Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. The menopausal transition starts with fluctuating menstrual cycle length and ends with the final menstrual period. Perimenopause is often used to refer to the menopausal transitional period. It is not officially a medical term but is sometimes used to explain certain aspects of the menopause transition in lay terms. Postmenopausal is a term used to refer to the time after menopause has occurred. The average age of menopause is 51 in the United States but it may occur as early as the 40s or as late as the 60s.
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when the function of the ovaries ceases and she can no longer become pregnant. The ovary is a female reproductive organ in where eggs (ova) are produced. It is the main source of female hormones, which control the development of female body characteristics such as the breasts, body shape, and body hair. The hormones also regulate the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
Although menopause is a natural biological process, the decrease in female hormones causes many physical and emotional symptoms such as Irregular periods, Vaginal dryness, Hot flashes, Night sweats, Sleep problems, Mood changes, Weight gain, slowed metabolism, Thinning hair, dry skin, and Loss of breast fullness.
Hot flashes are one of the common symptoms that menopausal women experience. It is a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body that lasts from 30 seconds to several minutes. Hot flashes are often most pronounced in the head and chest. Although the exact cause of hot flashes is not fully understood, it is likely due to a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations brought on by declining estrogen (female hormone) levels.
The postmenopausal women are also at risk of developing Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, increasing the risk of sudden and unexpected fractures. There is a direct relationship between the lack of estrogen after menopause and the development of osteoporosis.
For treatment, there are hormone therapy and alternative (natural) treatments. Isoflavones are chemical compounds found in soy and other plants that are phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogens). They have a chemical structure that is similar to the estrogens naturally produced by the body. Two types of isoflavones, genistein and daidzein, are considered to be the most potent estrogens of the phytoestrogens. Studies have shown that these compounds may help relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. In particular, women who have had breast cancer and do not want to take hormone therapy (HT) with estrogen sometimes use isoflavones for a relief of menopausal symptoms.