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Menopause - Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatments
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What is Menopause?

Menopause is a series of natural changes that occur when a woman’s ovaries stop producing estrogen and a woman’s fertility ends. Menopause can gradually take place over time, or it can begin directly after a woman has a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy; which is surgery that removes both the uterus and the ovaries.

Symptoms of Menopause

When menopause is a result of surgery, the sudden drop in estrogen levels is referred to as surgical menopause. The body’s primary source of estrogen is gone at this point; as the body will no longer have menstrual periods. Some of the symptoms that are soon to follow are:

  • Hot Flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty thinking clearly

Women that are experiencing menopause as a result of hysterectomy typically have more frequent hot flashes. Woman that experience menopause naturally loose estrogen over a period of time, and women that have surgery loose it all immediately and have a tougher time dealing with the symptoms.

What Causes Menopause?

A drop in the body’s estrogen levels cause menopause to begin. This is when monthly menstrual periods will end. When a woman has not had a period for twelve consecutive months, she has reached menopause.

The second cause of menopause is by having a hysterectomy.

Diagnosis of Menopause

The time when natural menopause begins will vary from woman to woman. For most women it begins between the ages of 45-55, typically around the age of 51. There are three phases of menopause. Perimenopause is a transition phase that can lasts on average about six years leading to menopause. Menopause is medically confirmed after 1 year of missed periods. The following phase after menopause is called Post menopause.

Treatment of Menopause

Menopause is something that will happen to every woman. Since it is not something that can be “contracted” or “caught” the treatments are more holistic in their approach. Several things can be done to help cope with menopause:

Creating balance: Women have to remember that taking care of their own personal needs are equally as important as the needs of others around them. Having the ability to recognize a problem can help a person develop better coping mechanisms. Finding the balance between work, family, friends and oneself will allow a woman to maintain her self-confidence.

Evaluate levels of depression: Women previously diagnosed with depression are subject to recurrent depression during the pre-menopause phase known as perimenopause. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and can cause tiredness, weight loss, sadness or irritability. This can be triggered again during menopause in a lot of women. Herbal treatments to prescription medicines are recommended to treat this part of menopause.

Assess anxiety level. Various physical and psychological changes in addition to other midlife stressors can increase anxiety levels. Feelings of fear, dread or anticipation are common and can be resolved without treatments. Frequent feelings of anxiety may be a warning sign of a panic disorder. A panic attack includes symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or feeling like one is going crazy without being able to regain control.

These unsettling feelings usually precede a hot flash and can mimic or trigger a panic attack. This can be treated through the use of relaxation techniques, counseling, and stress reduction, psychotherapy and / or prescription drugs.

Mind your memory. Many pre-menopausal women report having issues concentrating or short-term memory problems. These difficulties often frighten women, who may think they have early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. While this is seldom the truth, studies suggest that remaining physically, socially, and mentally active may help prevent memory loss.

Seek additional help. Women should not try to self-diagnose and begin treatment. By evaluating symptoms as well as personal and family history, the appropriate health professional can provide the proper recommendations. Medication for depression is the most effective when used in conjunction with counseling or psychotherapy.

Menopause can also be treated through Natural Remedies such as:

Soy as it contains phytoestrogens. These substances are from a plant that mimics the estrogen the woman’s body produces. The best sources of soy are from foods such as tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and soy nuts.

Other sources of phytoestrogens are herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root.
Before any natural or herbal products are taken, it is important to consult with a doctor before taking them. It is equally as important to tell your doctor about all medicines you are taking. Some plant products or foods can be harmful when combined with certain medications.

How to Manage Menopause

Menopause can be managed through various life style changes, such as diet and exercise. Natural menopause lasts for several years before it is complete. Women have to learn to cope with the discomfort of the various symptoms.

Proper diet and being prepared for the journey through menopause is the most effective way to manage menopause.