Menopause is neither a disease nor a disorder, rather its a natural phenomenon which happens once your menstrual cycle ceases naturally. According to a study done by Mitra et al. 2014, approximately 95% of women enter the menopause stage by the age of 39 to 51 years.
The body begins to undergo several changes like lower levels of oestrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH).
Basic functions of Oestrogen hormone is the formation and maintenance of secondary sex hormones and Progesterone is the maintenance of uterus.
On the other hand, FSH stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles and LH is to stimulate ovulation.
The most evident resultant change is the loss of active ovarian follicles, which are responsible for fertility, signalling the end of the fertile phase of a woman’s life.
- Hot flushes
- Night Sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced libido
- Anxiety and mood swings
Although it is a natural process it might become an issue of concern as it may have certain health consequences and risk factors associated with it.
According to US-NIH; 2005, menopause may come with certain health risk factors:-
Heart Disease: As the oestrogen levels decline, which is responsible for keeping the vessels relaxed and maintaining a balance between good and bad cholesterol. After menopause, the level of total cholesterol i.e. low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides fluctuate and high-density lipoproteins get reduced which are the important markers of cardiovascular diseases.
Osteoporosis: As there is an increased demand for calcium in the body, if it is unable to meet the needs, then it can make your bones brittle and porous due to demineralisation of bones.
Mental Health: As hormones drop, especially oestrogen, which leads to a reduction of key neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins that are responsible to keep you happy. This exposes you to mood disorders, anxiety and even depression.
Obesity: Ayub et al.(2006) in postmenopausal women, a decrease in oestrogen level can lead to an increase in body fat and BMI (Basal Metabolic Index). Furthermore, low levels of leptin can lead to an imbalance in energy regulation and expenditure as its main physiological role is to communicate CNS about the availability of energy stores and to check food intake.
Lifestyle changes Post Menopause
- Quit smoking
- Be physically active and exercise
- Practice safe sex
- Include nuts like almonds and walnuts to get the essential fatty acids like omega 3 fatty acids.
- Sesame seeds, finger millet and lotus seeds are a rich sources of calcium.
- Include germinated pulses and legumes (chickpeas, lentil), whole grains to get fibre and Vitamin B(link SN Multivitamin). Also, in case you are deficient in Vit B6 and B12, then it is important to include supplements.
- After menopause, calcium needs go up, so it is recommended that women should get vitamin D (link SN Vitamin D) each day in the form of supplements for better calcium absorption.
- Include more of dark leafy Vegetables
- Include potassium and Vitamin C rich fruits like lemon, pomegranate, amla, melon, sweet lime, guava.
- Include liquids like coconut water, lauki juice, cucumber juice which have cooling properties.
- Have an ample amount of water.
In conclusion, menopausal women are at a high risk of nutritional disorder or obesity, due to low levels of oestrogen. Although, it can be managed well by modifying your dietary habits and lifestyle.
- Mahdavian, M., Abbassian, H.(2013).Major Cardiovascular Risk Factors for Menopausal and Non- menopausal Women, Compared with Men of the Same Age, among Patients Admitted to the Cardiology Department of Imam Reza Hospital, Mashhad, Iran. J Midwifery Reprod Health.; 2(2): 136-142.
- US Department of Health and Human Services.(n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/pht_facts.pdf
- Kotiyal, P., Sharma, M.(2013).Postmenopausal quality of life and associated factors- A Review. JSIR. 2(4): 814-823