A) What is menopause?
When a lady does not have periods for a full one year; she has attained menopause. The average age of menopause in India is around 51 years.
B) Why does it happen?
Menopause happens when the ovaries (the female organ that produces eggs) stop working. As this happens, the female hormone (estrogen) levels fall in the body.
C) Does menopause happen all of a sudden?
No. Every woman goes through a ‘menopausal transition’ or ‘Climacteric’. This can start from 6-8 years before the final menstrual period. During the transition, menstrual cycles can become irregular. One can have periods more or less often than usual, or skip the cycle as well.
D) What are the symptoms of menopause?
Some of the common changes that can happen during menopausal transition and menopause are as follows (not all of them might be present in a single woman):
- Hot flashes and night sweats - a sudden rise in body temperature, lasting for a few seconds and then sudden drop with profuse sweating. This can happen several times in the day and even in night causing distress and disturbed sleep.
- Vaginal dryness, pain during sex, reduced sexual desire
- Repeated urine infection
- Leakage of urine when you a cough or sneeze (stress incontinence)
- Mood swings, depression, memory problems
- Fractures due to thinning of bone structure/osteoporosis
E) How can I deal with these problems?
Many of the health problems of menopause can be prevented by lifestyle changes. Further details have been described in another information sheet.
F) When should I consult a Gynaecologist?
Watch out if during menopausal transition you are experiencing pain/heavy bleeding or bleeding in between the periods. Also, any bleeding, or even spotting after attaining menopause should be urgently investigated. Also, you can consult your gynaecologist to know whether you are a candidate for hormone replacement therapy.