New Delhi: The number of menopausal and postmenopausal women in the world is anticipated to reach 1.2 billion by 2030, with 47 million new members joining each year. But because of shame or fear, many women experience uncomfortable but manageable menopausal symptoms in silence. In India, menopause typically occurs at the age of 46.2 compared to 51 in western nations.
The health, wellbeing, and general quality of life of a woman are all greatly impacted by this change. Women's social lives, according to 33 percent of them, have suffered as a result of menopause.
Women are more susceptible to psychological side effects such as sadness, anxiety, sleep loss, and exhaustion in addition to usual physical symptoms (such as hot flashes and night sweats). Mood problems provide additional difficulties since they might cause you to feel more irritable, have trouble concentrating (or "brain fog"), and have reduced self-esteem, all of which can impair your capacity to cope in general.
So, what steps can you take to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of menopause?
Break the silence - you don't have to go through it alone. Speaking up about your symptoms with family or friends can help you seek the support you need without delay. Whether this is by confiding in your partner or bonding with a friend, it can help you feel less isolated and boost your mood7.
More so, your close family can prove to be a vital support system in many ways - socially and emotionally, including by understanding how your symptoms affect your daily life. They can also help by bridging communication gaps, and even by helping more at home. This could be taking up more chores or supporting your lifestyle changes like joining in your daily exercise routine7.
Breaking the silence at home can also give you the confidence needed to approach your doctor about any discomfort experienced. In addition, there is a whole range of treatments available to address symptoms associated with menopause, so it's always beneficial to consult your doctor.
Protect your mental health - Menopause can have a profound impact on your daily life by inducing mood changes, lack of motivation, stress, and mental health problems5.
Prior to menopause, hormonal changes for women typically begin in their 40s and last around four years or even up to a decade. This period can overlap with significant mental health effects. During this transition, the incidence of depression doubles, and women are more likely to experience panic attacks. In case of severe effects on one's daily life, seeking professional help to manage this is advised.
Common treatment approaches related to mental health include counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy, which can help you manage the anxiety associated with menopause8. This addresses your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which can also link back to the intensity of your physical symptoms8. To manage stress levels, you can also try relaxation techniques including mindfulness meditation.
Start the conversation at work - During menopause, 45 percent of women struggle at work due to reduced productivity. If you're feeling isolated, disengaged or lacking motivation, talking to your colleagues and peers can be the first step to feeling more at ease while you work.
Try starting the conversation about how your symptoms are coming in the way of your daily work - you may end up hearing from people with similar experiences and how they managed it. At the same time, adopt steps you think could help, including taking breaks when you can or having a desk fan to alleviate hot flashes.
Building a support system at your workplace may help you manage the symptoms better and take charge of your health as well as your career.
Find community support - Support systems - be it friends, family or other women in your community or social circles- offer a powerful and empowering way to connect and engage with people undergoing similar experiences7.
"The menopausal transition can be an extremely challenging time for women. At Abbott, we are committed to transforming lives for the better through our healthcare solutions and by spearheading patient-focused initiatives for holistic care. With independently run menopause centers of care, patient awareness programs and doctor-patient engagement platforms, we intend to drive meaningful conversations so women can be empowered to fully embrace this stage of their life and live it fully," said Dr. Jejoe Karan Kumar, Director, Medical Affairs at Abbott.
You may cope with the menopause's rollercoaster emotions and physician changes by taking such actions, including as talking to your family and doctor, developing support networks in your neighbourhood and at work, and finding strategies to manage stress. Menopause is a natural process that all women go through. As you welcome the following chapter of your life, these steps can assist you in navigating this wave of change.
(Dr. Meeta Singh is former president, Indian Menopause Society & Dr. Jejoe Karankumar is Director, Medical Affairs at Abbott)