Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when she stops having menstrual periods. All women who live long enough should eventually experience menopause. The official start of menopause is declared when a woman has gone twelve consecutive months without a menstrual period. The average age for menopause is 51. During menopause, a woman’s hormone production drops below the level required to continue her periods. For instance; during menstruation, female sex hormones (like estrogen and progesterone) rise and fall with regularity. At the time of menopause, the cessation of menstrual periods changes the rate and patterns of hormone release.
Good or bad, menopausal symptoms are not the same for every woman, and as already known for many women, menopausal symptoms can be very uncomfortable. So, while some women might welcome the end to their monthly cycles (because of uncomfortable bloating, and many other inconveniences) others suffer it, because they find menopause to be a factor which decreases their sexual libido, changes their mood, causes hot flashes, and sometimes can even mean a start to bone and heart complications.
The Menopause Symptoms
Menopause symptoms can be divided into physical, sexual and psychological symptoms.
1. Physical Symptoms
Some of the very popular or most common symptoms are:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Joint aches
A high 50 to 75 percent of women in the U.S. experience hot flashes during menopause. Even when hot flashes can be very passive, for the majority of women who suffer them they tend to be so bad to make them sweat making night sleep very uncomfortable and sometimes impossible. Hot flashes, night sweats, and headaches are usually related. As all menopausal symptoms, they are a hormonal-related symptom that happens when the blood vessels in the skin of the head and neck open widely, which in result makes more blood shift into the area, therefore creating body heat and redness.
2. Psychological Symptoms
Psychological menopause refers to symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. This symptoms are supposed to be a result of hormonal change (hormonal misbalances), however, day- to- day preoccupations add to this symptoms, and life-style (diet, exercise) also have a strong influence to those who may suffer them.
3. Sexual Symptoms
Again, sexual problems, like all other menopause problems, are related to hormonal misbalances (lower estrogen levels) resulting in vaginal dryness and therefore, discomfort during intercourse. However, it is not only the physical pain what decreases the patient (women) sexual desire. Stress, headaches, and the mixture of all symptoms (sometimes weight gain) make sex less desirable for the menopause sufferer.
For our body, when it comes to circulation, nerve transmission, and cell division; the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are the responsible factors that affect their functions. Therefore, an imbalance of these hormones immediately leads to changes in our sexual response. Declining estrogen levels common to the menopausal years can numb nerve impulses during sex, which make women less sensitive to vibration and touch. Furthermore, it is estrogens what increases blood flow to sexually sensitive areas, hence decreased levels can slow or diminish the arousal response.
The main factor needed for a normal sex drive is the right balance of estrogen to progesterone. The excess of these hormones interrupts thyroid function and inhibits libido. When well balanced, these hormones are able to support thyroid function which in consequence enhances libido. What is more, progesterone is needed for the production of estrogen and testosterone, so this is another hormone we need to have in mind, which needs to be well balanced, to increase our sexual pleasure.
Other substances that can alter our sexual libido are testosterone and DHEA. These substance’s levels gradually decline in the years leading to menopause and can drop dramatically with hysterectomy, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
Somehow, all symptoms interact, and end up adding to each other. For instance, stress produces headaches, anxiety produces stress, and stress help decrease sexual desire. All symptoms seem to make each symptom worst, therefore the intake of certain drugs alone will not completely aid the patient. A change in life-style, starting by a very healthy diet, exercise, and the development of relaxing activities, are needed to attack all symptoms, and so be able to get rid of all of them.
For women with strong symptoms HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or ERT (estrogen replacement therapy) is usually recommended by many physicians.
Unfortunately, many of these treatments have proven to worsen heart problems and to later produce many other negative effects in women. When it comes to these kinds of treatments, the fact to take on consideration is to assess the women’s risk for developing diseases associated with menopause (especially cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis). Women at high risk for these diseases are immediately discouraged to follow them, along with natural therapies to treat the more benign symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness and low libido. Most are candidates for entirely natural treatment plans; but it is always recommended that they are supervised by their physicians.
When it comes to natural supplements, many women are using what they are called “Phyto Estrogens” (like Dong Quai and Black Cohosh); our recommended natural hormonal balancer Peruvian-Maca has also proven to be an excellent option when trying to get rid of uncomfortable hot flashes, being a natural hormonal balancer rich in vitamins and other nutrients. Furthermore, a balanced nutrition and relaxation exercises like yoga or a constant mild cardio workout are a “must do” for all women looking towards menopausal symptoms relief.
The most important factor when looking towards menopausal symptoms relief is to change your life-style. The addition of natural dietary supplements is very important and perhaps a start, but it needs to be accompanied by the intake of healthy foods, the suppression of certain hormones (found in certain meats, vegetables and dairy foods, look for organic options to avoid them), the implementation of continuous exercise (if you are not very active, even the mildest form, like 30 minutes daily walks, can make a difference), and finally the addition of distressing activities to help you distract and decrease stress and anxiety.