Nothing good about early menopause, young Indian women must put their health first
According to a new survey by The Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), roughly four percent of women in India begin to menopause between the ages of 29 and 34,
Menopause in your 20s? It's very likely, if you are an Indian woman. That is the bad news.
The good news is that a premature menopause feels just like natural menopause, from the symptoms to the mood swings. Except, of course, that it now comes at a time in a woman’s life, when she is more girl than granny.
According to a new survey by The Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), roughly four percent of women in India begin to menopause between the ages of 29 and 34, and eight percent between the ages of 35 and 39. When compared to our Western sisters — who begin menopause from mid-40s to mid-50s, averaging at 51 — the desi cry of ‘no more periods’ is emerging from younger women.
Early menopause means that all the discomforts of natural menopause hit the body in advance. Female sex hormones — estrogen and progesterone — get scanty, leaving the body prone to hot flushes; then there are others such as mild to embarrassing incontinence, itchy skin, UTI, vaginal dryness/atrophy... Reduced libido, moodiness and depression are other side effects of this hormonal change that no woman can have late enough.
Menopause begins with irregular periods. Till one fine day 12 months have elapsed since you last bought sanitary napkins or tampons or menstrual cups — menopause has officially begun. This gradual shift, called change of life or climacteric, is now being noticed by some women in their late 20s and early 30s.
At the top of the slide is pre-menopause, when one or some of the symptoms may begin to make an appearance, at the middle is perimenopause, which is a trailer of what menopause will really be like, and at the bottom is post-menopause, the real thing. Once women hit menopause, they can sit back and make a list of their changes, highly individual to each, and compare notes with other women. Usually this coincides with the teen brat at home going away to the hostel or the husband retiring from work to be captive audience to menopause woes in some detail. But with the menopause date being advanced, there might be toddlers about or a divorce going on and you’ll be unable to blame anything on PMS anymore.
For most women, menopause is sometimes a blanket term for all that is going wrong with their bodies and lives, but to accurately guess that their symptoms can be scientifically charged to 'the change' is a rare occurrence at any given age. Even when menopause hits at the right age, women go ‘huh?’, so any early sightings will only be met with disbelief or ignorance.
In India, topics such as sex, birth control and childbirth are still considered to be taboo, so that younger and younger women who are going through menopause before their time would not recognise any of its indicators.
After a traditional disadvantage of good food served only to men till as recent as our grandmothers’ times, modern lifestyles too are said to deny nutrition to women, with less time for wholesome cooking and junk food becoming more accessible. Smoking, drinking, thyroid problems, premature ovarian failure, radiation... anything can interfere with menstrual cycles. And while it may even sound somewhat attractive to never bleed again — for which woman’s face lights up while saying, ‘I just got my period'? — womankind has to consider the long-term repercussions of such drying up.
The warning from the survey is timely. Indian women must take that foot off the age accelerator. Young or old, she must prioritise uterine health.
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