Is anyone else afraid of the dreaded…CHANGE of Life? No? Maybe it’s just me.
As I age, I am becoming more and more worried about the changes that my life will be privy to in the near future. I sit and think about my wonderful Grandma Ruth, God rest her soul, who fanned and patted the dripping sweat from her brow in 20 degree weather, and didn’t sleep for longer than 20 minutes at a time. I often wonder if that is my fate. To make matters worse, her symptoms started in her 30’s and continued for the next 40 years, only easing, slightly, in the last year or two of her life. So I set out to refresh my memory regarding this milestone of life.
“The Change of Life” makes menopause sound like a beautiful transformation. Sort of like an ugly caterpillar changing into a beautiful butterfly. This may be true for some, perhaps, but not for many. Most women do not know much about the subject, and learn about it as they go through the experience. This is not surprising as there are so many other changes that happen in life. Menopause kind of takes a back seat until the heat begins to rise!
Every woman with normal healthy body systems, that lives long enough, will experience menopause. Menopause signifies the ending of your monthly menstrual cycles. It usually begins in the 40’s and 50’s, but onset can fluctuate, either way, by as much as 10 years.
The female hormones, estrogen, are the primary driving force behind menopause. Estrogen is not a single hormone, but a few hormones, that are predominantly produced by the ovaries in pre-menopausal women, and in areas such as the liver and fat. The only exception is during pregnancy, when the placenta takes over. Like testosterone, both men and women have estrogen; just much higher in women. Estrogen is to thank for lubrication and elasticity of the urethra and vagina, menstruation, signally the preparation of the uterus for pregnancy, and for jump-starting the secretion of other hormones related to pregnancy.
During menopause, the ovarian production of estrogen significantly drops, leading to the signs and symptoms of menopause such as: inability to get pregnant (pregnancy can occur during pre-menopause), vaginal dryness (leading to painful sexual intercourse), hot flashes (lasting seconds to several minutes, sometimes worse at night), inability to sleep, irritability, acne, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and changes in hair growth on face and torso (remember, women do have testosterone, too).
According to my doctors, diagnosing pre-menopause (and menopause) is typically done based on the symptoms presented. Your doctor can test your blood levels of estrogen, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to assist in diagnosis, as FSH and estrogen have an inverse relationship in menopause. However, in absence of testing, as a newly sleep deprived, acne ridden, sweaty/flashy, dry, irritable, fat, hairy woman, in the absence any other problem, I do not need a blood test to tell me what I already know…I am becoming a butterfly!
The information in this article is to be used for informational purposes only. It is NOT to be used in place of, or in conjunction with, professional medical advice. Anyone with questions regarding this or other medical issues discussed on this site must consult their physician for further information and treatment.