What Happens During Menopause?
Every woman at some point in her life will experience menopause. This is defined as the time when a woman stops having her monthly period, signifying the end of her child-bearing years.
The age that women experience this change will vary, but most women will begin menopause in their late 40’s to early ’50s.
Menstruation is driven by hormones; once that process discontinues, many hormonal changes cause a wide range of side effects as the production of estrogen and progesterone dips.
Every woman’s response to menopause is different, and the severity at which you feel the side effects of the changes in your body will vary as well. In this article, we’ll talk about what happens during menopause and what you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible.
What Hormones Change During Menopause?
A woman’s ovaries are the reproductive glands that store eggs and release them into the fallopian tubes once a month. They’re also responsible for producing the female hormones estrogen and progesterone—these two hormones together control menstruation.
As menopause nears, there’s a dip in the production of the female hormones and the ovaries no longer release eggs. When there is no egg released, there is no menstrual cycle.
The Stages of Menopause
Natural menopause in a woman’s body will happen gradually, over the following three stages:
- Perimenopause: This is the time before actual menopause begins. This period usually starts 8-10 years before menopause and is characterized by decreased estrogen. Women will still experience menstrual cycles during this time as they still release an egg and can get pregnant, but hormone levels are beginning to decline.
- Menopause: This is the point where a woman is no longer having a menstrual cycle or releasing eggs. This time is defined by a woman not having a cycle for at least 12 months.
- Post-menopause: This is defined as the time after menopause is complete. Most women enjoy a reduction in symptoms, however, the decreased hormones put them at risk for other health conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.
Symptoms of Menopause
Women transitioning to menopause often experience the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Discomfort during sex
- Urinary urgency
- Difficulty sleeping
- Emotional changes
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Joint and muscle pain
- Decreased sex drive
- Difficulty concentrating
Not every woman will experience all of these symptoms, some women even report experiencing very little as they go through this rite of passage.
How to Manage Menopause Symptoms Naturally
Menopause is a very delicate time in your life; it’s the end of an era and the end of your reproductive age. Many women feel a sense of sadness knowing they no longer have the ability to carry a child.
Unfortunately, unpleasant side-effects only serve to make matters worse. What happens during menopause is not usually described as pleasant, however, it’s a very natural process that all women will go through.
If you’re dealing with menopause symptoms, the best way to combat them is to take care of yourself and your body. Eating the right foods, getting enough water, and exercising will help keep your body and mind in check as you embark on this life transition.
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