5 Effective ways to deal with menopause and Gynaecologist approved tips on how to cope with it

Menopause is an inevitable, age-related condition that affects every woman. It is a new phase of life that may usher in a new set of challenges. Dr Dhaval A Baxi, Consultant Gynaecological surgeon & Fertility Expert, Motherhood Hospital, Indore, tells us how women can cope with menopause.
5 Effective ways to deal with menopause and Gynaecologist approved tips on how to cope with it
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Menopause is a time of realisation and reflection for most women. Afterall you are transitioning from one phase of your life to another. You experience changes in your physical state and your emotions. Your ability to bear children is impacted. Your social roles may start to change as you age. All these things can have a deep effect on a woman. The ending of your fertile years can bring a sense of relief as well as grief, depending upon the individual, but it is a phase no woman can avoid and has to learn to cope with it.

What happens in menopause?

Menopause is a natural process that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. If a woman does not get her periods for 12 months, she is said to have attained menopause. Usually, women go through this in their late 40s to the early 50s and this stage is the end of their reproductive years. 

The three stages of menopause 

As a woman ages, her ovaries start producing less estrogen and progesterone (these are the hormones that regulate menstruation). There is a decline in fertility and the periods become irregular. They may become shorter/longer, the flow will differ, and they may be more frequent or less. Eventually, the menstrual periods stop altogether as the ovaries no longer produce any eggs and you reach menopause. It is slow and gradual process that does not occur overnight. Usually, a woman goes through three phases:

Perimenopause: Perimenopause begins many years before you attain menopause. It is usually a period of 3-5 years when your hormone levels drop and your body undergoes changes in anticipation of menopause. Most women enter this stage in their late 40s but sometimes there are cases where women enter perimenopause even in their 30s. 

Menopause: The transition from perimenopause to menopause can take about 2-3 years depending on the woman. If you do not get your periods for 12 months straight, you have entered this phase. Here your ovaries will have stopped releasing eggs.

Postmenopause: This is the time in a woman’s life after she has attained menopause. Here the hormone levels remain constantly low and you can no longer get pregnant.

Menopausal symptoms

Going through these stages is not easy. Women suffer from many uncomfortable symptoms and they vary on a case to case basis. But most women experience the following symptoms:

-Irregular periods.

-Hot flashes.

-Night sweats and flushing.

-Vaginal dryness.

-Weight gain.

-Mood swings.

-Mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

-Urinary problems like frequent/less urination.

-Urinary tract Infections.

-Sore and tender breasts.

-Reduced bone mass.

How to cope with menopause? 

As menopause is a natural process there is no remedy for it other than coping. If your symptoms are severe and prevent you from doing your day to day activities, you should visit a doctor and get yourself checked to avoid further complications. Here are some ways of dealing with your menopausal symptoms.

1- Medications: Depending on the severity of your symptoms your gynaecologist will prescribe certain medications like hormone therapy (estrogen), vaginal estrogen to relieve symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. If you are dealing with mental health issues, they may prescribe certain antidepressants in low dosages. Menopause makes you vulnerable to serious diseases like osteoporosis, heart disease, UTIs etc. It is essential to keep your doctor in loop to avoid further problems and get the necessary treatment.

2- Dealing with hot flashes: If you are suffering from hot flashes frequently, remember to dress in layers, so you can easily remove clothing when you start to feel hot. Drink plenty of water and avoid spicy food. Breathe slowly and deeply as soon as a hot flash begins.

3- Meditation and Mindfulness: Any type of meditation and mindfulness exercise can help improve your mental health greatly. Menopause causes a lot of emotional upheaval where you deal with mood swings, anxiety, stress and even depression. Keeping yourself stable and happy is extremely important.

4- Physical Exercise: Menopause can lead to weight gain as your metabolism slows down with age. Regular physical exercise like walking, running, yoga etc can help you maintain a healthy weight and bone mass. Keeping your weight in check also avoids further health complications like heart diseases.

5- Regularise your sleep cycle: Insomnia is a very common symptom of menopause. Hormonal changes, mood swings can cause lack of sleep which can be frustrating. To regularise this, sleep in a cool dark room, try to clear your mind off thoughts by meditating a bit before sleep. Avoid using cell phones before bed.

The above strategies will be helpful as you go through menopause. This is just another stage of life like childhood or adolescence. With the proper support system and confidence, every woman can deal with it. 

By Dr Dhaval A Baxi, Consultant Gynaecological surgeon & Fertility Expert, Motherhood Hospital, Indore

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