Menopause is a span of time, 12 months after a woman's last period. It is the years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms which are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause.
This transition often begins appearing at the age of 45 to 55. It lasts for about 7 years but many cases have seen it last for 14 years as well. The menopausal transition affects each woman uniquely and in various ways. The body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily. They may experience changes in their bone or heart health, their body shape and composition, or their physical function.
Signs & Symptoms of Menopause
Estrogen is used widely in many parts of a woman's body. As the levels of estrogen decrease, it could trigger various symptoms. Many women experience mild symptoms that can be treated by lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine or carrying a portable fan.
Some women don’t require any treatment at all, but for others, symptoms can be more severe. Strangely, The severity of symptoms varies greatly around the world and by race and ethnicity.
However, some common signs of menopause are:
- Change in period
Changes in the cycle could be one of the first signs a person can notice. Like, the period could no longer be regular or the duration of the period might increase or decrease or a person might bleed more or less than usual. However, these are quite normal. It becomes a cause of concern when:
- The periods occur very frequently.
- A person might have heavy bleeding.
- There are traces of spotting.
- The periods last more than a week.
- periods resume after no bleeding for more than a year.
- Hot flashes
A lot of women have hot flashes, which can last for many years after menopause. This may be related to changing estrogen levels in the body. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper part or all of the body. The face and neck may become flushed. Red blotches may appear on the chest, back, and arms. Heavy sweating and cold shivering could follow. Hot flashes can be very mild or strong enough to wake you up which are called night sweats. Most hot flashes last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes. They can happen several times an hour, a few times a day, or just once or twice a week.
- Bladder control
Women might lose control of their bladder which is called incontinence. They may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing. The first step in treating incontinence is to see a doctor. However, another cause for the same could be bladder infections which could also occur in midlife.
At the onset of midlife, many women start having trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Maybe they can’t fall asleep easily, or they end up waking too early. Night sweats might wake them up too. And if they wake up during the night, they might have trouble falling back to sleep.
- Vaginal health and sexuality
After menopause, the vagina often becomes drier, which could make sexual intercourse quite uncomfortable. They may also find that their feelings about sex are changing. They could find themselves to be less interested, or they could feel freer and sexier because, after one full year without a period, they can no longer become pregnant. However, they could still be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhoea or HIV/AIDS.
- Mood swings
Women might feel moodier or more irritable around the time of menopause. Although, there is no evidence as to why this happens. It’s possible that stress, family changes such as growing children or ageing parents, a history of depression, or feeling tired could be causing these mood changes.
In general, natural menopause occurs between 45 and 55 yr of age. In India however, the range of mean age at menopause reported in different studies appears to be rather young, between 41 and 49. This could be because of various factors such as climate and lifestyle.
Caring for Your Skin in Menopause
As we have seen, owing to menopause, the female’s body goes through numerous changes. This could highly affect the skin and lead to various skin related issues.
Some ways to keep them at bay are:
- Efficient hydration
After menopause, your skin tends to get drier because oil glands aren't as active. It is advised to give skin more moisture with a heavier cream. Skip long, hot showers and put on moisturizer while the skin is still damp. That helps boost hydration.
- Use SPF
Even though skin cancer and wrinkling are caused by the amount of sun a person soaks in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, a person still needs to protect their skin. This is because the skin may have less natural protection than when they were younger. So look for a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher, and wear it every day.
- Target the spots
Age spots on the face, hands, and chest tend to look more obvious around the time of menopause. It can be efficiently prevented by using a sunscreen every day. However, for existing spots, fade them with exfoliating products that shed dead skin cells, which can be dull and flaky. Skin-lightening products can help fade spots. Toners can also help even out skin colour.
- Do not forget the hands
The backs of the hands can lose moisture, collagen, and fat during menopause. That can make veins more obvious and skin more wrinkled. Plus, the skin can look see-through and bony. To reduce the look of wrinkles, use moisturizer often on the hands. Protect them from the sun. And wear gloves when doing house or yard work.
- Consume antioxidants
Collagen gives the skin its youthful plumpness and keeps the skin tight. As the estrogen levels drop, so does the collagen in the skin. Eating foods with antioxidants may help make the skin stronger from the inside out. Look for brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, it is worth noting that they get their colour from these healthy compounds. try to eat every colour of the spectrum for maximum benefits.
Stress can make the skin drier and more sensitive. It can also trigger conditions like psoriasis. And if a woman is stressed out, they might even forget their skincare routine. Yoga, meditation, and other stress-reduction techniques are usually advised to help them relax.
- Adequate sleep
Getting enough sleep helps the skin look fresh. Sleep can help prevent dark circles under the eyes, and it also gives the rest of the body a chance to recharge. Lack of sleep can change hormone levels and metabolism in many of the same ways that ageing does. So shoot for a solid 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye every night.
- Work it out
Exercising does way more than just tone the muscles. It helps the skin in two ways. First, it relieves stress. Exercise also boosts circulation, which begins to slow with age. The extra oxygen and blood flow can help the skin look brighter and healthier.
The onset of menopause could cause various changes in a women’s body which could affect them physically and mentally. It could embark on a new phase in a woman's life and could be quite overwhelming sometimes. If the symptoms of menopause tend to be severe, it is best to consult a doctor. Moreover, apart from skin, every other part needs adequate rest and care and should be done dutifully.