Three Facts About The Menopause

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There are many myths surrounding the topic of the menopause. It's important that we address these head-on, so that you know what changes you can expect during midlife and, pehaps most importantly, when you can expect them.

Table of contents

Every woman goes through the menopause, without exception. Even if this topic is considered taboo by society, it is time to raise awareness and normalise it. Simply talking about the facts without feeling embarrassed is a huge help to those of us going through it.

Some people have more problems with getting older, for others it is ultimately just a number. Nevertheless, as we get older, just like when we are young, we undergo physical changes that Mother Nature has predetermined for us.

'The Big Picture' 

To understand what happens to our bodies during the menopause, we need to take a big leap backwards - to birth. The female body is born with around one million egg cells. These degrade slowly and are not reproduced. At the time of the first period, on average only half of the eggs, 500,000, are still present. The menopause begins with a phase called the perimenopause, which is initiated when around 50,000 eggs are left. As soon as all the eggs have been used up, our period ends. The supply of eggs therefore determines approximately when we enter our menopause.

Various tests can be used to determine which phase of the menopause we are in. One of these is the ‘anti-Müllerian hormone test’. This blood test determines how many eggs we still have in reserve. Please note: the test provides information about the quantity, but not the quality of the eggs.

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What do puberty and menopause have in common?

On average, the menopause begins in our 40s. As you already know, the first phase is known as the perimenopause. This phase is comparable to puberty and the associated start of menstruation, when the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone are produced by the egg cells. Even if puberty was quite a while ago, you may remember various symptoms: mood swings, irritability, sleep disorders or increased need for sleep, acne, pimples. These are all symptoms that result from hormonal changes. You may also remember that your cycle wasn't regular straight away. Sometimes your period came too early, sometimes it came too late. Statistically, it actually takes between five and seven years for our cycle to find its rhythm.

You can think of the menopause as going backwards to puberty, four to ten years before your actual last period. The eggs are slowly running out, with around 50,000 still available. As at the beginning of your first period, these are no longer fertilized and released evenly. From this point onwards, the hormones also lose their rhythm and cause the first symptoms. This does not mean the typical menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. Initial hormonal changes usually manifest themselves in mood swings, insomnia or a lack of energy. For you, this means that by the time you feel the first symptoms, your menopause has already begun.

The three most important facts summarised

  1. The menopause starts earlier than expected - around four to ten years before your last period.
  2. During this time, the protective effect of sex hormones decreases and prevention becomes an important issue. A healthy diet, low stress levels and mindfulness should play a major role in your life at this point.
  3. Last but not least: it's not a shameful topic! Every woman goes through the menopause, every woman. Which is neither bad nor embarrassing.