From the time an adolescent girl experiences her first period until she reaches her late 40s or 50s, she will continue to have the potential to bear children. In order to be capable of this biological function, a woman's body produces an egg around every 28 days. However, when fertilization fails to occur, the body will have to eliminate the egg and the lining (called endometrium) to which it is attached because there is no longer any use for them; this elimination, in turn, results in menstruation.
Of course, a woman will not have the capacity to bear children throughout her entire life; sometime around a woman's 30s and up to the 50s, the sex hormones in her body will begin to change; she will stop producing an egg each month and her monthly periods will dwindle and eventually come to a full stop-indicating the beginning of menopause. This natural biological condition can be easily managed by most women, but for those who find its symptoms unbearable or difficult to take control of, there are a number of options for menopause treatment that can be considered.
Because the balance of hormones in her body are changing, a woman will consequently experience a number of new sensations: hot flashes (or flushes) and night sweats, headaches, palpitations, loss of libido, vaginal pain or dryness, sleeping problems, urinary tract infections, and mood changes are some of the more common signs of menopause.
When these symptoms become regularly severe (something that can occur when menopause comes suddenly into one's life), a woman can choose from available treatment options. Hormone replacement therapy is one; this treatment works by replacing the female sex hormone called estrogen which decreases with the onset of menopause. Another hormone-a synthetic one-called tibolone can also keep menopausal symptoms in check. There's also the option of taking medication such as clonidine; it reduces hot flashes and night sweats despite being originally designed to treat high blood pressure. Health professionals can also prescribe specific antidepressants to help ease the effects of menopause.
For women who do not wish to resort to treatment and medication, there are also more natural ways to alleviate the negative effects of menopause. Hot flashes, for example, can be improved by regular exercise, maintaining cool bedroom temperatures at night, reducing stress levels, and avoiding potential triggers like smoking and caffeine. Getting sufficient rest, observing regular sleep schedules, and trying out relaxation therapies like tai chi and yoga can also help improve sleeping problems and mood changes.
Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life. It is important for women everywhere to keep in mind that gynecologists and other women's health professionals are available for consultation about the best treatments and management methods for their specific condition.