What Is Menopause?
Although a lot of women dread the day their menopause starts it’s actually not as bad as they think and should be taken lightly. Menopause is as natural as giving birth or getting pregnant. It is just another milestone in the aging process. There are 2 phases to menopause itself, the beginning stage – perimenopause and menopause. Perimenopause begins in the early to mid-40s and can affect a woman’s ability to reproduce. This means irregular menstrual cycles and a plethora of other side effects. One of the most profound being menopause and joint pain.
Although a woman is still fertile at this stage it is extremely difficult to conceive under these circumstances. A woman does not enter menopause stage until she goes 12 months without having her menstruation cycle, which usually happens around the age of 50 to 55. When this happens a woman’s hormones fluctuate and actually decrease gradually. The body is affected tremendously by these changes for example menopause affects a woman’s:
- Reproductive System
- Vaginal Tract
- Urinary System
- Nervous System
Minor Side Effects
When a woman enters the final stage (menopause) her body will go through a lot of changes. These changes include:
- Hormone changes: a woman won’t produce enough estrogen and progesterone due to her pituitary gland not manufacturing enough luteinizing, and follicle stimulating hormones.
- Cramps: Every woman’s best friend! Cramps! Changes in your pituitary gland may cause changes in your period. This can be followed by an excess amount of cramping more painful and intense than before. You may also find your menstrual flow heavier than usual.
- Pain During Sex: Oh no! To everyone’s disappointment menopause can make intimacy very challenging due to the amount of pain caused in a woman’s vaginal tract. There are ways to make your sex life slightly more pleasurable during menopause so never fear. Estrogen helps keep the vaginal tissues elastic, and as a woman enters menopause her estrogen levels deplete which causes discomfort.
Menopause And Joint Pain
Menopause can cause joint pain that can affect the knees, shoulders, neck, elbows, or hands. Old joint injuries may also begin to ache. As time goes on, you may start to notice that you feel more aches and pains in those areas that you are used to. That’s because estrogen helps reduce inflammation. As its levels decline, inflammation may increase, causing discomfort and menopause-related arthritis. Considering a woman can lose up to 20% of her bone-mineral density within 5 years of entering menopause, joint pain is very common in menopausal women. This brings up a different topic, Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis. It affects millions of people worldwide. Although it is not caused by menopause itself since women are more prone to getting osteoarthritis the depletion of estrogen worsens this condition.
What To Do When You Have Joint Pain?
So, should you worry if your joints are aching? Well, It might be a good idea to consult your doctor and get X-rays on painful joints, to confirm if it’s osteoarthritis. At your doctor’s appointment, be ready to give a good history of your own health so your doctor can have a more accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will probably examine the joint, check the range of motion and reflexes, and may order X-rays. If the diagnosis is osteoarthritis, treatment may include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and possibly also pain medication. If you’re overweight, dieting and also low-impact exercise may be recommended, as carrying around extra pounds wears out joints more quickly.