An English adage says, and I quote; “Sorrow is better than fear, because fear is a journey, and sorrow is at least an arrival”.
I have seen numerous women become nervous wrecks, because of fear of the unknown which is of course menopause. As we mentioned in part one, their fears are erroneously anchored on the wrong beliefs that menopause will deny them their womanhood. An English Professor told us that the axiom “life begins at 40”, was coined for women. It was assumed that at 40, most women have finished their child-bearing, and monthly menstruation, so they are now ready and prepared to give any man, a run for his money.
So at times, I play the devil’s advocate, by telling my menopausal patients, to look at the brighter sides of things;
● That they have dispensed with, monthly sanitary pads.
ν Fear of getting pregnant.
ν Done with rearing children.
ν Looking forward to becoming grandmothers. And
ν Now pursuing their chosen professions without distractions.
What are the symptoms associated with menopause?
Women with pre-mature menopause in particular, experience profound psychological and psychosocial problems. There are usually 4 to 5 types of symptoms presented by women with menopause.
1) Vasomotor symptoms
ν Hot flushes -feeling of flashes of hotness from all parts of the body.
ν Night sweats.
2) Atrophic tissue symptoms;
λ Vaginal dryness.
λ Painful intercourse – dyspareunia.
λ Vaginitis -inflammation and infection of the vagina.
λ urinary dysfunction/urethral syndrome.
λ Post menopausal bleeding.
λThin dry skin, dry hair, brittle nails.
3) Psychological symptoms.
λ Loss of concentration.
λ Poor libido.
λ Sleeplessness – insomnia.
4) Ischaemic cardiovascular disease.
Non-smoking, menopausal women rarely suffer from heart attacks or strokes, but however, within 10 years from the menopause, they catch up with the heart attack incidence of men. This may be due to decreased peripheral blood flow, resulting from long term oestrogen deficiency.
This is severe thinning of the bones. It is a major health hazard of menopause.
● Slender women are at highest risk.
ν These are in extreme cases. Most women trudge alone with nothing happening to their bones.
ν Women who a) smoke cigarettes. b) Drink excessive amount of alcohol. c) Take corticosteroids. d) Have a low intake of calcium. Or, e) Have a sedentary lifestyle are also at risk.
ν During the first five years after menopause – three to five percent of bone is lost each year, and after that one to two percent of bone is lost each year.
ν Fractures may result from minor injuries and, in elderly women fractured bones are vertebrae(leading to stooping and back ache), hips, and wrist bones.
Why are women afraid of attaining menopause?
a) ■ The many symptoms of depression, irritability, loss of confidence, loss of energy and agoraphobia, which are associated with menopause, scare the hell out of intending women.
b) ν Many psychiatrists are still researching, if there is a causative link between hormonal changes in menopause and depression in women, but they easily attribute these symptoms to the consequences of associated-chronic-sleep-deprivation or stress of early menopause.
c) ν Overall there is more depression in women than men when they attain menopause. Which is confirmed by greater number of prescriptions for anti-depressants in women.
d) ν At menopause more women attempt suicides than men.
e) ν During menopause, hot flushes affect 75 per cent of women. During a hot flush, the skin, especially on the head an neck, becomes red and warm (flushed), and perspiration may be profuse. Most women have hot flushes for more than a year, and 25 to 50 per cent have them for more than five years. A hot flush lasts from 30 seconds to five minutes, and may be followed by chills.
Now you know why women are dangerously apprehensive and scared of menopause.
Next week we shall answer the question “can menopause be delayed or prevented? And of course the management of menopause.
Keep a date with Sunday Sun.