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Menopause: The Great Ending of The Menstrual Cycle

Menopause: The Great Ending of The Menstrual Cycle

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The menstrual cycle – the epitome of the reproductive cycle, which gives birth to life and plays a significant role in the transition from girlhood to womanhood, is considered nature’s phenomenon, gifted to women (minus the agonising PMS symptoms, of course). And after decades and decades of operating the same painful cycle every month, a woman’s menstrual cycle decides to retire into solitude in the mature years of her life.. (great news, right?!) 

But do you know what really happens in this ending stage of a woman’s menstrual cycle? 

This week’s blog unravels the grand (or rather, long-served) ending of this extraordinary cycle: ‘Menopause’. Keep reading as we explain each stage of menopause and how you can prepare for it.

What is menopause?

As the word suggests, menopause involves the permanent pause of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is the period that indicates the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, where usually, if a woman has gone 12 months without her menstrual period, she is said to be having her ‘menopause’.

When does menopause occur in a woman’s life?

It usually occurs between the ages 40 and 50.

The female sex hormones - partners in crime

Before we dive in deeper, it’s important to know the two main female sex hormones- oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in a young woman and functions such as menstruation, ovulation and pregnancy. Similarly, progesterone also plays an equally significant role in the menstrual cycle, ovulation and pregnancy. They are indeed two hormones tirelessly working hand in hand in a woman’s body!

The stages of menopause

stages of menopause
  1. Perimenopause

This is the first stage that leads up to menopause. Perimenopause is the period in which a woman’s body makes the transition from having an active menstrual cycle to menopause (menopausal transition). Several changes in hormonal levels occur. In this stage, oestrogen levels begin to rise and fall unproportionately. Furthermore, menstrual cycles may either increase or decrease, causing irregular periods. Women may also have menstrual cycles despite ovaries not releasing an egg (ovulation). During this stage, it is possible for symptoms related to menopause, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, etc., to be present.

  1. இறுதி மாத விடாய்

Menopause occurs when the female body stops producing the hormones that cause menstrual cycles. These hormones include oestrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. A woman would then not get her period for 12 months consecutively.

       3. Post-menopause

This is the final stage of menopause in which a woman hasn’t experienced her period for over 12 months. The body produces significantly fewer amounts of hormones (oestrogen and progesterone), and women will no longer experience a monthly period nor can get pregnant for the rest of their lives. During this stage, the symptoms of menopause may linger around; however, they are less intense.

Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause

  • ஒழுங்கற்ற மாத விடாய் சுழற்சி

Due to hormonal changes in the perimenopause stage, the duration of time between periods may become longer or shorter. Also, period flows may range from light to heavy, while missing periods are common.

  • Hot flashes and sleep problems

A hot flash is the sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body. These intense feelings spread over the face, neck and chest areas and skin may redden, causing sweating as well. Often, hot flashes may happen at night, causing inconvenience during sleep.

  • Decreased fertility

During the menopausal period, a woman’s ovulation starts to become irregular. This decreases the ability to conceive. Although, it’s important to note that it’s still possible for a woman going through perimenopause to get pregnant, therefore if you are a woman suspecting that you are going through perimenopause and still have your periods regularly, it is advisable to use birth control until you haven’t got your period for more than 12 months.

  • Mood changes

A woman may undergo several mood swings, irritability and an increased risk of depression during the perimenopausal period.

  • Changes in sexual function/libido

As a woman’s testosterone and estrogen levels drop, it becomes more difficult for her to get aroused, and this causes issues with libido and sexual drive.

symptoms of menopause

Other symptoms

  • Loss of bone – Calcium deficiency in bones
  • Vaginal and bladder problems
  • Increased hair growth on areas such as the face, chest, neck

Not having it with menopause? Fret no more, we give you healthy tips to make this period in your life easier below!

Lifestyle changes for better management of menopause

managing menopause

Menopause is a natural process that all women experience once their reproductive cycles reach maturity, and it may be an uncomfortable experience for most women. However, here are some methods in which the symptoms of menopause can be controlled better to reduce its discomfort.

  1. Consume foods rich in vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D and calcium have proved to improve bone health. As a woman undergoes menopause, hormonal changes result in the weakening of bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Foods like yoghurt, milk, fish and eggs are good sources of these nutrients.

  1. Maintain a moderate/healthy weight

During the menopause period, hormonal changes, aging and lifestyle causes weight gain. This would increase the risk of cholesterol and diabetes.

  1. Exercise regularly

Exercise and work out sessions have been proven to improve sleep and mental health of menopausal women. Therefore, regular exercise may subside the sleep issues menopausal women undergo.

  1. Ensure a consistent intake of a protein-rich diet

Proteins help reduce muscle loss and increase overall body strength in women experiencing menopause.

  1. Consume foods abundant in phytoestrogens such as soya beans, tofu, flaxseeds

Phytoestrogens are a source of dietary oestrogen from naturally occurring plant compounds that have the same function as oestrogen in human bodies. Thus, phytoestrogens may play a vital role in hormonal balance during menopause and reduce symptoms like hot flashes.

