What they don’t tell you about menopause

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Sleepless nights, excessive sweating, memory lapses, dull skin, back pain, not to mention thinning hair. Symptoms that we talk about a lot and that make us fear menopause like that “And it is immediately evening” in Quasimodo’s poem. The metaphor of the end, the epilogue. After all, in menopause there is the end of something, the fertility of a woman. The effort to better live this phase of life and see the glass half full is to accept the body in transformation.

We are bombarded with campaigns to experience a happy menopause, with tips to transform your life and self-esteem over 50. We are told what to do, more hydration, more fruits and vegetables, more vitamin C in general, more physical activity to reduce sleepless nights, which also means getting rid of dark circles and puffiness from the next day. There are those who suggest hormonal yoga, others face gymnastics to restore the skin structure in free fall. Who more simply recommends laughing more and lightening the mind with meditation. To help us and help women we decided to clarify and start from the basics.

MENOPAUSE, WHEN THE ALARM SOUNDS
«Menopause begins on average between 47 and 53 years, it is said that at 50 we enter the phase in which we are on the verge of menopause. In Italy, however, 1 out of 10 women go through menopause before the age of 40 and 1 out of 5 before the age of 45, perhaps due to the presence of pathologies. Menopause is a natural event only if it occurs at the right age, not too early and when it does not create problems, otherwise it requires special self-care and it is important to consult a doctor “, explains the professor. Rossella Button, gynecologist at the University of Pavia Policlinico San Matteo. «Menopause lasts between 7 and 10 years and many are convinced that it is the day of the last menstruation that marks the beginning. Instead, everything starts three years before the date of the last menstruation, after the age of 45, or around the age of 47, it is from this moment that the regularity of their menstruation should be expected to change. This phase is called perimenopause and ends one year before the last menstruation ».

GLOSSARY
The premenopause

«The first small irregularities of the cycle appear about three years before the last menstruation. Menstruation anticipates or delays because we no longer produce the usual quantities of progesterone and estrogen ».
The perimenopause
«It starts from the year before the last menstruation until the following year. Generally it is the age in which you have more symptoms, such as hot flashes, day and night, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, bone and joint pain. This is the period in which the woman usually goes to the doctor, she still has her period but menopause is at the door ».
And then comes postmenopausal
“It begins when 12 months have passed since the last menstruation and lasts about 10 years, after senility begins, when the body has lost its ability to respond to hormonal stimuli, usually after the age of 65”.

SENTINEL SIGNALS
1. Irregularity of the menstrual cycle, or cycle short or too long, or even skipping.
2. Hot flashes and excessive sweating due to the decrease in estrogen, but above all to the absence of progesterone which has a thermoregulatory function. In this case, the lack of estrogen makes it more sensitive to stress and hot flashes increase.
3. Night insomnia, because estrogen and progesterone, which also work on the brain, by regulating the sleep rhythm, are reduced and the sleep-wake cycle is altered.
4. Mood swings, similar to those from PMS, except that in the fertile period of the woman they are limited to 4 or 5 days a month, with the arrival of perimenopause they are always there.
5. Body aches because estrogen has an effect everywhere, on all organs not only by stimulating the production of collagen in the skin but everywhere. It is also more painful because with less estrogen the pain tolerance threshold decreases.
6. The joints creak because with a lack of estrogen that regulate the production of synovial fluid, there is a lack of lubricant. Vertebrae with this lack of fluid in the intra-vertebral discs also tend to squeeze.
7. We have memory lapses because estrogen works on neurons by enhancing cognitive functions and thinking. If there are fewer neurotransmitters regulating them, including the sleep cycle, mood is altered and negatively reflected on the memory faculties.
8. We put weight on the waist, acquire an apple shape, due to water retention generated by the decrease in progesterone and estrogen.

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