Jumat, 27 Juni 2008

Fit and Fresh During Menopause


The word menopause means the permanent natural cessation of menstrual cycles, from Greek roots �meno� (month) and �pausis� (a pause, a cessation). In other words, menopause means the natural and permanent stopping of the monthly female reproductive cycles, which is usually manifest as a permanent absence of monthly periods of menstruation.

After a number of years of erratic functioning, the ovaries almost completely stop producing hormone estrogens, progestin, and testosterone, and the reproductive system ceases to function.

The average age of menopause is 51 years, and the normal age range for last period is somewhere between age 45 to 55. Age 55 to 60 for last period ever is described as a late menopause. An early menopause is defined as last period ever between age of 40 to45.

Some women reach menopause at a much younger age than average, especially if they have had cancer or another serious illness, and have undergone chemotherapy. In 1% of women, last period ever occurring before the age of 40 (premature menopause). It is not viewed as being due to normal causes. Some known causes of spontaneous premature menopause include autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and diabetes mellitus, often it is due to unknown causes.

Signs and symptoms

Several signs and symptoms of menopause include irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and lack of concentration. These symptoms are caused by an overall drop in the levels of estrogens, progestin, and testosterone.

The causes of menopause

Menopause begins naturally when your ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone, , and the hormone that regulate menstruation. The process gets under way in your late 30s. By that time, fewer potential eggs are ripening in your ovaries each month, and ovulation is less predictable. These changes are more pronounced in your 40s, as are changes in your menstrual pattern. Your periods may become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, and more or less frequent. Eventually, your ovaries shut down and you have no more periods.

Unfortunately, there�s no way to know exactly which period will be your last.

Risk factors

Menopause is usually a natural process. But certain surgical or medical treatments or medical conditions can bring on menopause earlier than expected. These include hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Tips and trick to stay fit and fresh during menopause

1. Get regular exercise, and try to pinpoint what triggers your hot flashes. Avoid the triggers such as hot beverages, spicy foods, hot weather, and even a warm room.
2. Use water-based vaginal lubricants or moisturizers, and staying sexually active
3. Avoid caffeine and plan to exercise during the day; relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation can be very helpful.
4. Strengthen your pelvic floor with pelvic floor muscle exercises, called Kegel exercises, to prevent urinary incontinence.
5. Eat balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables nad whole grains, and that limits saturated fats, oils and sugars. Consume 1200 to 1500 mg of calcium and 800 IU vitamin D a day.
6. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, and a range of other health problems. So, stop it.
7. Talk with your doctor about how often you should have mammograms, pap smear, and laboratory tests.

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