Sooner or later the time comes for every woman. The time when she reaches the menopause. The menopause is when a woman has her last period. On average, women usually reach the menopause at the age of 50. This is only a rough estimate since some women are much younger than this and others are older when they reach the menopause. Women experience many physical changes up to their last period, and even beyond. The following section talks about the different stages of the menopause and the discomforts that may be experienced.
The years prior to the menopause are called the ‘pre-menopause’. Women between the age of 45 to 50 are usually in the pre-menopause. During this time, women start to notice that their periods are not as regular and occur less frequently. Usually the hormonal balance changes, for example, when less of the hormone progesterone is produced. This hormone prepares the female body for pregnancy, which is why pregnant women have a particularly high concentration of progesterone in their body. The closer a woman gets to the menopause, the less the body produces this hormone. Ovulation also becomes less frequent during this time.
Experts speak of the ‘perimenopause’ one to two years before and after the menopause. Fewer follicles in the ovaries mature, which is why ovulation rarely occurs. Women also experience disturbances to their periods during this time. At some point, their periods stop altogether. When this occurs, it is called the ‘menopause’. Even after the last period, the body needs time to adjust to its new hormonal state. This time period is also referred to as the ‘perimenopause’.
The time after the perimenopause is known as the ‘post-menopause’. This is when the body ultimately stops producing oestrogen and gestagen. On average, this phase generally lasts until the age of 65, depending on when the last period occurred.
What women experience before, during and after the menopause
As already indicated, women can only recognise the menopause through a change in their periods. For some women they become lighter, while for others they become heavier. Periods are usually irregular and bleeding between periods is also quite common. The time spans between individual periods get longer. Sooner or later, they stop altogether. At first, women tend to hardly notice the changes at all. As they approach their last period, these changes become more pronounced. The typical symptoms of the menopause include:
- Hot flushes and sweating: up to two-thirds of all women experience uncomfortable hot flushes and sweating during the changes caused by the menopause. A wave of heat spreads through the whole body and is usually accompanied by strong heart palpitations. This is probably due to hormonal changes. Women typically have these hot flushes for only one or two years.
- Vaginal dryness: the mucous membranes respond to the lower oestrogen levels. That’s because the hormone oestrogen is actually responsible for supplying the mucous membranes with blood and keeping them moist – especially in the genital area. The mucous membranes become dry and extremely sensitive. Hence many women experience vaginal dryness. Itching and burning in the genital area, pain during intercourse or even in everyday life are problems that affect women suffering from vaginal dryness. Personal lubricants can reduce the symptoms of vaginal dryness. They can moisturise the genital area and thus reduce the unpleasant side effects of vaginal dryness.
pjur med lubricants are suitable for daily use in the highly sensitive genital mucosa. Silicone-based personal lubricants, such as pjur med PREMIUM glide, remain on the surface and ensure extra long-lasting lubrication. The water-based personal lubricants from pjur med are made from natural and nature-identical ingredients and are therefore also suitable for the very sensitive genital mucosa. pjur med VEGAN glide, for example, is produced using only vegan ingredients and is not tested on animals. It bears the seal of the Vegan Society.
- Mood swings: many women going through the menopause also suffer from mood swings. Instead of experiencing emotional highs, they generally end up feeling depressed and irritable. This is also related to the hormonal changes during the menopause that affect the hypothalamus and thus also the limbic system, which is responsible for our emotions.
- Sleeping problems: whether it’s the nightly hot flushes or the stress of everyday life that keeps one from being able to rest – many women complain about sleeping problems during all menopausal stages.
- Dizziness: the body’s physical processes are also controlled by hormones. If a woman’s hormone levels change during the menopause, it can lead to dizziness.
All in all, the menopause causes major discomfort among around one-third of all women. A further third experiences medium levels of discomfort, while the remainder experience few symptoms at all.