Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It generally starts occurring in the late 40s to early 50s and involves the cessation of menstrual periods and a decrease in hormone production, particularly estrogen and progesterone. While menopause is a normal part of a woman's life, it can bring about various physical, emotional, and social challenges. Here are some of the common challenges associated with menopause:
Hot Flashes: Sudden, intense bouts of heat that can lead to sweating and discomfort.
Night Sweats: Hot flashes that occur during sleep, leading to disrupted sleep cycles.
Urinary Changes: Weakened pelvic muscles and decreased estrogen levels.
Weight Gain: Changes in metabolism and the distribution of body fat may result in weight gain.
Mood Swings: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to irritability, mood swings, and an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Insomnia: Sleep disturbances, often caused by night sweats, can lead to chronic sleep problems and fatigue.
Bone Health: The decrease in estrogen during menopause can lead to a loss of bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle and weak bones.
Cognitive Changes: Some women report changes in memory and concentration during menopause. While these changes can be subtle, they can be frustrating for some individuals.
Social and Psychological Challenges:
Stigma and Misconceptions: Menopause is sometimes associated with negative stereotypes, leading to stigma and misunderstanding.
Workplace Challenges: Menopausal symptoms can affect work performance and productivity. Some women may find it challenging to discuss these issues with their employers.
Long-term Health Concerns: Beyond the immediate challenges, menopause is associated with an increased risk of various health conditions, including heart disease and certain types of cancer. In fact, the theme for World Menopause Day this year is "cardiovascular disease."
It's important to note that not all women will experience the same symptoms or severity of symptoms during menopause. Some may go through this transition with minimal discomfort, while others may find it significantly challenging. Managing menopausal symptoms often involves a combination of lifestyle changes and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
How Does It Occur?
The World Health Organization explains that for most women, menopause is marked by the end of monthly menstruation (also known as a menstrual period or 'period') due to the loss of ovarian follicular function. This means that the ovaries stop releasing eggs for fertilization. The regularity and length of the menstrual cycle vary across a woman's reproductive lifespan, but the age at which natural menopause occurs is generally between 45 and 55 years for women worldwide.
World Menopause Awareness Day is an annual event observed on October 18th. It was established in 1984 by the International Menopause Society and the World Health Organization. It is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting understanding of menopause, a natural stage in a woman's life that marks the end of her reproductive years. The day aims to provide information and support for women going through this transition and to combat the stigma and misconceptions associated with menopause.
World Menopause Day encourages open discussions about menopause-related issues, including its physical and emotional symptoms. It also stresses the importance of women's health and well-being during and after menopause. Health organizations, women's advocacy groups, and medical professionals often use this day as an opportunity to organize events, workshops, and campaigns to provide education, resources, and support for women experiencing menopause and to help reduce the taboos surrounding this natural phase of life.
Starting in 2009, October was designated as World Menopause Awareness Month by the International Menopause Society (IMS), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
A survey conducted by the Indian Menopause Society in 2016 aimed to understand the issues faced by women in India. The findings of the survey were as follows:
The average age of menopause for an Indian woman is 46.2 years, much lower than their Western counterparts (51 years).
The survey found a correlation between the age of menopause and the social and economic status of women. Women with higher socioeconomic status had a higher menopausal age, ranging from 48.1 to 52 years, while those from a poor economic background ranged from 46.1 to 51 years. One reason was that women with a higher body mass index had higher levels of estradiol and esterone, which resulted in delayed menopause.
Men Should Also Be Aware of Menopause
The Mooknayak spoke to Manisha Pote, who runs Yuva Mitra, an NGO dedicated to the welfare of women. She emphasized that the phase of menopause occurs in the life of every woman, and the level of calcium in the bones decreases, leading to immense tiredness and increased feelings of loneliness. She said the problem compounds if there is no one in the family to listen to her problems. She stressed that men should also be aware of when menopause occurs, why it occurs, and understand the problems associated with it.