginal lubrication. Of greater concern is that all women do experience some loss of bone density at menopause. Estrogen is crucial for the ability of bones to absorb calcium from the diet, and as a woman's estrogen levels drop during menopause, bone loss increases.

This can lead to clinical osteoporosis, particularly in women who have small frames and lower bone density. Your doctor can answer your questions concerning calcium supplements, hormonal therapy, and the benefits of a balanced diet and exercise in preventing osteoporosis.

A study at Western New Mexico University showed that postmenopausal women who participated in high-intensity exercise programs greatly increased their cardiovascular endurance. Also, exercise increases bone density in women over forty, many of whom are at high risk for menopausal bone loss.

Discuss your situation and your symptoms with your doctor and consider all possibilities carefully before proceeding. Menopause is not necessarily a medical condition that requires drugs to survive it.

 

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