Firstly, let’s start with the definition of some key terms:
Puberty: A period of sexual maturity in adolescents.
Menarche: The first menstrual experience in a human female. It is also seen as central/focal event in Puberty and a mark of possible fertility.
Peri-menopause: A set of symptoms that are experienced three to five years before Menopause, This is due to sharp reduction in the production of the two major female sex hormones; Estrogen and Progesterone.
Menopause: ‘A pause in menstruation’. At this stage, there is a decline in fertility.
Menarche and Menopause: Menarche and menopause is the greatest twin hormonal and physical landmark in a human female’s life. These events define the start and the cessation of a woman’s reproductive cycle respectively. They are not restricted to any race, creed, colour, tongue or tribe; they are universal.
MENOPAUSE: After reading the above definitions of some key terms, it will be understood that menopause is not a disease or a medical condition, but a life-changing transformation that every human female will live through as part of puberty with the first menstrual flow termed as Menarche.
But then, ‘for everything that has a beginning, there must be an end.’
Mensuration signals and starts off the reproductive life of a woman, while menopause ends it. These two stages in life unfortunately come with a lot of discomfiting symptoms.
These symptoms are due to a complex interplay of female hormones, majorly estrogen and progesterone. While they are in abundance at puberty, they are drastically reduced at Menopause. For some women, menopause is a huge relief and a time of rest from the monthly flow, anaemia and birth control pills, while for some others, it is usually more trouble than they bargained for. These set of women may need psychological, nutritional, physical or even medical support to help them cope.
Symptoms experienced during Peri-menopause and at menopause include;
- Irregular periods
- Reduced fertility
- Vaginal dryness, leading to pain during intercourse
- Thinning of the vaginal walls
- Hot flashes, or a sudden feeling of heat in the upper body that may spread.
- The heart rate may suddenly increase (tachycardia), or it may become irregular or stronger than usual (palpitations)
- Night sweats, or when a hot flash happens in bed and disturbed sleep
- Urinary problems, such as urinary tract infections, more frequent needs to urinate or potentially the start of overactive bladder syndrome;
- Moodiness, which often goes hand-in-hand with sleep disturbances; problems focusing and learning, such as short-term memory problems, difficulty concentrating of difficulties in learning;
- Osteoporosis, or bone loss from calcium loss, due to the lack of estrogen during menopause;
- Fat build-up in the abdomen
- Hair loss and reduced breast size.
It is noteworthy that most of the above symptoms will disappear after two to five years without any treatments in majority of women, but for a smaller percentage it may linger for a while longer.
Being a natural process of life, menopause should not be seen as a menace. Knowing what to expect as the likely symptoms of menopause is important so that one can be prepared for it the same way preparation is made for menstruation. This preparation should start at the Peri-menopausal stage.
The following lifestyle modifications or measures will help alleviate the symptoms and make menopause less of a ‘menace’:
- Diet; eat food with good source of phytoestrogens such as food rich in soy products, whole grains (oats, brown rice etc.), lentils and legumes like beans. This will help in reducing hot flushes, since the phytoestrogens tend to mimic the human estrogen in the body.
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods; this will also help to handle hot flushes.
- Make your environment as airy as airy as is possible.
Put on light clothing’s or clothes made from breathable fabrics.
- Learn to keep cool drinks handy.
- Take calcium and evening primrose oil supplements.
- Start some exercise routine especially dance and Yoga.
- Use water-based lubricants during sex.
- See a doctor if symptoms are severe and not abating for likely menopause hormone therapy
Agbomma Esomibe is a Community Pharmacist with experience of almost two decade.
She is the MD/CEO of AB Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Port Harcourt (since 2006). For her, integrity has helped her in business, as she has gained the trust of others (business partners and patients alike). AB Pharmacy is a member of the CPN Nexus, the largest aggregation of licensed community pharmacies in Africa
She is the state vice-chairman of ACPN and now Secretary of the Association of Lady Pharmacists National as well as a Merit Award winner
She has an overwhelming passion to impact knowledge which makes her hardly refuse duties even when overwhelmed with work, although this is a weakness; for her it has been a great source of self development and helped her multitask whilst achieving great results. Her eloquence has also made her an anchor person for so many high profile events- conferences and religious programs alike.
She is a trained pharmacist with an MSc in Pharmacology, who will be proceeding for her PhD soon.
She loves reading, music and dancing. She I married and blessed with children.
Her advice is: have integrity in whatever you do and go after the things you have a passion for. Never give up on your passion that will impact society positively.
She is married and blessed with children.