I am Dr. Jayanti Kamat, IVF consultant, obstetrician and gynecologist. Today's women have a lot of challenges and they work continuously to strike a balance between home, life and career responsibilities. Healthcare or self care seems to be very low on their priority list. In such cases menopause poses a tremendous challenge to a woman's health and life, so today we will be talking about menopause. So what is menopause and why are we talking about it? Menopause is a stage in a woman's life when she stops her monthly periods. Why is it so important to us? it is not a disease nor it is a health crisis, it is just a transitional phase in a woman's life, then why talk about it? today we are talking about menopause because the lifespan of women has increased so women will be spending more years of her life in a menopausal period, in addition to that menopause has certain symptoms it's very important for women to know what are the symptoms and how she can tackle them. Thirdly, menopause also poses certain risk factors to a woman's health.
Now, what is the age at which menopause occurs? In Indian women menopause usually occurs between the age of 40 to 50 years and lots of women ask me doctor when will I get my menopause, my periods are becoming irregular, am I in a menopausal period? Well, it is a little difficult to say, you can get a rough idea by asking your mother or your maternal aunt at which age their periods had stopped, so roughly you can get an idea it is not a fool-proof plan, but you can get some idea as to when you will attain menopause. But when do we say that a woman has attained menopause, when a woman periods stops for an entire year or 12 months, she does not have any bleeding or spotting in those 12 months then we say that a woman has attained menopause. The duration of one year is very important. A woman may have a few irregular periods before she attains menopause. Menopause is not sudden, it is a gradual change, then there are certain entities called premature menopause and surgical menopause. What is premature menopause? some women periods stops even before the age of 40, I see even young girls periods stopping at the age of 20 or 22 so why does this happen?
This happens mainly because of a genetic cause and such cases have to be treated. Then there is something called as surgical menopause, when a woman has her uterus removed or her ovaries removed. Now let us know why menopause occurs? we all know that the main hormone in the woman's body is estrogen, menstrual cycle occurs because of this hormone called as estrogen, so when the production of this hormone decreases or stops menopause occurs. Now what are the symptoms of the menopause? actually, some women may not experience any symptoms at all it is just a smooth transition they just stop their period and that's it and they do not have any other symptoms, whereas some women have mild symptoms which they can take it in stride and for some women it is a very turbulent phase they have a lot of symptoms and they are totally overwhelmed by such symptoms. Now the main symptoms of menopause are irregular periods either the bleeding is less or their is a duration between the periods increases or the women may get periods once in 2 month, once in 3 month or she may get very scanty bleeding, different women have different patterns that is one and secondly she may experience something like hot flushes and anxiety, palpitation, even depression, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, dry skin, loss of interest in sex, headache, fatigue, leg cramps and so many other problems.
Now how do we tackle these problems? first of all remember menopause is a transition and not a health crisis, a lot of women ask me whether we have to live with these symptoms all our lives, no these symptoms last for a very short time, it depends on you, you have to take care of your diet, exercise and include a lot of positive changes in your lifestyle so let us see how we can tackle few symptoms of menopause. One is hot flushes, hot flushes is when a woman experiences heat own her face, her cheeks and her temples, it is a very sudden feeling of heat which is followed by profuse sweating so the menopausal women has to know that such symptoms do occur and how do we combat it? she can just spray water on her face, she can sit under the fan, she can turn the air conditioning on, she can just wash her face with cold water, keep herself calm and avoid hot spicy food and caffeinated drinks.
Then there are other problems like dry skin. She has to use moisturizer, drink lots of water and keep herself hydrated. Problems like sleeplessness, anxiety, for all these problems women needs to focus on her life style, she should eat a sensible diet, a healthy diet, focus on exercise, exercise has lots of benefits. First of all whenever a person exercises, exercise releases lot of feel good hormones in the body called endorphins so these endorphins will help her in getting good sleep, getting rid of depression, in addition exercise also keeps the bones and muscles strong, it is not just the bones even the muscles have to be toned because in the part of the aging process the muscles undergoes lot of wasting or they become a little weak so exercise will help a woman to take care of all these problems. Now what are the supplements which she should be take and there is another problem associated with diet, lots of women complain of weight gain as well, now why weight gain occurs? that is because as women ages especially after 30s, her metabolic rate decreases so she is bound to gain weight either in very slow or gradual pattern. In addition, if she does not eat a healthy diet then again she will gain more weight, so the woman has to eat sensible diet include lots of fruits and vegetable in the diet.
Take calcium supplements now how do we take calcium supplements? the requirement of calcium in menopause is between 1000 to 1500 milligrams, so calcium is best taken in divided doses and what do I mean by divided doses? if the total dose is 1000 milligram she can take 500 milligram in the morning and 500 milligram in the evening, in addition to that she should not take if at all prescribed iron tablets, calcium tablets should not be taken at the same time as iron tablets so these are the few things which she can keep in mind. She can also include calcium rich foods in diet milk and milk products, ragi, sesame seeds and so many other Indian foods which are very rich in calcium.
Then there are certain risk factors which are associated with menopause so what are the risk factors, one is osteoporosis where the bones become very fragile and because to combat osteoporosis exercise is important and diet and calcium supplements are very important, vitamin D supplements can also be taken, she can take 60000 IU per week to supplement her vitamin D levels, if vitamin D levels are much lower than a doctor will advise her how to take it accordingly, Women have also risk of heart diseases in menopause because during menopause bad cholesterol increases and good cholesterol decreases, so how do we tackle this problem? she should eat a diet, low in salt, low in fat and include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, smoking has to be avoided. So menopause friends is just a transition in a woman's life, you have to welcome the autumn years of your life in a positive manner and the aim of the women should be fit at 40, strong at 60 and independent at 80.
If you have any queries about menopause you can contact me on lybrate.com.