|What Menopause Means
MENOPAUSE, also know as the change of life, is the end of
the woman's menstrual period. In general, it occurs to women
from the late 30s to early 60s. Menopause starts when the
ovaries no longer respond to the controlling hormones
released by the pituitary gland of the brain. As a result,
the ovaries fail to produce the female hormones oestrogen
Many women experience symptoms of menopause and irregular
periods for several years leading to menopause. This is
called "perimenopause" and it represents the gradual decline
in regular function of the ovaries. Periods become erratic
in spacing and amount.
Every woman has a different menopause experience. The
transition is gradual and accompanied by a range of
* Hot flushes and sweating - occurs when the automatic
controls of the nervous system become erratic. This triggers
the blood vessels to open and signals the sweat glands to be
* Sleep disturbance - this may include problems falling asleep,
restlessness or night-time sweat. Some women sweat so
heavily that they need to change the sheet at night.
* Psychological changes - mood swings, depression,
tiredness, headaches, absent-minded and irritability. These
changes are distressing to yourself and the people around
* Physical changes - skin becomes thinner and losses
elasticity. The lack of oestrogen will mean that the glands
do not produce as much lubrication and at the same time,
affects the bladder. The falling level will also cause
unfavourable changes in cholesterol and fat levels in the
blood. This will also cause a gradual rise in the risk of
heart attack and stroke.
* Osteoporosis - thinning of the bone is also associated
with menopause. Oestrogen normally stimulates the
bone-building cells. Women tend to lose bone mass and
strength for several years following menopause. Ultimately,
this can make the bones more like to collapse or fracture.
How to make menopause easier?
Menopause is not an easy part of life. Neither will the
right attitude make it a joyous part of it. However,
according to Fitness First experts, certain actions can make
life generally better and menopause, an easier stage to go
* Regular exercise such as walking for 20-30 minutes
for three or four times a week can improve your health
and add years to your life. Exercise strengthens your
bones; increases wellbeing and can help make sleeping
* Eating the right food is also important. For
healthy bones, the body needs about 500mg calcium each
day from dairy products.
* Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as these
provide the necessary minerals and vitamins for good
general health and also help to protect against cancer
and heart disease.
* Soy flour or other foods rich in "plant oestrogen"
can reduce menopausal flushing.
* Smoking is never good for health. The biggest
single move anyone can take to improve health is to stop