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Menopause – you can enjoy it : By Sonu Agarwal

Like puberty, menopause is just a phase of the hormonal realignment of the body. It is a phase every woman has to go through and with a little understanding and preparation, it can be as enjoyable as any other phase of your life. Menopause is the stage when your reproductive system stops releasing eggs and you stop menstruating. This is accompanied by a decrease in production of female hormones – estrogen and progesterone.

The accompanying symptoms may be unsettling and their severity will differ for different women.Menopause typically happens between 40 to 50 years of age. The international mean age of menopause is 51 years, while in India it may happen a little earlier, at a mean age of 48 years. Bottom line is if you do not get your periods for 12 months, you are diagnosed with menopause.

Menopause doesn’t happen overnight but rather the changes in your body kick in slowly over time. This stage, known as perimenopause, can last for four to five years or even longer. Perimenopause may be characterized with irregular periods, or periods totally absent for a month or so only to reappear. Or they may be absent for a couple of months and again appear for a few months thereafter. During this period precautions must be taken to avoid pregnancy as this is very much possible.

The hormonal changes during menopause may give rise to certain unwelcome symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats, vaginal dryness with decreased sensations leading to diminished sexual desire.

Difficulty in sleeping, mood swings, irritability, weight gain, psychological changes, depression, urinary incontinence along with an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease are other changes that occur during this phase. If you are having any of the above symptoms, or irregular heavy periods or vaginal bleeding after the menopause has begun, it’s necessary to consult your doctor. Even without these symptoms, regular screenings like PAP smear, lipid profiling, breast ultrasound and mammography, bone densitometry are a must.

There is light at the end of the tunnel because the post-menopausal phase has its own perks. Fewer family responsibilities, greater time flexibility, HOW? COS KIDS HAVE GROWN UP? zero risks of pregnancy may make this period as enjoyable as any other. Enjoy the silver streaks in your hair.

Dr. Sonu Agarwal

Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Panchsheel Park