New Delhi: “I had ‘brain fog’ and found it really hard to concentrate.” “All of the night sweats, anxiety, I was crying – I couldn’t stop crying.” – These are some of the accounts of women who have experienced menopause in their lives. Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life that marks the end of her menstrual cycle. It signals the end of a woman’s reproductive years and usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years as a natural part of biological ageing, as per the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the Indian Menopause Society (IMS), India has 150 million women living with menopause. But how often is the topic discussed? On Menstrual Hygiene Day 2023, we take the mystery out of menopause.
5 Things To Know To Understand About Menopause:
1. Perimenopause and menopause are both transitional phases that indicate the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Perimenopause means ‘around menopause’ and can begin anywhere from the mid-30s to the mid-50s. During this time, the ovaries produce fewer hormones causing the menstrual cycle to become irregular. Women transition from perimenopause stage to menopause once they have gone 12 straight months without a period, states WHO.
2. Perimenopause usually begins 8-10 years before menopause. The length varies, but on average it is 4 years. Dr Pushpa Sethi, Senior Practicing Gynecologist and National President, Indian Menopause Society (2023-2024) says that women go through menopause at an average Indian age of 46.7 years (plus or minus one to two years).
3. According to WHO, menopausal symptoms include:
- Hot flushes and night sweats. Hot flushes refer to a sudden feeling of heat in the face, neck and chest, often accompanied by flushing of the skin, perspiration (sweating), palpitations, and acute feelings of physical discomfort which can last several minutes;
- Changes in the regularity and flow of the menstrual cycle, culminating in the termination of menstruation;
- Vaginal dryness, pain during sexual intercourse and incontinence;
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Changes in mood, depression, and/or anxiety.
4. Physical risks associated with menopause include loss of calcium because of a decline in estrogen levels, resulting in weakness of bones, says Dr Pushpa Sethi. She adds,
Loss of estrogen can also result in cardiac issues. Women may also experience physical changes like weight gain, diabetes and hypertension and even psychological issues like loss of sleep at night, depression.
5. Explaining cardiovascular risks associated with menopause, Dr Ashok Taneja, National President Elect, Cardio-Diabetes Society of India said,
If you are deficient in something which is coupled with estrogen deficiency, it leads to cholesterol formation which leads to more blockages in the heart and blood vessels. Secondly, it can also increase blood sugar levels resulting in diabetes.
How To Protect Your Heart, Bones And Body During Menopause
1. Dr Ashok Taneja recommends some precautions that all women can take to avoid complications. He suggests detoxification of both body and mind. He says,
Body detoxification can be achieved through diet. Reduce carbohydrates and fats and increase protein in your diet. Avoid refined salt, sugar and flour to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure and lipid in control. Women must walk 10,000 steps a day and also exercise.
2. Talking about preventing bone mass and density loss due to menopause, Dr Sidhant Narula, Bone and Joint Specialist, Fortis Hospital said,
Hormonal changes lead to a decrease in bone mass and bone density which can increase the risk of fractures and bone pain. To avoid this, women should keep their muscle mass intact. Increase protein in their diet; do resistance training three to four times a week; take Vitamin D and Calcium supplements.
3. According to Dr Sachin Dhawan, Senior Consultant Dermatologist, Fortis Hospital, post-menopausal symptoms include dryness of skin and hair; hair fall; women may experience increased growth in facial hair. He says, “Women may get more prone to allergies. Some women get acne or pigmentation.” Dr Dhawan suggests taking precautions before the menopause stage and adds,
Take supplements for your hair like Biotin and Collagen. For the skin, take Vitamin E and Omega 3 supplements. Exercising increases blood supply to the skin and hair. It prevents the skin from getting thinner and it gives you a glow, so ensure you exercise a lot.
4. Experts also recommend taking care of one’s mental health because menopause can result in mood swings, anxiety and in some cases depression as well.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.