Back to Blogs

Menopause- beginning or the end?

Menopause- beginning or the end?
by Hitha
byAnanya Chhaochharia

Menopause is the natural cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycle and the end of fertility. The average  age of menopause is 52 years, but can vary anywhere between the 4th and 5th decade. It is  characterised by the absence of menstrual cycle for about an year preceded by irregular menstrual  cycles. The peri-menopausal phase refers to the time before menopause sets in, which is around 3-5  years. However, the changes often start upto 10 years before the actual menopause.  

Now, with all this technical facts being said, let’s allow the news to sink in- no menstruation anymore!  We have been complaining about it all our menstrual life and finally it is coming to an end, so isn’t it  great news?! 

Well, it’s not so straightforward. Just like all other aspects related to women, it’s complicated! 

What exactly causes menopause? We know that the entire menstrual business is closely interlinked with  hormones. Estrogen and progesterone being two of the very common ones, which are secreted by the  ovaries. Now, there are 2 more hormones called the luteinizing hormone(LH) and the follicle stimulating  hormone (FSH) which are the key hormones for ovulation. As a woman ages, we can say that the ovaries  get tired of these LH and FSH and stop responding to them anymore. These ovaries also get old and  stubborn and stop producing estrogen and progesterone too. This leads to stoppage of ovulation and in  turn even menstruation ends. All this doesn’t happen overnight(obviously), the changes are long drawn. 

Menstruation seemed difficult due to the craziness of hormones, but brace yourselves because these  hormones are not letting you go so easily! Falling levels of these chemicals can also bring in adverse  effects in the body. It’s physical components includes hot flushes, night sweats, decreased libido,  irregular menstrual cycles and painful sexual intercourse due to decreased vaginal secretions. All these  because of the decreased estrogen levels. Problematic as it would seem, estrogen did have a protective  function in the body like lowering cholesterol level, conserving the calcium in bones and reducing acne.  And now that estrogen has gone down, a woman becomes more prone to several diseases which were  initially shielded by the hormone. Now you know, why bone demineralization is such a rampant problem  among the older women. Just like menstruation had a psychological factor related to it, so does  menopause. Most of it takes root because of the ignorance of the situation and not acknowledging the  problem. Many, if not all women, go through a myriad of mood changes. Forgetfulness is perhaps the  most common part. Though it is normal, incomprehension of it’s normalcy has caused many women to  believe that they were going through some serious illness. It is necessary to talk about it more, so that  women are more prepared and welcoming of what is going to eventuate. And ofcourse, a significant  component is the fear of losing womanhood, which adds to the already stressful process. This can  precipitate depression in vulnerable individuals and thus must be treated with love, care and support by  understanding family members. 

After all that women have gone through in the lifetime, menopause doesn’t seem like a horrid  nightmare, but an experience all the same. The problem lies in the fact that women are largely unaware  of what exactly transpires in the peri-menopausal phase, even if they do have a fair idea of the existence  of menopause. Just like we have young girls being terrified at the sight of blood during their menarche 

and jumping into scary conclusions about a deadly disease they could be harbouring, we have older  women being baffled by the episode they are going through. Women not being able to trace the origin  of these hight sweats and why they wake up sleepy and irritable the next day is not uncommon. The  sudden onset of forgetfulness can lead to a dent in the self-confidence of women and can open up doors  for self doubt. However, it is important to understand that this is a totally normal phenomena which  every woman goes through. We are all in this together. Both young girls and old women go through a  similar affair whose origin can be traced down to the insufficient knowledge on the subject. To talk  about it and share our experiences are the mainstay solutions. It is important to mention here that just  like the disparity in menstrual experiences among various women, menopause is also a signature to  every individual. On one hand, we can have the luckier population of women who do not experience too  many of these menopausal symptoms, whereas on the other side, we have women who could be going  through exaggerated ones. Medical intervention might be required in such circumstances. Estrogen  preparations could be given to compensate for it’s depleted levels, but it’s not free of side effects, so it  must be discussed through with your doctor.  

It is wrong to assume that women become less productive in their jobs after menopause. Women have  been working hard all their lives, what with maintaining a house and a family, raising children and at the  same time acing in their professional life too. For someone who has done so much in their lifetime, this  is but another challenge which will only make them stronger. 

To answer the question I asked before whether menopause is great news or not, the answer is simple. It  is what you make of it. Just like every aspect of life, whether you want to use it as a stepping ladder or  not, is always in your hands. Nature and it’s creations continue to bewilder us every time. Everything  that nature has brought into being serves a purpose and holds a beauty deep within. So does the  process of menopause. 

You do not have to look at it as the end of womanhood but a new phase of it. Make sure you converse  with your loved ones about it and that they understand what you are going through. Also, if you have  any woman in your circle who is nearing menopause, make sure you do adequate research and stand  

with her through this transition. This is not something to be ashamed of or kept a secret, just like  menstrual cycles. It is as normal as menarche, menstruation, as pregnancy and as motherhood. It is  essential to keep your self confidence above the torrential waves of the menopausal symptoms and the  stigma associated with it. It is of paramount importance to look at menopause as a beginning rather  than the beginning of an end