What happens during the transition?
Whichever way you look at it, every woman will go through menopause sooner or later. The menopause is a natural phase that every woman has to face in her life. Menstruations become more irregular and eventually disappear at the end of the transition.
What is the transition?
A woman is born with many eggs which are in the ovaries. The ovaries produce hormones during the fertile period and thus begins the menstrual cycle, where the woman uses the eggs. During menopause, the production of the female sex hormone oestrogen decreases and the body says goodbye to the fertile period. In the beginning, the woman's periods are shorter and more intense, and she may also experience blood clotting. Then the menstruations gradually go away.
In fact, something similar happens which a woman also experiences during puberty. By a change in the production of hormones, the body seeks a good balance and can have physical and mental symptoms due to fluctuations in hormones.
What phases are there in the transition?
There are 3 phases in the transition:
- Premenopause: the period before the last menstruation, where the amount of estrogen changes.
- Menopause: the last menstruation.
- Postmenopause: the period just after menopause and the body seeks a proper balance again.
What changes can happen during menopause?
A woman usually experiences these changes between the ages of 45-55 and several changes can occur:
- Swings in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body. This can be accompanied by irregular bleeding, hot flashes, poor sleep, muscle and joint pain, mood swings, lack of desire for sex, depressive thoughts and headaches.
- More production of the hormone Ghrelin in the body, which can make a woman hungrier.
- The function of Leptin is affected, which affects appetite and satiety.
Contraception in the transition
Specialists recommend stopping the contraceptive pill during the transition because there is an increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer. However, the contraceptive pill can help with menopause symptoms such as heavy or irregular periods, hot flushes and sweating attacks, because the pill contains the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. In addition, the pill makes it less noticeable when a woman is in menopause, as she experiences monthly artificial bleeding.
When is a woman certain to have reached menopause?
If she has not had a period for a year after stopping the pill. A woman can use another contraceptive such as a condom or an IUD during that year. On average, a woman can stop using contraception when she reaches the age of 52, as the risk of pregnancy is still very small.
Begin and duration of menopause
Begin and duration of menopause
The onset and duration of menopause vary in every woman. The period between an irregular menstrual cycle and the last menstruation, or menopause, is four years on average. However, menopause is not over until a woman has stopped menstruating for a year. However, menopause symptoms can last from five to even ten years and the burden of these symptoms varies from woman to woman. The last menstruation is between a woman's 40th and 60th year of life and the average age is 51.
How can a woman herself influence the menopause?
- A woman is more likely to go through the menopause early herself if her mother did.
- The contraceptive pill can partly control menopause symptoms, but has no effect on the timing of the onset of menopause.
- A woman enters the menopause on average two years earlier than other peers if she smokes a lot (more than a pack a day).
- The postmenopause begins immediately after a woman's ovaries are removed and this can be accompanied by severe menopause symptoms. Menopause can begin a little earlier if the uterus is removed, but it usually does not.
- Natural predisposition (some women have a rare hereditary defect in the female sex chromosome).
- Seldom autoimmune disease of the kidneys e.g. Addison's disease.
- Past treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
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