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Menopause Signs and Therapy
Many women from the mid-30s are looking forward to the start of their menopause (menopause) with a certain tension, if not fear. Not only do they perceive the impending loss of their fertility as a loss of part of their femininity, women in the menopause also experience numerous complaints that are associated with the situation-related hormone change. However, there are a number of useful treatment measures that can at least alleviate the symptomatic aspect of menopause somewhat. A woman who knows how to prevent hormonal changes in good time can even delay the process for a while.
What exactly happens during menopause?
The medical term for the menopause "climacterium" is derived from the Greek word climactic and means something like "step leader" or "critical point in life". And in fact, the menopause means a dramatic turn for almost every woman, which brings with it both physical, psychological and emotional changes.
On average, the first signs of menopause appear in women over the age of 40. However, this is not a fixed rule. For some women, menopause begins earlier, towards the end or even in the early 30s. In such cases, one speaks of a premature climacteric (Climacterium preacox). Other women sometimes remain fertile until their mid-50s, although this is more the exception. Regardless of the individual entry age, the course of the menopause follows a constant process that can be divided into several phases:
- Phase - premenopause:
In women there is a decrease in the level of progesterone, which means the first irregularities in the menstrual cycle. There are cycle interruptions and thus the first missing menstrual periods.
- Phase - menopause:
The ovaries stop producing new eggs, which is due to the drop in estrogen levels. After a last menstrual period, the menstrual cycle finally stops.
- Phase - perimenopause:
This time denotes a one to two year period before or after menopause, in which, in addition to strong hormone fluctuations, there are also final remodeling processes in the female body tissue and severe psychological complaints can occur. In the course of perimenopause, for example, the bone density of women can decrease, which has so far been largely determined by female hormones. Also typical for perimenopause are the infamous mood swings of women, which can sometimes result in severe menopause depression.
- Phase - postmenopause:
This period describes the first twelve months after the last menstrual period, i.e. the (imagined) year after menopause. Only when this period has passed without further spontaneous bleeding can it be stated with certainty that the actual menopause has already occurred.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
The effects of the menopause-related changes in the female hormone balance are manifold. Both physical (physical) and mental (psychological) aspects have to be taken into account.
Skin problems due to menopause
Physically, in addition to the loss of reproductive ability, there are above all remodeling processes of different tissue structures in the body that are decisively determined by hormones. For example, the production of the protein collagen decreases due to the falling estrogen level. Collagen is an important component in the connective tissue of the skin and provides an adequate supply of moisture. If the collagen content in the connective tissue decreases, this has various effects. Above all, this of course means a poorer hydration of the skin, which is why women often go through the menopause
- increased wrinkling,
- blemished skin,
- dry skin
- and complain of pimples.
On the other hand, the decrease in collagen also significantly reduces the tightness of the connective tissue.
The subcutaneous fat tissue is insufficiently supported by connective tissue structures, which leads to cellulite. This particularly affects parts of the body that are naturally rich in adipose tissue, i.e. the chest, abdomen, upper arms, thighs and buttocks. Stretch marks usually form at these points, provided there are very ample flab. In addition, menopause-related cellulite can be recognized by the increase in dents in the skin, which also makes the weakness of the connective tissue visible from the outside.
Overall, about 80 to 90 percent of women in advanced age are affected by cellulite. That is a lot, but it also shows that this process on the female body is completely natural and not the end of the world. However, the conversion processes in the body tissue also increase the risk of breast cancer, since the connective tissue structures located here tend to form nodules and cell degeneration due to the conversion. Regular preventive examinations are therefore essential from the age of 40 in order to be able to detect malignant tissue changes in good time.
