Updated: May 12, 2021

A woman using a fan to cool down from a hot flush due to menopause

For many, menopause is a frightening condition that signals the end of womanhood. However, this change, although unavoidable, is not something to fear.

What Is Menopause?

Menopause occurs when a woman ceases to have periods and is no longer naturally able to become pregnant. The condition marks the end of your menstrual cycle, and is diagnosed once you've gone 12 months without a menstrual period.

What Causes Menopause?

Menopause can be caused by various factors, such as:

Natural decline of reproductive hormones - The most common cause of menopause is the loss of hormones. When you approach your late 30s, the ovaries start making less oestrogen and progesterone - these are the hormones that regulate menstruation and increase fertility. When you reach your 40s, menstrual periods can become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, or more or less frequent. On average, by 51, your ovaries will stop producing eggs and you will not experience any more periods.

Hysterectomy - A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your uterus (womb).This operation, which leaves your ovaries in place, usually doesn't cause immediate menopause. Although you won't have periods, your ovaries will still produce oestrogen and progesterone, and release eggs. However, a total hysterectomy that removes your uterus and ovaries will cause immediate menopause. The symptoms following this can be severe due to the abrupt changes in hormones.

Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy - Chemotherapy uses drugs, usually through an injection or tablets, to treat different types of cancer. Radiotherapy involves the use of radiation, usually X-rays, to treat illness. These cancer treatment therapies can encourage menopause to occur, sometimes causing symptoms such as hot flushes during or after treatment. However, the stoppage of menstruation and fertility is not always permanent.

Primary ovarian insufficiency - Around 1% of women experience premature menopause (menopause before age 40). Menopause can happen if your ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones. Often there is no cause of this, but it can stem from genetic factors or autoimmune disease.

What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

In the months or years leading up to your menopause, you may experience a handful of symptoms that are pre-warning what's to come. This process is known as peri-menopause, and the symptoms affect up to 75% of peri-menopausal women.

Menopause is a natural process, but the symptoms may affect your emotional health. In the months or years that lead up to menopause (perimenopause), you may experience:

  • Irregular periods

  • Hot flushes

  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex

  • Chills

  • Sleep issues

  • Night sweats

  • Reduced sex drive (libido)

  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism

  • Mood changes

  • Loss of breast fullness

  • Thinning hair or dry skin

  • Problems with memory or concentration

Symptoms are different for every woman. However for many, changes to your period cycle is the main indicator that menopause is on the horizon. Sometimes, menstrual periods will skip a month, or several, and then return. You may also note that your periods have shorter cycles, so they may become closer together. Despite this, becoming pregnant is still a possibility.

It's important to visit your doctor frequently during and after menopause, and you should always seek medical advice if you suffer vaginal bleeding after menopause

How To Relieve Menopausal Symptoms

When menopause occurs, your oestrogen production is significantly reduced, causing major urogenital atrophy. Urogenital atrophy involves the muscle mass within the vagina wasting away, as well as in the urinary tract.

This hormone deficiency weakens the bladder and the urethra, causing them to become less able to control urinary functions. A reduction in oestrogen also affects the acidity of the vulva and the vagina, making it more prone to infection.

In order to maintain and improve your pelvic floor muscle strength it's vital that you exercise those muscles daily with pelvic floor exercises/Kegel exercises to keep it in shape.

Strengthening your pelvic floor is a guaranteed method of relieving a variety of menopause symptoms. However, along the way you may need some help from the outside.

Other things that you can do to help with your menopause process are:

Supplement - A lot of vital vitamins are lost during the menopausal process, the main being collagen. This is the vital glue that holds the pelvic floor in place, but we lose it as we age. To keep your pelvic floor flexible and strong, supplement with collagen during menopause.

Use lubricant - The loss of the hormone, oestrogen, can result in vaginal dryness as the lining of the vagina produces less mucus. The urethra also undergoes a similar process. This dryness can not only put you at a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection, but it can also make sexual intercourse unpleasant and sometimes painful. This can decrease your sexual drive and activity. Using lubricant can help to increase the fun and pleasure of sex during menopause.

Invest in some support shorts - As we age, the bladder becomes less elastic and has more difficulty stretching. As it fills with urine, this loss of stretch can irritate the bladder muscles and cause it to become overactive. This bladder weakness can cause a variety of incontinence issues to you during menopause. Support shorts can help to prevent leaks and stress incontinence during exercise by supporting your weak pelvic floor.

Use oestrogen cream - Your GP may prescribe you with oestrogen cream if you suffer from vaginal dryness. For some menopausal women, the cream can be more effective than lubricants and moisturisers, but it can cause some side effects. Vaginal oestrogen is also available as pessaries and vaginal rings.

Maintain a healthy weight - An increased weight can put more pressure on your pelvic floor, which can make menopausal symptoms, such as incontinence, even worse.

What are the Problems Associated with Menopause?

After menopause, you may increase your risk of certain medical conditions, such as:

Urinary Incontinence - A loss of elasticity in the vagina during menopause can results in frequent, sudden and urges to urinate, that is often followed by involuntary leakage of urine. It's important to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to prevent this, by doing manual Kegels or using an electronic toner like the Ultra 20.

Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease - As your oestrogen levels drop, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in women, so it's important to maintain a healthy weight and diet.

Osteoporosis - During the beginning of menopause, you can lose bone density at a rapid weight, which increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. This condition causes bones to become weak and brittle, and postmenopausal women are extremely susceptible to spine, hip and wrist fractures.

Sexual function - Decreased moisture production and a loss of elasticity in the vagina can cause vaginal dryness. This often causes discomfort and slight bleeding during sexual intercourse. This can also impact upon your libido.

Weight gain - Your metabolism will slow during your transition into menopause, causing you to gain weight. You may have to eat less and exercise more in order to maintain your prior weight.

How Does Menopause Affect The Pelvic Floor?

Menopause can cause your pelvic floor muscles to weaken. These muscles are vital for supporting your pelvic organs, which means as they weaken you will be at risk of developing a pelvic floor disorder such as incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.

Weight gain can also have a significant impact on the pelvic floor during menopause. It is common to gain weight during menopause as your metabolism slows, however these added pounds put more stress onto your pelvic floor, weakening it as a result.

Pelvic floor exercises are vital during this period of a woman's life, and can be beneficial in a number of ways if performed correctly.

How Can You Treat Menopause?

Although the main treatment for menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there are things you can do and buy, such as Kegels, supplements and lubricants, that can help with your transition into postmenopausal life.

The decline in oestrogen combined with natural ageing can cause pelvic floor disorders in postmenopausal women. These dysfunctions include incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and sexual problems.

What is the Treatment for Menopause?

The main treatment for women during menopause is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). A woman can begin to take HRT to control menopausal symptoms. After a hysterectomy, a woman may only need oestrogen, with progestogen occasionally being added. This can be taken in a number of ways including tablets, patches and skin gels.

How Long Do You Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?

For each woman, the length of time varies. It is recommended that women who suffer from unpleasant menopause symptoms should take HRT to improve their quality of life. HRT is recommended for young women until the average age of menopause (51). This will help to prevent early bone loss and other health issues.

Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe?

There is a link between HRT and blood clots or thrombosis, especially within 1 year of treatment. Women starting HRT more than 10 years after menopause can also have a slightly increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Although the main treatment for menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there are things you can do and buy, such as Kegels, supplements and lubricants, that can help with your transition into postmenopausal life.

Click here to learn more about menopause and how kegel8 can help!

Check out what foods are good for menopause

You may also want to have a look at our guide to intimacy during menopause


Original article: Kegel8 Website

82 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All