Did you know that in Mexico there are more than 7.5 million women in menopause? This number is still growing up. For many women, this stage of life is troublesome, complicated, or awkward. However, it’s important to recognize that menopause is a natural part of women’s reproductive cycle. This stage of women’s reproductive life can’t be delayed, nevertheless, it can be more bearable if you know what is going on with your body. Coping with these symptoms can give women a hard time, making it important to have the proper knowledge of this life period.
What is menopause?
Menopause literally means “when the menstrual cycles stop” and never return after a year. The menopausal transition is a natural process that normally occurs at 45 to 50 years old. With menopausal transition many symptoms such as hot flashes, irregular menstrual periods, vaginal dryness, diminishing sexual desire, and others like cognitive impairment start. These aforementioned symptoms continue when you properly enter menopause, which occurs after a year of your last menstrual cycle.
In this stage of women’s reproductive life the ovaries (endocrine glands) which normally produce estrogen (women’s main sexual hormone) stops its function, this leads to all symptoms associated with menopause.
One of the most troublesome symptoms associated with menopausal transition and menopause are the hot flashes. This symptom (hot flashes) can happen even in cold weather as many women describe them as a heat sensation in all of her bodies that cause sweating. Hot flashes can be bothersome and socially disturbing for many women but specially those whose jobs implies meetings.
These hot flashes are the sole indication for giving hormone replacement therapy.
This hormone replacement therapy uses estrogen as the main pharmacologic choice, nevertheless, if you choose to start hormone replacement therapy it must be prescribed by a board certified Gynecologist, for it is not recommended to all women with menopausal transition, menopause or for treating all of the symptoms.
It is important to state that not all women may experience the same symptoms. Even some women don’t seem to have any symptoms at all, while others may experience some severe and uncomfortable symptoms such as the hot flashes. The symptoms usually start at the menopausal transition, and can be such as vaginal dryness, diminished sexual desire, hot flashes. Difficulty in sleeping is one controversial symptom, because it can be associated with hot flashes and not necessarily with circadian cycle disorder. The approach to the symptoms may need the assessment of not only a board certified gynecologist but other medical specialists, such as a rheumatologist to treat the diminished bone mineral density and a psychiatrist to manage sleep cycle disorders not associated with hot flashes.
When to see a doctor?
You may want to consult your Gynecologist every once a year (in some cases more frequent than that) to get proper surveillance not only to treat bothersome symptoms but to get some important routine studies such as a Pap smear, mammography scan, and bone densitometry. Remember that nowadays it is more and more important to get proper medical surveillance, for many cancers seem to be increasing in frequency such as endometrial and breast cancer.
How can I cope with menopause?
The first thing you should know about is that you are not alone, many women experience these troublesome symptoms along with you. As an auxiliary relief for hot flashes you may want to wear light dresses, exercise and a healthy diet may also aid.
You must also know that nowadays if you get the proper therapy by a board certified gynecologist you may get through menopause transition or menopause symptoms as smooth as day in the park! Remember that symptoms such as diminished sexual desire can be managed with pharmacological interventions. Other symptoms as hot flashes may also be amenable to treatment. Nowadays you may not need to suffer each and every menopausal symptom, but remember to always get proper medical advice from a professional board certified Gynecologist.
With the collaboration of Dr. Andres T. Flores y Flores, obstetrician gynecologist. Graduated from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he also successfully completed his Bachelor’s Degree as a Surgeon. He has 20 years of experience where he has focused on endometriosis care and minimally invasive gynecological surgery, among others.