Menopause Overview

What is menopause?

Menopause signifies the beginning of a period of female health when functional eggs are no longer being produced. There are roughly 1 to 3 million functioning eggs within the ovaries at the time of a woman’s birth. This number goes down to about 400,000 by the time she hits puberty. Less than 10,000 functioning eggs remain when a woman enters menopause. While some of the eggs are lost during monthly ovulation, much more are lost through a process referred to as atresia. Undeveloped ovaries deteriorate and are then re-absorbed into the woman’s body, this is ovarian follicle atresia. As menopause begins to approach, eggs being produced are also resistant to FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormones. Additionally, the ovaries begin to severely reduce estrogen production and testosterone production goes down as well. All these fluctuations combined tend to cause the unwanted symptoms associated with menopause.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

While many women can experience no symptoms at all, several women go through very unpleasant symptoms as menopause begins. Symptoms can also vary from woman to woman, but the most common include:

  • Anxiety and mood fluctuations

  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats

  • Irritability

  • Vaginal Dryness

 

What treatments are used to minimize symptoms?

A woman’s everyday life can be interrupted by menopausal symptoms when the fluctuations are very severe. There are many options available which can assist to eliminate or lessen the symptoms. Options typically include:

  • Lifestyle changes- Exercise and diet can help keep the woman in good health and also helps her to avoid triggers for symptoms such as spicy foods and caffeine which encourage bouts of hot flashes and night sweats.

  • Alternative Therapies- Meditation, relaxation techniques, and acupuncture can greatly minimize symptoms. Herbal treatments can also be effective. Always consult the physician before beginning these treatments.

  • Prescription Medications- Hormone replacement is a frequently used for menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are recommended. For women who have undergone a hysterectomy and has had their ovaries removed, estrogen alone is used.

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