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The countdown to menopause

THE prelude to menopause is often overlooked and misunderstood. Here's what every women above 40 should know.

Hot flushes, night sweats, sleeplessness, mood swings, lethargy, depression and loss of libido and more are common symptoms of menopause.

But wait, you have just celebrated your 40th birthday recently, isn't menopause supposed to happen only at 50 years and beyond ?

Shock and disbelief are common reactions when women in their late 30s and 40s are told that they are experiencing menopausal symptoms. what they may not realize is that there is a condition known as peri-menopause, the transitory stage when they are literally making a countdown to menopause.

The peri-menopause or pre-menopause years can be a bewildering time for many women. while they experience some or all of the symptoms associated with menopause, they are still having their monthly periods, although it may be less regular. Peri-menopause may last about four to five years.

The symptoms happen because the ovaries are slowly losing their ability to produce oestrogen, the hormone responsible for feminine characteristics.

Oestrogen also protects the bones and heart, so women after menopause stand a significantly higher risk of getting heart problems and osteoporosis.

Women also tend to believe that they have achieved menopause at this in-between stage, and assume they will not conceive any more. It is important to continue taking the necessary precautions until you are confirmed to have reached menopause, i.e. when you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months.

It also helps to change your lifestyle to reduce symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

Here are some useful tips :

> Exercise and maintain a healthy weight

>Learn to de-stress with yoga, tai chi, meditation or breathing techniques

> Increase intake of fruits and vegetables

> For hot flushes, dress in layers that can be easily removed and use cotton sheets and clothing to let your skin "breathe".

Your doctor may also recommend you start on menopause treatment early to get your hormones back into balance. As you are still having your periods and is not entirely menopausal yet, natural remedies may be a better option for symptom control as nobody knows how long it will be before you reach menopause.

Some of the natural remedies for menopause that have been used for generations include soy, red clover, dong quai and black cohosh.

In recent years, black cohosh has been intensively researched and has been clinically proven to be a safe and effective remedy for management of menopausal symptoms.

Derived from the root and rhizome of the herb, Black cohosh has been used by North American natives to treat various ailments particularly for women.

Studies show that black cohosh reacts with oestrogen receptors that mimic oestrogen in the body, thus reliving menopausal complaints.

Black cohosh is also known to help prevent or delay long-term menopausal implications such as osteoporosis.


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