Menopause is a natural biological process, which is defined as a complete year without menstrual bleeding for 12 consecutive months. Menopause is a natural part of ageing, and will be experienced by all women normally between 45-55 years of age. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and this marks the end of the reproductive years of a women’s life.
There are three stages or transition phases of menopause, which include perimenopause (when the body hormones begin to change before menopause, menstrual periods become irregular, menstrual flow may become heavier or lighter); menopause (refers to 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period); and post-menopause (refers to the years after the last period, when the symptoms begin to subside).
The symptoms of menopause can last for several years.Some women have no trouble during the menopausal transition. For others, menopausal symptoms can be severe and affect their daily activities as the symptoms may disrupt their quality sleep, lower their energy levels and affect their emotional health. Menopausal symptoms are different for every woman but the common menopausal symptoms include:
- Irregular periods e.g. periods that are shorter, longer, lighter or heavier than usual
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sexual activity
- Reduced sex drive
- Mood swings
Besides the reproductive function, estrogen also plays a role in keeping the cholesterol in control, slowing the natural break down of bones and regulating heart health. Therefore, it is very important for post-menopausal women to change their eating habits and get more physical activity as they are more vulnerable to heart diseases and osteoporosis.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet that consists enough vitamins and minerals, especially calcium
- Increase physical activities especially weight bearing exercises to strengthen the bones
- Maintain a healthy weight and stay fit
- Undergo regular checkups to keep an eye on cholesterol level and blood pressure
- Cut down on daily coffee intake to reduce the consumption of caffeine