WorldWe need to talk more about menopause

We need to talk more about menopause

Menstruation is an annoyance for many women. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It’s bad news if you want a child, and excellent if you want the opposite. We women live with it for years, but one day we start to suffer minor disorders, it stops being regular and disappears. These signs are the warning that estrogens are dropping. Then a new stage opens, often taboo, with unknown consequences. It is not customary to talk about what happens to us, but the physical and mental changes, including moods, can be even greater than those we experience during adolescence. “The good news is that we can remedy its impact and gain quality of life. For that, it is necessary to ask for help from a specialist who will answer and clarify”, says doctor Santiago Palacios, founder of the first menopause unit in Spain in 1989.

Both men and women undergo changes during life due to our genetics. In the case of women, these changes are more profound for a very simple matter: we have duplicated the X chromosome, which houses 1,098 genes. Men have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome. To give you an idea, the Y chromosome has 78 genes, so that women have more than 1,000 different genes, which condition and define our body and our brain at birth. The drop in estrogens usually starts in middle age, between 45 and 55 years old; but sometimes it starts before. Men also experience a similar change, andropause, caused by a drop in testosterone. But because of the hormonal burden a woman has, menopause can have more serious consequences, says Lisa Mosconi, director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, on her sales success. The XX Brain.

Estrogens were discovered in the thirties of the last century, but their impact on the body and brain only began to be analyzed a few decades ago. When the process begins, 80% of women experience symptoms. Some mild and some more important, ranging from loss of sleep, mental confusion and irritability to greater vulnerability to major illnesses like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Mosconi indicates that women are twice as likely as men to suffer anxiety and depression, three times more likely to have multiple sclerosis and four times more likely to have migraines. In addition, two out of three Alzheimer’s patients are women. The emergence of such diseases with hormonal changes is being studied.

Menopause and andropause can have consequences on our personal and professional relationships. No wonder voices have begun to be raised about its impact on women. In 2018, a group of British MPs led by Rachel Maclean unearthed this social taboo. They talked about menopause and its impact on work. They proposed to include a review of working conditions to defend professionals who suffer the most adverse consequences. Following that line of work, this year they presented a report to the British Parliament this year that concluded that nearly a million women in the UK would have left their jobs because of the consequences of menopause.

This awareness has not yet echoed in companies and society. And menopause and andropause are natural processes. It is necessary to eliminate the taboo that surrounds them. In the case of women, it affects 850 million worldwide. It is estimated that we will live in this inverted second adolescence a third of our life, so it should not be associated with an aging syndrome. As doctor Esther Ramírez Medina, from the gynecology service of the Puerta de Hierro Hospital in Madrid, says, “menopause comes at the best professional and personal stage for many women, so we must not surrender to its consequences without a fight. Fortunately, there are many therapeutic alternatives to mitigate and treat your symptoms.” That’s why it’s important to recognize it, understand its effects, and ask for help to alleviate its symptoms and prevent future complications.

pillar Jericho she is the coordinator of the Laboratorio de felicidad blog.

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