Weak bones, teeth, nails and hair
Now, unfortunately, skin and connective tissue are not the only body structures that feel the sinking level of female hormones. The structure of teeth, bones, hair and fingernails is also determined by the hormone level. It is therefore not surprising that health complaints such as
- brittle fingernails,
- Hair loss,
- thin hair,
- Joint problems
- and tooth loss
increase during and after menopause. In most cases, such structural weaknesses are caused by hormonal disorders in the nutrient supply of the corresponding body structures. Because estrogen normally improves the absorption of calcium in bones and teeth, which is why an estrogen deficiency quickly leads to an undersupply of the skeleton and tooth structure with the important mineral, i.e. calcium deficiency. Nail and hair growth in women is also stimulated by the female sex hormone. If this does not happen, women are increasingly dependent on a targeted supply of nutrients from outside, which takes on this stimulating function.
Digestive and metabolic problems in the menopause
Female digestion is not as tough as it used to be in the course of menopause. Many women report that certain foods increasingly cause indigestion after the onset of their menopause. These are often products that require increased enzyme activity to break down food components, such as cheese or pasta. However, since the production of digestive enzymes is closely linked to the hormonal balance, digestive problems and associated symptoms are like
- Stomach pain,
- Bloated belly,
- or feeling of fullness
not uncommon during menopause. Affected women should therefore closely monitor the extent to which the consumption of certain foods has a negative effect on their digestion. Last but not least, the famous hot flashes that women in menopause over and over again mention. Together with the disturbances in nutrient supply and impairments in kidney function, which are also characteristic for many menopause courses, the heat spurts and sweats clearly show how closely hormone and metabolism are connected. If one fluctuates, the other stumbles, which, with the exception of pregnancy, hardly manifests itself at another point in a woman's life as clearly as in menopause.
The physical complaints alone make women emotionally difficult in the menopause. Not only does the body change noticeably and a certain aging process can no longer be dismissed from the hand, they also have their hands full when it comes to taking countermeasures to successfully stand up to some remodeling processes. Dietary changes, the right skin care, sport for tissue tightening - the entire daily routine has to be practically restructured and adapted to the special situation in life, which can be a major psychological burden. The same applies to indigestion, bone and back pain, which can occur at regular intervals during the menopause.
To make matters worse, there are also mental problems of a completely different nature in menopause.
Apart from the fact that fluctuating hormone levels can cause extremely annoying mood swings and increased irritability, many women find it difficult to redefine their role as women when the clearest indication of femininity, namely their fertility, begins to wane. Likewise, optical aspects such as the change in skin or body stature are psychologically difficult for many to accept without any problems. The build of the body in the context of the menopausal processes in the organism is either significantly rounder or leaner depending on the disposition, which can mean a drastic optical change. Breast firmness also decreases significantly and, to make matters worse, gives the afflicted woman even sagging breasts, which can only be treated to a limited extent through sporting measures.
Menopause is also particularly stressful for women who have not yet started a family. An unfulfilled desire to have children causes the so-called gate closing panic here years before the actual menopause. Again and again ridiculed by society, this panic is anything but fun for those affected. The ticking inner clock can only be ignored with difficulty and at the latest when the menopause begins, it triggers the alarm in all intensity. If a woman is single at the beginning of menopause, the inner conflict is usually exacerbated by a comprehensive fear of being alone. This can grow into real panic attacks. So what affects the female psyche most during menopause is their own self-awareness and self-esteem.
Treat menopausal symptoms naturally
In order to alleviate menopausal complaints, women can start at many different points. First of all, it is important to deal mentally with the fact that your own life takes a potentially frightening, but completely natural turn. This turning point may mean far-reaching changes for the body, but it doesn't make the woman affected less female.
On the contrary, women in the menopause should understand this special phase of life as a clear expression of their femininity and handle them accordingly. Because with all the complaints that menopause brings with it, it also offers women the opportunity to completely redefine their female identity. In addition, the clearly visible and noticeable changes allow a better understanding of your own body and its needs. This is the opportunity to strive for a healthier lifestyle and to do yourself more good. Mother nature is - as so often - an excellent coach.
