To the many, menopause is a frightening condition that signals the end of womanhood. However, this change, although unavoidable, is not something to fear.
Read on to learn about the ins and outs of menopause, and how Kegel8 can help you relieve your symptoms.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause occurs when a woman ceases to have periods and is no longer naturally able to become pregnant. The condition marks the end of your menstrual cycle, and is diagnosed once you've gone 12 months without a menstrual period.
What Causes Menopause?
Menopause can be caused by various factors, such as:
- Natural decline of reproductive hormones - The most common cause of menopause is the loss of hormones. When you approach your late 30s, the ovaries start making less oestrogen and progesterone - these are the hormones that regulate menstruation and increase fertility. When you reach your 40s, menstrual periods can become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, or more or less frequent. On average, by 51, your ovaries will stop producing eggs and you will not experience any more periods.
- Hysterectomy - A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your uterus (womb).This operation, which leaves your ovaries in place, usually doesn't cause immediate menopause. Although you won't have periods, your ovaries will still produce oestrogen and progesterone, and release eggs. However, a total hysterectomy that removes your uterus and ovaries will cause immediate menopause. The symptoms following this can be severe due to the abrupt changes in hormones.
Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy - Chemotherapy uses drugs, usually through an injection or tablets, to treat different types of cancer. Radiotherapy involves the use of radiation, usually X-rays, to treat illness. These cancer treatment therapies can encourage menopause to occur, sometimes causing symptoms such as hot flushes during or after treatment. However, the stoppage of menstruation and fertility is not always permanent.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency - Around 1% of women experience premature menopause (menopause before age 40). Menopause can happen if your ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones. Often there is no cause of this, but it can stem from genetic factors or autoimmune disease.
To learn about the symptoms that occur during menopause, click here.
What are the Problems Associated with Menopause?
After menopause, you may increase your risk of certain medical conditions, such as:
- Urinary Incontinence - A loss of elasticity in the vagina during menopause can results in frequent, sudden and urges to urinate, that is often followed by involuntary leakage of urine. It's important to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to prevent this.
- Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease - As your oestrogen levels drop, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in women, so it's important to maintain a healthy weight and diet.
- Osteoporosis - During the beginning of menopause, you can lose bone density at a rapid weight, which increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. This condition causes bones to become weak and brittle, and postmenopausal women are extremely susceptible to spine, hip and wrist fractures.
- Sexual function - Decreased moisture production and a loss of elasticity in the vagina can cause vaginal dryness. This often causes discomfort and slight bleeding during sexual intercourse. This can also impact upon your libido. To learn how to treat this, visit Menopause Treatment.
- Weight gain - Your metabolism will slow during your transition into menopause, causing you to gain weight. You may have to eat less and exercise more in order to maintain your prior weight.
How Does Menopause Affect The Pelvic Floor?
Menopause can cause your pelvic floor muscles to weaken. These muscles are vital for supporting your pelvic organs, which means as they weaken you will be at risk of developing a pelvic floor disorder such as incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.
Weight gain can also have a significant impact on the pelvic floor during menopause. It is common to gain weight during menopause as your metabolism slows, however these added pounds put more stress onto your pelvic floor, weakening it as a result.
Pelvic floor exercises are vital during this period of a woman's life, and can be beneficial in a number of ways if performed correctly.
How Can You Treat Menopause?
The main treatment for menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, there are things you can do and buy, such as Kegels and lubricants, that can help with your transition into postmenopausal life. Click here to learn more about menopause treatment.
Cancer Research UK (2016) What is Radiotherapy? [online]. Cancer Research UK [viewed 31/08/2018]. Available from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/radiotherapy/about
Macmillan Cancer Support (2018) Chemotherapy [online]. Macmillan Cancer Support [viewed 31/08/2018]. Available from https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/treating/chemotherapy
Mayo Clinic (2017) Menopause [online]. Mayo Clinic [viewed 30/08/2018]. Available from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
NHS (2016) Hysterectomy [online]. NHS [viewed 31/08/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hysterectomy/
NHS (2015) Menopause [online]. NHS [viewed 30/08/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/
Pelvic Floor First (2016) Menopause [online]. Continence Foundation of Australia [viewed 31/08/2018]. Available from http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/pages/going-through-menopause-or-post-menopausal.html