World Menopause Day: Let's Give it the Importance it Deserves

People are often confused about the different phases of menopause and what they mean. That's why it's so important to celebrate World Menopause Day.
World Menopause Day: Let's Give it the Importance it Deserves
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 26 October, 2022

Every October 18 is World Menopause Day. Many times, confusion about terms leads women to be unclear about when they’re really going through pre-menopause, when they had or will have their menopause, and what perimenopause actually means.

Part of the World Menopause Day initiative is to shed light on a period that’s just another stage in women’s lives. It’s neither the end of active sexuality nor a pathological state, as was believed in many cultures for many years.

The human life cycle is made up of changes and transitions. The climacteric and menopause are spaces in time that each woman can learn to assimilate with various resources.

The concepts you should know

When we talk about menopause, it’s not always fully understood what we’re really referring to. Perhaps a woman is told that she’s already started the climacteric period in a medical consultation, for instance, but she doesn’t fully understand the implications of this.

Similarly, an article on the Internet may reveal that at the age of 45, most women go through menopause. Then, questions often arise in readers of that age. Does this mean that she can no longer conceive? What if she’s still menstruating?

After this year’s World Menopause Day, we’d like to take the opportunity to share the main concepts. After all, this is the first step to giving this stage the importance it deserves.

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Menopause

The Office of Women’s Health of the U.S. National Institutes of Health defines menopause as the definitive cessation of menstrual periods. That is, menopause occurs when the monthly bleeding cycle is no longer repeated, at least for the last 12 months.

The age of onset of menopause varies, as it depends on genetics, cultural and ethnic issues, as well as a person’s lifestyle habits. However, there are world averages that give an indication of the most likely time for women to stop their periods.

It’s estimated that in most European countries, menopuause usually occurs after the age of 51. In Mexico, the average age is 48. In Argentina, it’s 50.

As a world average, a normal age for a woman’s last period should be between 45 and 55. When bleeding disappears before the age of 45, early menopause is diagnosed, which is a condition that has hormonal consequences in the future.

a woman with bone problems during menopause
Menopause is associated with an increased risk of fractures and with a real possibility of developing osteoporosis.

Climacteric

The Argentine Association for the Study of Climacteric defines this concept as a progressive stage in a woman’s life through which she gradually loses her reproductive capacity. All climacteric changes lead to menopause itself – that is, the complete cessation of menstruation.

It’s interesting to know that the word “climacteric” comes from the Greek climater, which translates as “staircase.” Therefore, it’s logical to assume that the stage is the succession of steps that lead to something else. Essentially, we’re facing a transition from one form of life to another. This new form implies that there are no longer menstrual cycles.

We don’t have an exact date of onset in this case, either. There are usually climacteric symptoms from around 1 year before menstrual bleeding disappears until about one year after menopause.

Hot flashes or night sweats are typical symptoms of the climacteric period. These are feelings of intense heat that women experience at any time of the day, regardless of the body’s external temperature.

According to research, the explanation is that hormonal changes increase the expression of serotonin 5-HT2A receptors in the brain. Therefore, the stimulation of neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus throws the thermoregulatory center out of balance.

Like this article? You may also like to read: How To Take Care of Yourself During Menopause

Perimenopause

According to a publication in the journal Nature, perimenopause is a combination of physical, psychological, and neurological symptoms that begin with alterations in the regularity of menstrual cycles during the climacteric period that will lead to menopause. In other words, it’s not a defined stage, but a perception that surrounds this age.

Therefore, one woman may enter perimenopause much earlier than another, even if they share the date on which their cycles will cease. The decrease in estrogen concentration would be the main factor responsible for the symptoms.

In this case, it’s worth emphasizing that we’re not only talking about anatomical signs. The psychological aspect of perimenopause also plays a role. It has been shown that women go through this stage with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and depression in the medium term.

Why is it important to understand menopause and the climacteric stage?

Menopause is still a taboo subject in society. However, it’s increasingly accepted, and fortunately, there’s more information available that has allowed us to understand that healthy aging is a possible and beneficial process.

However, women often don’t end up finding valuable social support at this time of their existence. Job opportunities are fewer as the years go by, their sexuality is seen as declining, and attempts to start new hobbies or projects are often labeled as silly or not corresponding to “someone of their age.”

World Menopause Day asks for a wake-up call. Women don’t end their projects or hobbies when they turn 50. Nor are they left out of social life, couples, sports, and work. It’s not the time “to be grandmothers” and nothing more.

The social pressure surrounding the limiting social perception of this phase often brings anxiety and stress to women over 50. Not only do they have to deal with physical changes, but they also often face a lack of external support.

world menopause day
The climacteric period can be experienced positively. However, for this to happen on a more widespread level, society has to enhance its role in supporting women.

World Menopause Day seeks to help women revalue this period

The climacteric period lasts for several years. It’s a time of uncertainty, changes in the body, increased cardiovascular risk, greater possibilities of fractures, and of alterations in mood.

It’s also one more natural change in a woman’s life. World Menopause Day only takes place every 365 days. However, it seeks to bring awareness for a long period.

During this period, with sufficient social support, women can feel full, accompanied, and able to face new challenges. The end of reproductive capacity isn’t the end of a woman’s life. It merely symbolizes another step and a transition to another form of maturity.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.