Stabilize hormonal balance
In order to alleviate the complications that arise during the menopause from a fluctuating progesterone or estrogen level, there are numerous female herbs in naturopathy, which can either be prepared as tea or taken as dragees. Aggressive hormone preparations should only be taken in extreme emergencies, since they have a massive impact on the body's balance and may cause additional side effects. In addition, you can also include some phytohormone-containing foods in your diet that stabilize the hormone balance. Phytohormones are secondary plant substances that resemble the effects of hormones and can therefore take over their function in the body if consumed regularly. The most important medicinal herbs and foods for menopausal symptoms include:
- fennel - relieves symptoms such as digestive problems and mood swings.
- Lady's mantle - The Kaempferol contained in it helps especially against menopausal osteoporosis.
- hop - is one of the best medicinal herbs for menopausal symptoms and an unbalanced hormone balance.
- Chaste tree - Contains herbal progesterone and especially helps against hot flashes and mood swings.
- Red clover - has phytohormones, which are supposed to help against hot flashes.
- sage - contains the active ingredient thujone, which works against increased sweat flow and hot flashes.
- soy - Has vegetable estrogen as an ingredient and is especially recommended for the second half of the menopause.
- yam - Has vegetable progesterone as an ingredient and is therefore particularly recommended for the first half of the menopause.
In addition to foods that are able to balance the hormonal balance, menopausal women should also pay attention to a stomach and intestine-friendly diet. In this way, menopausal digestive complaints can be prevented. The targeted supply of nutrients that strengthen the skin, hair, bones, teeth and nails is also advisable during the menopause. The body has an increased need for calcium and magnesium as well as vitamins A, D and E during this time. Overall, the following food groups are particularly recommended for menopausal nutrition:
- vegetables - is very digestive due to a high fiber content and at the same time provides important vitamins and nutrients. Porcini mushrooms in particular provide high amounts of vitamin D, which is otherwise very rare in food. Water-rich vegetables such as cucumbers or tomatoes in turn improve the skin's moisture supply. And the vitamin A in carrots is important for healthy hair growth. Cabbage vegetables, on the other hand, should be consumed with caution as they could promote menopausal gas.
- fruit - also very easily digestible and, in the case of berry fruits, equipped with an extra portion of antioxidants that trap free radicals in the skin, which makes the complexion appear fresher and healthier.
- Milk and sour milk products - have a lot of calcium and magnesium, which is good for bones and teeth. Sour milk products in particular also strengthen the intestinal flora and help with digestion.
- whole grain products - are rich in valuable trace elements such as zinc or copper, which keep nails, hair and skin healthy. In addition, whole grains provide high levels of fiber that promote digestion.
- Vegetable oils - provide vitamin E for a healthy hair, skin and nail structure. The unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in many vegetable oils also stimulate the metabolism, which improves the nutrient distribution in the body.
- fish - Vitamin D, which is important for digestion as well as for skin, hair and nails, is mainly found in fish such as salmon, herring and sardines. In addition, vitamin D is involved in the production of the so-called happiness hormone serotonin, which can mitigate mood swings caused by menopause.
Skin and hair care
Even if the menopausal hormone layer clogs the skin, there are many good skin care products today, for the skin from the age of 40, which are able to curb the formation of wrinkles and reduce cellulite. There are also special care series for thin hair. The focus should be on natural essences such as
- Cucumber extract,
- or healing earth.
Artificial additives, on the other hand, should be avoided since they add more to the weakened skin and hair structure than could be of use.
Sport and exercise
Certain sports exercises can also help to tighten the connective tissue. Above all, the muscles of the upper arm, chest and thighs should be specifically challenged to counter stretch marks. In general, regular stays in the fresh air are also useful to clear your head. Especially walks through the forest offer wonderful opportunities for relaxation. In this regard, relaxation offers such as yoga or massages are also addressed. They can also contribute to the elasticity of the connective tissue and at the same time provide relaxation and balance. (ma)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Miriam Adam, Dr. med. Andreas Schilling
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ICD codes for this disease: N95ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.