The average age for a woman to experience her menopause is 52. Menopause is considered to have occurred when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for a 12 month period. Peri-menopause is what occurs in the years leading up to menopause, and can be anywhere from 6 months to 10 years in length, depending upon the individual’s constitution and health status.
Approximately 25% of women move through these peri-menopausal years, also called the “menopause transition” years, without much notice except the ending of their menstrual cycles. The same percentage of women suffer almost debilitating symptoms from their body going through “the change of life.” About 50% of all women have mild to moderate symptoms.
The significant hormonal changes of menopause are due to the decreased production, by ovarian egg follicles, of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Some women can begin to have a decrease in ovulation as early as their 30’s, while for others this may not occur until much later. The physical aftermath of the female body losing its regular production of estrogen and progesterone, and the adjustment period for the endocrine glands to find their balance again, is generally between 4-5 years.
The less severity of symptoms a woman experiences, the easier it is for her body to adjust to its new hormonal status. While menopause cannot be avoided, it can be made easier with a bit of preparation that will allow the hormonal system to “shift gears” more smoothly.
Reducing stressors in all forms in our 30’s and 40’s sets the body up to avoid many of the stress-induced symptoms which may include: loss of energy, exhaustion, hot flashes, anxiety, depression, significant weight gain or anxiety. Stress, according to Hans Seyle, MD, PhD, the pioneer of stress and adaptation research, constitutes various events which create physiological wear and tear on the body and can create, in females, significant hormonal imbalances.
Those factors or events include: lack of rest and sleep, too much exercise or exertion, allergies, immunological insults such as infection or inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, trauma, dental or medical surgeries, reproduction and sex, excessive hot or cold or exposure to sun and ongoing worry or anxiety.
A study published in Pub Med
“This study investigated the proposal that post-menopausal women who present for treatment at menopause clinics suffer from more life stresses and more symptoms than post-menopausal women in the general population.”
We can prepare for a smoother menopause by reducing our physical stress, improving nutrition, modifying exercise and taking good care of our immune system through adequate rest and sleep. Finding techniques for handling emotional stress also goes a long way to improve our menopausal experience.
- Dr. Georgianna Donadio