Menopause is a period that sooner or later affects all women and determines the end of fertile life and the beginning of a new way of facing and living one’s life.
This is one of the most feared moments for many women, also because so many myths and inaccurate information turn on this phase of life. In general, the onset of menopause takes place between 45 and 55 , but it can also happen before or after.
Part of a natural cycle
With very few exceptions, menopause is nothing more than the end of the female reproductive cycle that begins with the first menstruation, between 9 and 15 years of age.
From that moment, women experience the beginning of their entire fertility period until the menopause takes place. This is a phenomenon that occurs within three and seven years before menopause.
Menopause means exactly the last menstruation in a woman’s life. Continuing with the more technical terminology, perimenopause means the time span between the premenopause and the first year of post menopause.
The symptomatology related to menopause is one of the aspects of women’s lives on which myths and legends revolve . Some symptoms may be very visible, although not all cases are exactly the same.
It is estimated that less than 80% of patients clearly show those signs that indicate the onset of menopause. Some of the best known symptoms are:
Hot flashes, caldades and stress are the most common symptoms . Their origin lies in a deficiency of estrogen, the main female sex hormone, for which the regulation of body temperature becomes more difficult.
In most cases these symptoms occur from the beginning up to two years after the last menstruation even if, in one patient out of 20, they can extend beyond 70 years of age.
Night sweats and sleep disorders
Many of the symptoms not only occur in the middle of the night, but also occur suddenly, without any influence or regardless of the time of year.
This excessive transpiration in turn causes disorders in the sleep cycle and in rest , which in turn can cause irritability and a bad mood. Furthermore, many of the women who live in this phase can suffer from prolonged insomnia even without any relationship to night sweats.
This is another unmistakable sign of the beginning of menopause. The menstrual cycle can be very short or, on the contrary, very prolonged. There are also cases in which more than one bleeding period occurs in the same month.
As time passes, menstruation will become less and less abundant. Furthermore, menstrual periods will be more dilated until they completely disappear.
Another symptom of this all-female experience is vaginal dryness. The decrease in the production of estrogen, in addition to the possible appearance of pain and other discomforts during sexual relations can also affect, in a more or less conscious way, the lack of interest in sex or the decline in desire.
Female sex hormone deficiency can also involve joint pain; this symptom can degenerate into osteoporosis. This does not mean that it necessarily happens to all women who suffer discomfort in their knees or ankles during menopause.
On the other hand, drastic hormonal changes can affect the mood because they can cause irritability and bad temper. This last symptom, if it is combined with sadness and depression, can become a serious problem for patients and their context.
What happens if the onset of menopause occurs earlier than normal?
When menopause occurs between the ages of 40 and 45, this is called premature menopause . But if it takes place before the age of forty, one speaks of early menopause . The symptoms are the same, but specialists recommend special care during the postmenopausal phase.
Women whose menstruation disappears earlier than expected are also more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. The possibilities increase in smokers.