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Keys to understanding menopause: a practical guide for women

Written by: Cristina Rodríguez

Discover the keys to understanding menopause: its symptoms such as hot flashes and sleep disturbances, its hormonal causes, possible complications like osteoporosis, and available treatments, ranging from hormonal therapies to natural solutions.
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Menopause is a natural phenomenon marking the end of menstruation and reproduction in women. It is often diagnosed after 12 consecutive months without menstruation, typically occurring between ages 40 and 50. While menopause itself is not a disease, it can present various physical and emotional symptoms that significantly impact a woman's quality of life. These symptoms may include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, and other issues of varying intensity. In this article, we describe other symptoms, causes, complications, and available treatments for menopause, commonly experienced and discussed among women, to help women understand and manage this crucial period of their lives.

 

A. Symptoms of Menopause

What happens to a woman when she enters menopause?

During menopause, women experience a decrease in reproductive hormones, which can cause a variety of symptoms. These include:

 

  • Irregular menstrual periods: Irregular cycles are one of the first signs of the transition to menopause, caused by decreasing estrogen levels.

  • Vaginal dryness: Reduced estrogen can cause dryness, leading to discomfort, especially during sexual intercourse.

  • Hot flashes and night sweats: These are common vasomotor symptoms that can last several years. They occur because the decrease in estrogen makes the hypothalamus, the body’s temperature regulator, more sensitive, causing blood vessel dilation and excessive sweating.

  • Sleep problems: Many women report insomnia or disruptions in their sleep, caused by hormonal changes.

  • Mood changes: Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can affect emotional health, leading to irritability, anxiety, and depression.

  • Weight gain and slow metabolism: The metabolic rate tends to decrease, which can result in weight gain. On average, women may gain between 2 and 5 kg during menopause.

  • Skin and hair changes: Hair thinning and skin dryness can occur due to reduced estrogen levels.

  • Breast volume loss: Some women experience changes in the size and shape of their breasts due to decreased estrogen.

 

 

The severity of symptoms varies among women, lasting from a few months to several years after menopause.

 

How can I know if I am in menopause?

The perimenopause, the transition period before menopause, can last several years. During this time, the aforementioned symptoms may begin to appear. A definitive diagnosis of menopause is made only after 12 months without menstruation.

To determine if you are undergoing menopause, you can have hormonal tests with your doctor, who will measure your estrogen and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels. There are also home FSH tests available at pharmacies. These tests can provide an indication if hormonal levels have changed, which is common during menopause. However, it is important to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and the best possible advice, regardless of the home test results.

 

B. Causes of menopause

When does menopause start and end?

Menopause generally begins in the 40s and extends into the mid-50s. This transition period is known as perimenopause and varies significantly among different women. It is important to note that menopause does not occur overnight; it is a gradual process. According to the British Menopause Society, the average age at which menopause occurs in the UK is 51 years old.

This biological process is unique to each woman, and symptoms can begin years before menopause is fully established. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to bodily changes and consult a doctor for adequate support during this transition. Some of the main causes include:


  • Natural decline of reproductive hormones: As women age, the production of estrogen and progesterone decreases.

  • Surgery to remove the ovaries: Oophorectomy can cause immediate and abrupt menopause.

  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy: These cancer treatments can induce menopause.

  • Primary ovarian insufficiency: About 1% of women experience premature menopause due to genetic factors or autoimmune diseases.

 


C. Complications of menopause


What changes does a woman experience when she reaches menopause?


After menopause, the risk of certain diseases increases. Some of the most common complications include:

 

  • Cardiovascular diseases: The decrease in estrogen can increase the risk of heart diseases. Estrogen helps protect the cardiovascular system, maintain flexible blood vessels, and control cholesterol levels. Without this protection, postmenopausal women may be more prone to hypertension, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular problems.

  • Osteoporosis: Bone density loss accelerates after menopause due to decreased estrogen, essential for calcium absorption and bone mass maintenance. Without sufficient estrogen, bones can become more fragile and prone to fractures, especially in the hip, spine, and wrists.

