We're embracing the menopause journey. Learn about the three phases, discover how hormones impact your well-being and what to expect.
By elenzia / October 13th 2023 / Blog
Menopause is a natural journey that all women experience, consisting of three phases: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. This complex process, closely linked to the essential female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone, plays a vital role in maintaining women’s health throughout their lives. Changes typically begin to manifest themselves around the ages of 45 to 50. During this transformative process, 75% of women are affected with menopause symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Oestrogen, for instance, is responsible for preparing the eggs for ovulation, while progesterone maintains the lining of the uterus for potential fertilised eggs. However, during menopause, these hormones can become out of sync, disrupting this delicate balance. It’s worth noting that the impact of these hormones goes beyond just the menstrual cycle, influencing various aspects of a woman’s well-being. The symptoms experienced during each stage of menopause reflect the intricate interplay between oestrogen and progesterone in our bodies.
Embracing the support of loved ones and understanding the nuances of menopause can help you navigate this period with care and compassion.
Perimenopause is the first stage in the menopause journey, marked by hormonal shifts, specifically the decrease in oestrogen – the primary female hormone produced by your ovaries. This transition often brings irregular periods and a host of other symptoms, which can profoundly impact your daily life. These symptoms can vary in their intensity and duration. For some, perimenopause may be a few months of manageable changes, while for others, it can extend to as long as four years, bringing a diverse range of experiences.
Here’s a breakdown of what you might encounter:
Physical symptoms – hot flushes, joint and muscle pains, and fatigue.
Cognitive and emotional challenges – brain fog, low mood and anxiety.
Sexual and reproductive changes – discomfort, vaginal dryness and low sex drive.
Sleep disruption – broken sleep (often triggered by night sweats).
Menopause is a significant life transition, marking the end of monthly menstruation when the decline in the ovarian follicular function prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs for fertilisation. The timing of this transition varies throughout a woman’s reproductive journey, but, on average, natural menopause occurs between 45 and 55. It’s officially recognised when a woman has gone through 12 consecutive months without menstruation.
We understand that menopause isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. Some women may face premature menopause before 40 due to chromosomal abnormalities or autoimmune disorders. In other cases, menopause can be induced through surgical procedures or medical interventions, like radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
As women age, oestrogen levels fluctuate, leading to menopausal symptoms usually settling within 3-5 years.
In addition to continued perimenopausal symptoms, let’s look at the impact menopause has on the body:
Bone health – menopause can lead to osteopenia, a minor reduction in bone mass, and osteoporosis, a more severe reduction associated with fractures. Regular calcium and vitamin D, through diet and supplements, is essential for maintaining strong bones.
Cardiovascular health – Increased risk of heart disease is due to decreased oestrogen levels, changes in cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and alterations in vascular function and blood clotting factors. Physical activity, blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring are perfect for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Mental health – hormonal changes, particularly in oestrogen levels, play a role in psychological alterations, including mood swings, anxiety and depression. These can be managed effectively through lifestyle changes, psychological therapy, medication and meditation.
Hot flushes – As many as 8 in 10 menopausal women feel sudden sensations of heat, sweating, anxiety, skin reddening, palpitations, and chills. Try to maintain a healthy weight and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods.
You can learn more about each of the 48 symptoms of menopause identified by Gen M here.
Entering post-menopause, your reproductive years have gracefully transitioned into a new chapter. Ovulation becomes a thing of the past, and the menopausal symptoms that may have accompanied you through perimenopause and menopause often start to recede or even vanish entirely. It’s essential to recognise that during post-menopause, your well-being can be impacted by health conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease. Supplementing with elénzia RESTORE can help with lubricating the joints for increased mobility. It’s a time when self-care and health maintenance take centre stage. For some, menopause symptoms may continue for an extended period, extending over a decade or more.
If you find that your symptoms worsen or start interfering with your daily activities and well-being, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help you explore and rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms. Your health and comfort are paramount, and there is support available to ensure you navigate this phase of life with care, understanding, and the right resources.