Menopause is a normal transitional phase in every woman’s life referring to the years or months before and after the last menstruation; it therefore marks the end of a woman’s reproductive capacity.
The level of oestrogen drops and the production of hormones in the ovaries declines, becomes irregular, and finally comes to and end. The menstruations gradually become more irregular and stop when the ovaries cease to function. The phase usually starts around the age of 50 but can also begin as early as around 40 years of age or not begin until the woman is in her late fifties. Menopause can last from 6 months to 3 years.
The hormone DHEA which is chiefly produced by the adrenal glands becomes more and more important concurrently with the decrease in oestrogen production. People who are resistant to insulin (e.g. diabetics) can risk having larger hormonal problems unless the level of DHEA is kept in check through exercise and a change in diet.
The better the mutual balance between the sex hormones, the slower the drop in hormonal level will be and the less unpleasant the symptoms will be. In this period, a deficiency of progesterone and oestrogen and alterations in the ratio between the two hormones together with an overproduction of the controlling hormones of the brain can cause symptoms such as:
- Bleeding disturbances, hot flushes, headache, and palpitation.
- Dizziness, tiredness, shivers, and cold hands and feet.
- Drying of the mucous membranes, dryness, itching, or a burning sensation in the vagina.
- Pains in relation to intercourse, maybe accompanied by small bleedings or reduced sex drive.
- Thinner hair, hair loss, and trouble sleeping.
- Digestive problems, weight problems, and metabolic problems.
- Frequent cystitis and incontinence.
- Joint pains and a large risk of osteoporosis.
The following nuisances can also occur:
- Mood swings and irritability.
- Restlessness, anxiety, and dejection.
- Nervousness, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.
- Reduced self-confidence, depression, and a tendency to being easily moved by tears.
When the oestrogen level falls
When the oestrogen level falls, the body reacts with hot flushes. They are often the first, clear signs of the beginning of menopause. The skin temperature increases by 3 – 4 degrees Celsius (6 – 8 degrees Fahrenheit) and becomes red, warm, and sweaty – especially on the face and neck.
Hot flushes can last from a few seconds up to ½ hour – however the average length is 3 minutes. Afterwards, you can experience shivers, and possibly headache and palpitation. Hot flushes are most uncomfortable the first couple of years after the last menstruation. When the body gets used to the reduced oestrogen level, the hot flushes usually cease.
It is quite common to have a reduced sex drive. Vaginal dryness caused by lack of oestrogen can also be experienced before, during, and after menopause which can make having intercourse painful. Moreover, 50% of menopausal women experience frequent cystitis.
Particularly older women in the West are at risk of developing osteoporosis. The suffering has many causes and most of them have to do with nutrition. One of the causes seems to be a lack of the amino acid Lysine. Studies show that people suffering from osteoporosis generally have low Lysine levels. Lead poisoning can also be a contributory cause of osteoporosis.
In the West, ever since the 1940s, the sufferings of menopause have been regarded as an oestrogen deficiency disease and therefore, the symptoms have been treated conventionally with oestrogen and, later on, together with progesterone.
A society’s social and cultural view of a woman’s worth based on her age seems to contribute significantly to the occurrence of menopausal symptoms; a negative view generally causes more trouble and a positive view causes less or none.
Maya Indian women, who have a positive view of menopause which, in their opinion, releases them from the responsibility of their children and gives them more respect on account of their age and maturity, do not know of hot flushes and do not suffer from osteoporosis or any other of the known physical menopausal symptoms known in the West. This happens in spite of their hormonal level being equal to the hormonal level of women with menopausal problems in the US. 65 – 80% of American women of the same age have recurrent hot flushes.
Menopause indicates the woman’s transition to a new life free of childbirth and upbringing. The period can be a valuable time for personal renewal and growth in which you have the opportunity to explore other sides of yourself and life in general if you prioritize using more time and focus on yourself.