Besides death and taxes, women have a third certainty in life. That is, of course, menopause.
The intensity of its symptoms, its duration and the impact on your life will be unique to you since it varies from one woman to the next. But you can pretty much bet your bottom dollar menopause will get you, sooner or later.
Menopause and perimenopause
At a certain age, women gradually stop ovulating. When that happens, you become less fertile and will eventually stop having your period. This process is called perimenopause.
Once a year has gone by after your last period, you’ve reached menopause. This typically takes two to five years, but menopause can carry on longer, sometimes up to 10 or 15 years or longer.
While in perimenopause, chances are you will experience irregular cycles of menstruation. You may skip one or more periods, only to have them return again for a month or two, or more. The experience is different for every woman. A small number of women live with some symptoms of menopause until the day they die. Others hardly notice the process other than experiencing irregular periods.
Pollution: A silent fertility thief?
Women typically go into perimenopause between the ages of 45 and 55. However, some observers have reported an increase in younger women entering perimenopause in their 30s and 40s. They put this drop in age down to greater levels of pollution in our environment.
Among the pollutant culprits are certain petrochemical products, synthetic oestrogen drugs, soft plastics, pesticides, detergents, cosmetics, paint and glue cause, to name a few. They also argue that ingesting meat and milk from hormone-treated animals throw the natural production of oestrogen and progesterone out of kilter, which may be a factor in the early onset of perimenopause.
Of hot flushes and putting on weight
Some women breeze through menopause with few symptoms. Others are not so lucky and have a very hard time of it indeed. Symptoms may include irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats, problems sleeping, mood changes, weight gain, dry skin and thinning hair.
It is important to remember that you can get pregnant during perimenopause. If you’re sexually active and not using reliable contraception, you may want to consider taking a pregnancy test if you skip a period.
Postmenopausal health risks
Once menopause is reached 12 months after the last period, you enter your postmenopausal years. While the symptoms of menopause should ease off over the years, you are now at greater risk of health conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease. The best way to assess your overall health is to consult your medical practitioner regularly. A mammogram, bone density test, pap smear, colonoscopy, cholesterol check, blood pressure check and blood sugar screening are among the routine tests that are recommended for all women during their postmenopausal years.
By Linda Cilliers
The Content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.