The menopause describes the hormonal changes in the female body at the end of the fertile phase of life. The level of suffering is high for a third of women at this time.
What is menopause in women?
Menopause is the time before and after a woman’s last menstrual period (menopause). One to two years after the menopause, pregnancy is no longer possible. The course of the menopause is individual for every woman – as well as how badly she suffers from the possible symptoms. At the moment, the so-called baby boomers – i.e. a particularly large female population group – are reaching this phase of life.
The phases of menopause
Menopause marks the beginning of a new phase of life for women. This phase of life lasts a total of about five to ten years. The duration of menopause is divided into four phases. The three main phases are: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.
Phase 1: First the premenopause
The premenopause is the time before the onset of the first menstrual irregularity until menopause. As early as the mid-40s, the female body begins to undergo hormonal changes. This can be accompanied by typical symptoms such as hot flashes or sweating.
Phase 2: The perimenopause
Perimenopause is the period from one year before to one year after menopause. During this phase, the female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen are released less and less. First, the amount of progesterone decreases, which leads to an excess of estrogen. Increased water retention can lead to muscle and joint problems.
Later, the production of estrogen decreases. Sweating and insomnia can be the result. The ovaries slowly cease to function. From birth, every woman has an individual number of egg cells. If the supply of egg cells is running low, ovulation and periods are less likely to occur.
Phase 3: The menopause
The last menstrual period in women is called menopause. On average, women are 51 years old. However, the age range in which menopause can occur is from 40 to 60 years. We speak of premature menopause when the last menstrual period occurs before the age of 40.
Phase 4: The postmenopause – last phase of the climacteric
Postmenopause begins a year after menopause, the last period, and lasts for several years, depending on the woman. The body needs time to get used to the new hormone balance and to settle down. The hormones progesterone and estrogen are permanently at a low level.
Common complaints in the menopause
Every third woman suffers from severe menopausal symptoms. Many also experience the first menopause symptoms while they are still having their period. Typical symptoms include mood swings, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disorders, and muscle and joint problems.
So-called fibroids can also occur in the abdomen. Fibroids are benign growths of the uterine muscles that occur much more frequently as menopause approaches. At the beginning of the menopause, about 40 percent of all women have such benign muscle knots. They are often only discovered incidentally during routine examinations.
Hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms
Hormone therapy can be a useful treatment for women who suffer greatly during menopause. Hormone therapy can alleviate the symptoms of menopause – but most women now reject it.
According to a recent health report from 2022, only six percent of working women between the ages of 45 and 65 opt for hormone therapy. In comparison: In the year 2000 it was still 37 percent. Possible side effects and skepticism about the hormones deter many women. Read more about hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms here:
A third of women going through menopause suffer from distressing side effects. Hormone therapy could bring relief – but many women refuse it. The reservations are largely unfounded, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Scientific studies prove this.
What helps: Relieve menopausal symptoms yourself
Women who want to improve their overall well-being during menopause can do so through dietary changes, exercise, and relaxation.
- A balanced and varied diet is recommended, because the need for nutrients remains the same during the menopause.
- With sufficient exercise, the metabolism can be boosted overall and health strengthened.
- Regular relaxation, for example through yoga, walks and autogenic training, can also be helpful and improve body awareness.
Read more about what else you can do here:
85 percent of women experience hot flashes during menopause. The good news: as a person affected, you can do something about it yourself and also use the power of plants.