Menopause, a natural and inevitable stage in a woman or individual’s life, is often clouded by a veil of societal stigma and misunderstanding. Even though there’s enough awareness now regarding female health issues, topics like menstruation and menopause are still taboo. A day has been dedicated to raise awareness of menopause, break the stigma, and talk about the support options available for improving health and well-being. World Menopause Day is held every year on the 18th of October. The theme for this year is cardiovascular disease. The reproductive health of a person can affect their cardiovascular health and thus, it is an important aspect of menopause that women and persons assigned female at birth (AFAB) need to be aware of.

Menopause is a condition when an individual doesn’t get a period for 12 months and they start experiencing hormonal changes, mood changes, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, etc. that are early symptoms of menopause. According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), menopause may begin around the age of 40 to 58 years in developed countries. It marks the natural decline of an individual’s reproductive hormones. Menopause lasts a long time and the condition of perimenopause starts up to a year before menopause which can be uncomfortable and last for a decade.

World Menopause Day October 18

Also Read: World Mental Health Day Special: Discussing The Impact Of Heartbreak On Mental Health

Women and persons assigned female at birth (AFAB) are still unable to discuss menopause even though it is a natural part of their health. As the youth, it is important to know what your mother or elder women and individuals around you go through to better aid them and offer support. Dr Sabiha Inamdar is a qualified medical practitioner who addresses many such issues through her social media.

She is an ICF Certified Life coach and content creator who talks about sex education. She runs her own enterprise called Dr. Sabiha’s Coaching and Consulting (DSCC) which offers sessions on sex and intimacy, communication and a journey of self-discovery. You can book a session with her through her website. The Social Nation team got a chance to speak to Dr Sabiha Inamdar on this special day to get clarity on a couple of questions relating to menopause. Read on to know more.

Dr. Sabiha sex coach menopause

What are the most common symptoms of menopause? Any pre-menopausal symptoms?

“Common symptoms of menopause include menstrual periods that occur less often or eventually stop for consecutive 12 months. Heart pounding, racing, hot flashes – it’s usually worst during the first 1-2 years. Some other symptoms include night sweats, your skin flushing, sleep problems – insomnia, decreased interest in sex or changes in your sexual response. In fact, in some cases, there can be a higher sex drive.

Forgetfulness, brain fog, headache, mood swings, irritability, anxiety – some may land up into depression also. Weak bladder control, very high vaginal dryness, sexual intercourse becomes painful, there is a likely possibility of having vaginal infections, a higher scope of osteoporosis, hormonal imbalance, joint aches and pain, and irregular heartbeat are the usual symptoms.

Is there any way of reducing the symptoms?

“A lot of ‘gyaan’ is available on Google and through doctors here and there but there is no thumb rule that it’ll be applicable for all. Me being at 46, and actually practising it, I can very confidently tell you that it’s not necessary that all symptoms will occur for sure. Having a very active lifestyle, not your routine job, but wiring your brain to do some fresh activities/ hobbies that you haven’t done in all these years, helps. Anything that involves physical movements of the body and mind-body emotion, that engages the mind and body into doing something you are passionate about, then the intensity of the menopause symptoms will definitely decrease. Remember, menopause is just a condition, not an illness. It’s a phase which will pass.”

Do you need regular checkups once you hit menopause?

“Don’t wait for your body to hit the perimenopausal or menopause stage. The moment you cross 35, go to an OBGYN and get a complete health profile check-up done once a year which includes sonography, pap smear, screening and hormonal tests, lipid profile, liver profile, mammography, et al. Don’t just rely on blood investigation, getting a detailed clinical examination by a reputed OBGYN is very important. By doing this at an early stage, you know what are your normal conditions. As you grow older, your vulva and vagina will go through many changes. So, you need to know what normal looks like to understand those changes.”

Dr Sabiha menopause

Are there any natural supplements that one should take to treat these symptoms?

“I strongly recommend having a consultation with your OBGYN first and only if required and if prescribed, take multivitamins like Vitamin C, B12, E and calcium tablets. But never self-medicate. If your investigation shows that the values are below normal, only then do you need supplements under proper observation.”

Is there something that the family can do when a woman in the house is experiencing menopause?

“First of all a space needs to be created amongst family members where you can openly talk about menopause. The individuals going through this phase need to verbally communicate whatever they are going through. Take your family along when you visit your gynaec so they also understand the emotional and physical turbulences you go through.

Train your family in terms of what you need and what you don’t because along with medical care, you need emotional support too. At times when you’re genuinely angry about something and your family casually calls it a ‘mood swing,’ it can sound very hurtful – which is something the family members should be considerate about. If your mom, sister or wife is going through this, your silent and emotional support matters the most. Do not dissect their mood swings and behavioural changes, just be there for them.”

menopause Dr. Sabiha family

Should you reduce having any sexual intimacy with your partner during menopause?

“No. Absolutely not. Your sex drive might be fluctuating but maybe your partner’s isn’t. You might not be as active in the intimacy act but you can be a passive participant to your partner. It’s a myth that your sex drive will reduce for sure. There is no thumb rule, it may or may not – it differs from person to person. If you wish to have sex, do it. If not, there are many non-penetrative forms of intimacy. Don’t let the intimacy die during this phase. Menopause means a pause in your menstrual cycle, not intimacy.”

Can you get pregnant during menopause? Are you still at risk of STIs?

“If you are fully menopausing, then one plus point is that you will not get pregnant because of which many couples can enjoy intimacy well. In the perimenopausal state, there is a low fertility rate because the ovaries are not producing eggs as much but there is a possibility of you getting pregnant.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) have nothing to do with menopause. You are still prone to get them. So, using protection is not just beneficial to avoid pregnancy but it is the safest way to avoid STIs. You can use dental dams and male/ female condoms. Maintaining good hygiene and cleaning up after an intimate act is very important.”

This was an extremely insightful discussion that opened our eyes to many facts. Transforming societal attitudes towards menopause requires a collective effort. By recognizing and celebrating the wisdom, experience, and vitality of women and individuals beyond their reproductive years, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all of them to thrive during and after menopause. Happy World Menopause Day!