Menopause

Menopause Menopause is a natural transition that occurs as women leave their childbearing years. As early as our mid-30’s, estrogen levels can begin to decline causing hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, mood swings and, of course, vaginal dryness. Over time, most symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats, will go away, but lower estrogen levels and its effect on our skin will continue for the rest of our lives. Vaginal dryness continues past menopause and tends to worsen over time.

Replens is especially helpful in this time of life as it helps to replenish vaginal moisture, attaching to dry, compacted cells and delivering continuous moisture until those cells are naturally regenerated (about every 3 days) This allows vaginal tissues to absorb moisture leaving them hydrated and rejuvenated.

For more information about menopause and related symptoms, read on:

Most women experience menopause as a transition that occurs over the course of many years. There are three stages of menopause:

  1. Peri-Menopause – 5 to 10 years prior to actual menopause when physical signs of menopause begin due to hormone fluctuations. Symptoms often progress from light to heavy during this time period.
  2. Actual Menopause – the day that a woman has gone 12 months without a period.
  3. Post-Menopause – Technically, post-menopause refers to all years of life following actual menopause. However, most symptoms actually occur and often increase in severity during the 5 to 10 years following actual menopause. Some symptoms may continue throughout the remainder of life.

Average Age of Actual Menopause (12 months without a period): 51
Typical Age Range for Actual Menopause: 40 to 58
Typical Age Range for Symptoms of Menopause: 35 to 65 (some conditions may continue for remainder of life)

Most Common Symptoms of Menopause:

Hot Flashes - Menopause affects the hypothalamus and its ability to regulate the body’s temperature. Up to 90% of women experience hot flashes which typically involve a flushing of the face and neck with the sensation of being hot sometimes with palpitations and followed by chills. Over 67% have hot flashes during peri-menopause and some women have hot flashes well past menopause into their 70’s. On average, women will experience hot flashes over a period of 3 to 5 years before they begin tapering off.

Night Sweats - Over 50% of women experience night sweats, hot flashes with drenching perspiration that occur in the night often causing sleep disruption. Over 30% have night sweats during peri-menopause and 42% reported night sweats even 3 years after actual menopause.

Insomnia/Sleep Disturbances - Nearly all menopausal women report trouble sleeping at some point during the transition. It can take the form of restlessness, having trouble falling asleep or waking several times throughout the night. Night sweats can also contribute to the problem. The problem is heightened during periods of hormone fluctuations and occasional sleeplessness may continue for the remainder of life.

Bone Loss - Up to 20% of a woman’s lifetime bone loss can occur in the years immediately following actual menopause (post menopause stage).

Irregular Periods - 90% of women experience years of irregular, erratic periods during the menopause transition.

Feminine Dryness - During and after menopause, decreases in estrogen levels can cause vaginal tissues to become thin, dry and less elastic. Without treatment, the problem may worsen and the tissues can become inflamed – a condition called atrophic vaginitis. Feminine dryness, whether mild or severe, can cause pain during intimacy and discomfort, itching and irritation even among those who are not sexually active. This condition affects over 25% of menopausal women and can continue for the remainder of life.

Vaginal Infections/UTI's - In addition, to the feminine dryness issues mentioned above, decline in estrogen levels results in an increase in vaginal pH. These factors cause menopausal and post menopausal women to be more susceptible to vaginal and urinary infections.

Minor Incontinence - Decline of estrogen can cause thinning of the lining of the urethra, the outlet for the bladder. This makes menopausal and post-menopausal women more prone to the occasional episode of urinary leakage. With aging, the surrounding pelvic muscles may weaken and can cause the problem to worsen and possibly become urinary incontinence. Up to 30% of midlife women have urinary incontinence, many more experience occasional urinary leakage.

Mood Swings/Irritability - Medical experts believe mood swings and irritability associated with menopause is primarily related to insomnia and sleep disturbances. Some women may not even be aware of the frequency of the mild sleep disturbances that occur throughout the night and disrupting sleep quality. Mood swings and irritability may also be related to a woman’s perception of hormone fluctuations and reactions to other incidence of symptoms. Nevertheless, many women, and their families, report mood swings and irritability as common symptoms throughout the menopause transition.

Resources: SIGMA Canadian Menopause Society is a good source if you want more information about menopause: http://sigmamenopause.com

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