  • Urinary incontinence: Loss of elasticity in the urethra and bladder tissues can cause incontinence. Estrogen helps maintain the health of urinary tract tissues. Its decrease can lead to weakening of muscle support and a higher incidence of urinary infections and problems with stress incontinence (loss of urine when coughing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects) and urgency incontinence.

  • Sexual problems: Vaginal dryness and decreased libido are common due to reduced estrogen, affecting vaginal lubrication and tissue elasticity. This can cause pain during intercourse and a decrease in interest in sexual activity.

  • Weight gain: Slower metabolism and hormonal changes can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. Estrogen helps regulate fat distribution, and with its decrease, the body tends to accumulate more fat in the abdominal area. Additionally, the basal metabolism slows down, meaning fewer calories are burned at rest, contributing to weight gain.

 

 


D. Treatments for menopause


What should be done during menopause?

 


There are multiple treatments to alleviate menopausal symptoms, ranging from lifestyle changes to hormonal therapies and natural supplements. Here are some effective treatments, including specific supplements that can help calm and improve some of the symptoms of menopause. All Days of Confidence supplements have been formulated by our expert in integrative medicine, Dr. Nara Nairi. Dr. Nairi used her 20 years of experience treating women in menopausal transition to determine which nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are most effective and suitable for alleviating menopausal symptoms. Each ingredient has been carefully chosen to ensure optimal bioavailability and sufficient dosage for lasting results. Additionally, none of the supplements contain excipients or anti-caking agents, resulting in 100% pure and effective products for wellbeing.

 

 

Natural supplements:

 

Detox Complex: Ideal for treating acne that affects some women during menopause. As estrogen levels decrease, androgens can cause more frequent breakouts. This supplement helps detoxify the liver with chlorella, green tea, and pineapple extract, purifying the skin, reducing bloating, and improving digestion by addressing the problem from its internal origin.

Serenity Complex: Designed to mitigate mood changes, stress, and anxiety common during menopause. Around 40% of women in perimenopause have depression symptoms, and between 50% and 60% experience irritability. This supplement includes ashwagandha and saffron extract, along with marine magnesium, which regulates cortisol levels and helps women feel more balanced and sleep better in about two weeks.


Immunity Complex: Focuses on maintaining bone and gastrointestinal health, areas affected by decreased estrogen during perimenopause. Bone density reduction increases the risk of osteoporosis, while intestinal disorders can be more common. This complex offers a high dose of vitamin D3 and K2 to protect bones, along with glutamine and theanine to maintain the gastrointestinal tract barrier function. It also includes the chameleon plant, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, providing dual protective action.


Radiance Complex: Formulated to improve the natural appearance of the skin, which tends to become thinner, more fragile, and less hydrated with decreased estrogen. This supplement nourishes the skin from within, using omega 3, grape seed extract, and vitamin E. These nutrients restore firmness and elasticity to the skin, help reduce the development of fine lines and wrinkles, and improve overall skin texture for a younger, healthier appearance.


Vitality Complex: Designed to help maintain strong and shiny hair, an aspect affected by hormonal changes during menopause. The decrease in estrogen can weaken hair, reduce density, and make it drier. This complex stimulates hair growth with active ingredients that strengthen keratin, such as methylated biotin and a complex of B vitamins. Additionally, it reduces hair loss with the help of Siberian rhodiola, a potent adaptogen. This supplement provides a daily dose of vitality for healthy, shiny hair.


Other Treatments:


Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Relieves hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and prevents osteoporosis. It is not suitable for all women and should be evaluated individually by a doctor.

Complementary therapies: Mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and acupuncture can help manage emotional symptoms and improve sleep quality.

Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers: Relieve vaginal dryness and improve comfort during intercourse.


Menopause is a natural stage in every woman's life, characterized by significant hormonal changes that can cause physical and emotional symptoms. It is crucial to understand these changes and know that there are multiple ways to manage menopausal symptoms to improve quality of life. Staying informed, attending regular medical check-ups, and considering available supplements and natural treatment options are essential steps to face menopause successfully and live it in a healthy and positive way. Every woman experiences this transition uniquely, so it is important to find the approach that best suits each one's needs.

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