Much like menstruation, menopause is also the truth of a woman’s life. We know this as the phase when a woman stops getting her period. But biologically it is also defined as a time when the ovaries decrease the level of hormones it was previously producing and the lining of the uterus and endometrium becomes very thin.
These hormone levels do not drop suddenly; rather, they decrease gradually over a period. This period is known as the perimenopausal period and may begin anytime between 5- 10 years before the periods stop completely.
The average age of menopause is 51 years across the world, but Indian women develop menopause earlier than their Western counterparts. The average age of menopause in Indian women is between 45 to 49 years.
1. Pre-menopause: This is the period before the actual cessation of periods and is usually three to five years long. But in some cases, it can start earlier and last longer.
2. Menopause: This when periods completely stop for at least one year.
3. Post-menopausal period: Life after the cessation of menses is known as the post-menopausal period.
If women have menopause before 37 years, it is called early menopause. And if it continues into the 50s, then it is late menopause.
What can you do to stay healthy in the perimenopausal period of your life?
A balanced diet is particularly important for menopausal women. Recent studies have shown that a plant-based diet is healthier and helps to keep your weight, diabetes and blood pressure in control. Fresh leafy green vegetables, dry fruits, milk, and dairy products should be included in your diet.
The traditional Indian diet with its different spices like turmeric, ginger, coriander, asafoetida, and fenugreek have many medicinal properties. They help in controlling diabetes, high blood pressure and improve bone health as well as digestion. They also contain natural oestrogens which help in reducing some of the troublesome symptoms of menopause.
Milk and dairy products help in maintaining bone health and keep your gut healthy.
These habits are unhealthy at every stage of life. They lead to many illnesses like high blood pressure, heart disease, lung cancer, osteoporosis, poor appetite, and deficiency of nutrients (which lead to more medical problems).
They also interfere with sleep and circadian rhythm and lead to ill health and worsen menopausal symptoms
Develop a healthy sleep and rest cycle. Inadequate rest and sleep leads to increased risk of developing co-morbidities like high blood pressure and diabetes
Exercise keeps the heart, circulation, respiratory system, bones, muscles, and all other organs healthy. Yoga is an exceptionally good form of lifestyle and exercise and promotes good health. They promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and keep depression at bay.
If you are overweight, you are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, osteoporosis, and sleep apnoea (interruptions in respirations during sleep).
This will help in early detection of menstrual irregularities. Any problems of the reproductive tract will be picked up and managed in time. You can still get pregnant in the premenopausal period. So, talk to your doctor about contraception suitable for you.
Do not depend on hearsay and ignore your menstrual problems as you may miss a pregnancy or even delay the diagnosis of a more serious illness.
Healthy lifestyle and mindful living will lead to a healthy menopausal life and your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.