When to see a doctor

It is advisable to meet with a gynaecologist if you experience

  • Vaginal bleeding after not having a period for 12 months
  • Recurring or chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Abdominal pain

These signs may indicate more serious underlying medical conditions that need to be diagnosed to begin early treatment. Every woman’s menopausal period is unique and different to one another. If you are experiencing difficulty managing your uncomfortable menopause symptoms, the SLMC-registered gynaecologists on oDoc will help you navigate them, providing improved health and well-being.

Sources

  1. Menopause – Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic (2020)
  2. Perimenopause – Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic (2021)
  3. 11 Natural Remedies for Menopause Relief, Healthline (2022)
  4. Menopause, The University of Utah (2022)
  5. Bleeding after menopause: Is it normal? Mayo Clinic (2020)
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All you need to know about Gestational Diabetes

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The Second Trimester

The Second Trimester

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They say there is no better feeling than the movement of life inside of you and that is the most magical thing about the second trimester of pregnancy. You can feel the life inside you. 

By the second trimester, you probably are more used to all the changes you have been experiencing the last 12 weeks. So let’s have a look at what’s in store for the next 13 weeks of your pregnancy. 

If you haven’t read our blog on the First Trimester yet, we’d suggest you start there and then hop back to this. 

When does the second trimester of pregnancy start?

The second trimester of pregnancy starts at the beginning of week 13 and goes up all the way till the end of week 26. 

So, what changes happen to the body during the second trimester?

Breast tenderness reduces, nausea begins to cease, and adjustment to estrogen and progesterone levels occurs. Other changes that happen to your body are: 

  1. Increase in appetite as your baby starts to grow 
  2. Aches in your lower abdomen may occur as your uterus expands to make space for the abby. This puts pressure on the surrounding muscle and ligaments, causing cramps and pains. A warm bath, relaxation exercises, changing your body’s position, or pressing a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to your lower belly can help ease the pain. 
  3. Increase in weight due to the increase in appetite
  4. The increase in weight can also cause backaches 
  5. Bleeding gums due to changes in hormone levels sending more blood to your gums, making them more sensitive and increasing the likeliness of bleeding. 
  6. Some women may experience tightening in their uterus walls for a minute or two (also known as Braxton-Hicks contractions). This is very normal and isn’t a sign of natural labour. 
  7. Further enlargement of breasts occurs as the mammary glands prep for lactation. 
  8. Congestion occurs as the mucus membranes lining your nose swells, leading to a stuffy nose. Your nose may tend to bleed more easily too.
  9. Some women may experience dizziness as the growing uterus presses against the blood vessels, reducing blood reaching your brain. 
  10. Unwanted hair growth
  11. Headaches 
  12. Increased Progesterone levels cause heartburn as it relaxes the muscle responsible for keeping acids in your stomach.
  13. Varicose veins may occur as extra blood flows through them and the growing uterus exerts additional pressure. 

Sounds a bit scary doesn’t it? But do not worry, it’s a few weeks of hardship for a lifetime of happiness. As soon as you see your little one’s face, all the hardship will be forgotten in seconds. 

It is important to note that these symptoms may or may not be experienced by all women, and the severity, occurrence and duration of these changes can change from woman to woman. 

 So, what changes does the baby go through?

It is said that the second trimester of pregnancy marks a changing point not only for the mother but for the baby too. This is when the fetus grows into a baby. All organs and systems are fully formed by the second trimester. During the second trimester, your baby will grow from around 7.5cm and weigh 30 grams in the 13th week to approximately 23cm and 820 grams by the end of the second trimester. Their heart moves 100 pints of blood a day. During the second trimester, the fetus begins to move and starts kicking. The mother can feel this, and it is known as quickening and trust me, this feeling is unmatchable. 

The baby grows eyelashes and eyebrows during the second trimester and it’s eyes and ears are formed so your baby can hear your voice when you speak. It is encouraged you speak to them to give them company. Their tiny fingers and toes separate and grow nails too. Development of reflexes such as swallowing and sucking also occurs. The baby starts reacting to external stimuli and starts interacting with the outside world while being inside

A fetus born at 24 weeks may survive in a neonatal intensive care unit.

If you experience any of the following, please seek medical help urgently.

  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bleeding
  • Severe dizziness
  • Rapid weight gain (more than 6.5 pounds per month) or too little weight gain (less than 10 pounds at 20 weeks into the pregnancy)
  • Jaundice
  • A lot of sweating

These are signs that something could be wrong with your pregnancy. You should speak to your VOG doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above.  

The second trimester of pregnancy is the best time to start building your birth plan. To know more about how to create your birth plan, click here. You can also consult a VOG doctor at any time and from the comfort and safety of your home via the oDoc app.

Source 

  1. Watson, S. (2010, February 4). Second Trimester of Pregnancy. WebMD. Retrieved January 11, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/second-trimester-of-pregnancy#7
  2. The Second Trimester. (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved January 11, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-second-trimester
  3. Second trimester. (n.d.). Pregnancy Birth and Baby. Retrieved January 11, 2022, from https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/second-trimester
  4. Mayo Clinic. (2020, February 27). 2nd trimester pregnancy: What to expect. Retrieved January 11, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20047732?reDate=11012022
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