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Menopause refers to the changes experienced by a woman just before or after the stop of her menstruation which marks the end of her reproductive period. Menopause is a normal condition which is experienced by all women as a sign of aging. Menopause happens when the ovaries stop releasing eggs at the end of every month. Natural menopause typically happens in three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause.
The perimenopause phase begins a couple of years prior to the menopause and this phase is characterized by the production of less estrogen by the ovaries.
The menopause stage is the point when the woman has not had her menstrual period for a year and the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs. The post-menopausal phase is the time after the menopause and this phase marks the easing of menopausal symptoms.
Symptoms of Menopause
Some common symptoms of menopause are listed below:
- Hot Flashes: Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms experienced by women in their perimenopausal, menopausal, and post menopausal phases. Hot flashes can be defined as a sudden feeling of warmth experienced by women in their upper body. It is a momentary sensation of heat that is often accompanied by blushing and sweating. Hot flashes frequently occur at night and tend to interfere with the sleeping pattern.
- Irregular or missed periods
- Mood swings and irritability
- Changes in libido
- Vaginal dryness
Preventing Hot Flashes
The duration and severity of hot flashes varies from one woman to the other. Hot flashes tend to become less severe with the passage of time. Although it is impossible to avoid hot flashes altogether, there are certain triggers for hot flashes that can be avoided. These triggers for hot flashes include:
- Spicy foods
- Cigarette smoking
Other options for keeping the hot flashes at bay include staying cool by keeping fans on during the day and wearing light cotton clothes at night. Breathing exercises such as slow abdominal breathing with about 6-8 breaths per minute in the morning and in the evening help in controlling hot flashes.
A recent study conducted by researchers in Hong Kong has shown that a Chinese herbal mixture can halve the number of hot flashes experienced by menopausal women. The study was conducted by Prof Yao Tong at the University of Hong Kong and the results were published in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society.