Actor and presenter Iffat Omar delved into the nuances of menopause the latest episode of The Good Life Show co-hosted by Saamiya Raazi. Addressing the stigma surrounding a natural biological process experienced by many women, Iffat highlighted the need to create safe and healthy avenues to raise awareness.
“Now that life expectancy has increased, you typically spend a third of your life in the menopause stage,” Iffat began, emphasizing the urgency of this discussion. Menopause, often referred to as “the change,” is the result of a gradual decline in the production of three key hormones, “estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone,” according to Dr. Saamiya.
This hormonal shift brings about various physical and emotional symptoms. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and vaginal dryness are some of the most common symptoms that occur during menopause. It can be a difficult time for many women as they adjust to these changes.
“What changes does the body undergo as it goes from puberty to perimenopause, menopause, and then postmenopause?” Iffat raised the crucial question, conveying her personal experiences. In response, Dr. Saamiya pointed to the “cascades up and down” caused by changing hormone levels over the years.
“After menarche, women enter the ‘next stage’ of their lives. To be pregnant or not to be pregnant? Should I continue my studies or not? This is another stage characterized by rapid volatility,” he added. “To get pregnant, you need certain concentrations of hormones to do that.”
The health professional further explained how hormonal changes vary alongside social conventions and expectations. “You give birth and your family is complete now and you think you’ve entered the easy phase of your life at, say, 35 or 37. As you approach 40, you face new problems.”
According to Saamiya, this is when you enter menopause and your hormones start to “wane”. However, she also clarified that some women may experience perimenopausal symptoms as early as their mid-20s due to the increasing levels of toxins and artificial hormones entering our lifestyles.
Menopause symptoms aren’t always easy to spot, as Iffat recalls only realizing she had reached this stage much later. To administer proper care, Dr. Saamiya advised women to primarily look out for dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB) which signals a change in the overall length of a menstrual cycle.
“This means that sometimes you will only have a period after two weeks and other times you won’t have one for three months. Sometimes you may only bleed for two days, the next cycle you may experience unusually heavy bleeding,” she said, adding that DUBs are usually accompanied by mental fog and low concentration.
A key aspect of menopause is its effect on the aging process. During menopause, bone density can decrease, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Cardiovascular health can also be affected as estrogen plays a protective role in heart health. To manage these health concerns, it is important for women to maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet. Additionally, consultation with a health care provider can help assess and mitigate specific risks.
Reiterating the need to talk openly about menopause, the hosts highlighted how most people shy away from talking about it. “Nobody wants to talk about it. My classmates in school and college who I know are my age pretend to be younger than them,” Saamiya revealed how women fake their age to avoid the stigma of menopause.
“If even women don’t own it, how can we expect anything to change?” she added.
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