Menopause: Easing transition to end of child-bearing – Business Daily
Menopause is one of the most defining stages in a woman’s life. For most, sudden hot flashes, mood changes and abrupt weight gain upset their normal life as the child-bearing period ends.
So when does menopause kick in and how can one ease the symptoms?
Don Othoro, the founder and CEO of Valentis Health and Dial Daktari says the average age of menopause is 51 but some women may experience it as earlier as 42.
Why is it important to understand and prepare for perimenopause, which is the transition period marking the end of the reproductive years and menopause?
“The more we understand what’s going on inside our bodies at all stages of our lives, the more we can embrace and support these transitions to be as smooth as possible, allowing us to live life how we want it,” says Dr Othoro.
Perimenopause symptoms, he says, start about 10 years earlier before a woman hits menopause.
“If you start your menopause at 51, you start having the perimenopause symptoms at 41, but we have different stages of menopause, the pre-mature stage, early and menopause,” he says.
Over the years, women have realised they do not have to struggle with these symptoms.
Having worked with women for 15 years on general health and skin care, Dr Othoro says consistent moderate exercises such as weight-bearing exercises [walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical training machines, stair climbing and gardening], strength and balance exercises, yoga or jogging go a long way in maintaining physical and emotional health and in reducing symptoms of the menopause stage.
“Lifestyle modification forms the fundamental preventive strategy at this age. If you were drinking alcohol, reduce the amount and adapt a balanced diet. A whole-food diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein and dairy products may reduce menopause symptoms.
“Ensure that you talk to your doctor to understand the symptoms you are experiencing. The doctor can prescribe vitamin supplements to prevent weakening of bones, for instance,” says Dr Othoro.
Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) which is the medication that contains female hormones, has also helped many. The medication replaces the oestrogen that the body stops making during menopause.
“We want to prepare women for menopause, this means their mental, emotional, physical body and the female reproductive system. If all these aren’t working well, they can have a huge impact on someone’s life, their self-esteem, and finances,”Dr Othoro says.
These biological processes can be modified to afford modern women quality life. Technological advancements have also made it easy to track the cycles and inform women of certain body changes to prepare them beforehand.
Every woman experiences perimenopause differently and that is why it is important they have a one-on-one with a doctor to understand every event that is happening in their lives.
“Women in their 30s too need to understand that ‘in the next decade I will be going through a change’ and learn how to deal with it. Perimenopause might start as early as 30 years,” he adds.
A woman’s body is designed to have oestrogen. When it drops, it comes with challenges such as brain fogginess. Women also experience irritability, depression, and anxiety.
Body hot flushes are also very distressing, they affect a woman’s social life. Some also experience palpitations, bloating, backaches, joint pains, and very stubborn belly fat, and sometimes become frustrated because they cannot lose weight.
There is also the shame and taboo that surrounds loss of desire and dryness, which affects relationships because both partners do not understand what is happening.
“If a woman experiences memory loss, forgets small things, they may lose their self-esteem,” he says.
To prepare for this phase also requires one to go through tests.
“It is important that women in their pre-menopausal years undergo certain baseline tests to determine if there are any underlying diseases,” advises Dr Othoro.