Menopause Is Not The End of A Woman's Life

It's important to get support from loved ones

illustration of women of menopausal age (pexels.com/Maryia Plashchynskaya)

An elderly person is someone who reaches the age of 60 years and above, and at this age most women have passed menopause. Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman's last menstrual period.

Hormonal changes in the female body during menopause can reduce the quality of life, both physically and mentally. It is not uncommon for women to feel that their life has "ended" if they have experienced it.

Eugenia Communications presents the High Tea Talks by Eugenia Communications program in collaboration with Klinik Health 360 to educate the importance of detecting menopausal symptoms and managing stress, so that women can prepare themselves before and after menopause.

1. Symptoms of menopause

Doctor Ni Komang Yeni Dhana Sari, SpOG, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist from Klinik Health 360, explained that although this phase occurs naturally and happens to all women, it does not mean that they do not have difficulty dealing with it.

Some symptoms often make menopausal women experience difficulties, pain, or lack of confidence, such as:

  • Obesity, where the abdominal circumference is more than 80 centimeters.
  • Unusual menstrual cycle.
  • Dry vagina.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Fever.
  • Night sweats and sleep disturbances.
  • Changes in metabolism.
  • Hair loss.
  • Breast sagging.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol and blood sugar increase.
  • Impaired mental state.

These symptoms can even occur several years before menopause and continue, even after menstruation stops.

"Every woman usually faces unique risks based on genetics and other factors. So, it is very important for women to understand how to protect themselves from increasing other health risks after menopause," said Dr. Yeni in a written statement.

2. Lurking disease

illustration of menopausal women (pexels.com/cottonbro studio)

In addition to changes in body shape and general health problems, the decrease in estrogen during this period can increase the risk of several diseases.

The biggest potential danger after menopause is heart disease. The main reason is because one of estrogen's jobs is to help keep blood vessels flexible, so they contract and widen to accommodate blood flow. However, this function declines once estrogen levels decrease during menopause.

Apart from heart disease, some of the health disorders that increase in risk during menopause include:

  • Osteoporosis: Before menopause, women's bones are protected by estrogen and this function is lost after menopause.
  • Obesity: Menopause causes the body to gain weight and lose
  • lean tissue mass.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): The vagina becomes drier and thinner, making it easier for bacteria to thrive.
  • Urinary incontinence: The loss of estrogen in the bladder lining causes the vaginal muscles to relax.

Hormonal changes cause symptoms that interfere with productivity and can reduce quality of life.

Biological changes occur due to hormonal changes characterized by an increase in FSH and LH, as well as a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, according to Dr. dr. Natalia Widiasih Raharjanti, SpKJ(K), MPd.Ked, a mental medicine specialist at RSUPN Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo (RSCM).

So it's good for women and the people around them not to underestimate menopause, because if not handled properly it can endanger women.

3. Therapy for menopause

If you experience severe symptoms and effects before, during, and after menopause, there are therapies that can be done, including:

  • Hormone therapy: Estrogen therapy may be the most effective treatment option to relieve hot flashes and improve several bodily functions. Research has shown that hormone treatment is relatively safe when administered through the skin, mucous membranes or vagina.
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy: To treat vaginal dryness.
  • Low-dose antidepressant therapy: For example, gabapentin, clonidine, fezolitenant, and other medications that are directly related to the symptoms.

Hormone therapy is the main treatment for menopause. However, before getting it, women need to be screened first, especially to find out whether there is a potential for cancer or not.

4. Minimize risk

illustration of yoga in the elderly (freepik.com/freepik)

The risk of body changes and the onset of disease due to menopause should still be watched out for. Here are preventive measures that can be taken:

  • Get used to healthy living such as regular exercise. The recommendation is to exercise 3x50 minutes per week (total movement 150 minutes per week).
  • Eat healthy and nutritionally balanced food.
  • Eliminate habits such as smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages.

Before deciding to undergo any treatment, women should know that the risk of body changes and the risk of developing diseases due to menopause must be prevented in advance with healthy living habits.

5. Psychological distress factors

Menopausal women can also experience psychological disorders due to neurohormonal changes as well as physical symptoms. Some of the factors that influence the occurrence of psychological disorders include:

  • Previous history of psychological disorders.
  • Socioeconomic status.
  • Life events.
  • Smoking.
  • Attitudes and views towards menopause.

Menopausal women may experience the aforementioned symptoms, which have the potential to cause distress due to the changes in body perception that follow aging.

On the cognitive aspect, estrogen has neuroprotective properties through various mechanisms, such as regulating nerve cell growth and preventing cell death.

A decrease in estrogen levels will lead to a decrease in neuroprotective effects resulting in more frequent and greater neuronal cell death in the brain. This will lead to decreased memory performance and difficulty in communication. These cognitive impairments have the potential to cause distress.

There are also social changes that occur in menopausal women, including:

  • The emergence of empty nest syndrome, where children no longer live with their parents.
  • Financial and employment stability.
  • Level of education.
  • Level of independence and desire to be independent.
  • Violence against parents.
  • Changes in sexual desire.
  • Loneliness and feeling alone.
  • Society's demands on women.

These conditions can be internalized and trigger insecurity. This feeling will lead to a negative body image, which is a negative feeling towards her current condition.

6. The persistence of negative stigma

illustration of a woman of menopausal age (pexels.com/Ángel Ramírez F)

Preparing for menopause is very important because there are various problems that often occur. Most societies still give a negative stigma to menopausal women.

In addition, couples often lack education about this condition, so women often lack support and feel not understood by their partners and families. They also often have low self-confidence.

This condition has the potential to trigger psychological disorders, divorce cases, and family problems. Self-preparation and the environment are important in managing the stress that occurs during menopause and postmenopause.

  • Women need to realize that menopause is a phase experienced by almost every woman, so in going through this phase, they are not alone.
  • Women also need to realize that there are people close to them who provide support.
  • They also need to recognize and love themselves with all their strengths and weaknesses. If they want to make changes, women can set achievable targets that are within their capacity.
  • Women can seek help from health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists if there are difficulties in undergoing this phase.

The social environment is important in supporting women through the menopause phase to be more enjoyable. Couple therapy will be very helpful for couples who need to be nurtured in building communication and understanding between partners in order to create a harmonious relationship in undergoing menopause. It is important to treat menopausal women holistically.

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