Menopause is a transition between two phases of a woman’s life and occurs when a woman permanently stops menstruating (having periods). It is a natural part of aging and there are nearly 50 million menopausal women in India.
What is it?
Menstruation stops because the ovaries in women discontinue the production of two hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone, which have been otherwise responsible for the periodical monthly bleeding.
Due to menopause, a woman could have complaints such as fatigue / lack of energy, headache & backache, hot flushes, cold sweats, cold hands and feet, numbness and tingling of fingers / toes, excitability and anxiety besides difficulty in sexual performance due to dryness of vagina.
Although 30% of 40+ women suffer the symptoms of menopause in India, none would be able to escape its long term effects.
menopause sets in between the ages of 45 to 60 years; however, in rural Indians it could set in earlier. One-fifth of the women in India experience menopause before the age of 41 years.
Perimenopause is the 2-10 years stage since the age when the estrogen production begins diminishing, and lasts up to 1 year post the complete cessation of periods (menopause).
Postmenopause means the period following the onset of menopause when the periods finally stop.
On account of menopause there are many other disturbing consequences such as urinary leakage and inability to control its flow (incontinence), thinning & wrinkling of skin, breast changes, brittle bones, increased risk of heart disease, and even memory disturbances with higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The ovaries fail to produce estrogens and this is the prime reason for menopause and the changes due to it. Hence, taking estrogens is the logical answer to all the menopause-related concerns.
Although estrogens are beneficial for the menopausal women, they are not freely advocated by healthcare professionals on account of their potential to increase the risk of causing breast and uterus cancer.
Natural estrogens that are derived from plants (phytoestrogens) serve the same purpose as their synthetic counterpart without causing alarming concern.