Menstrual health for the woman over 40

Menopause is defined as twelve consecutive months without a monthly period. The period before menopause is known as perimenopause. These two phases of life are many women would rather not talk about as most of us put our premium and attractiveness as women based on fertility. The emotional and social aspects of this ‘turn of life’ are a whole month focus area and true professional expertise needed to navigate this emotive topic. This week we will just have a run at the physical changes anticipated in the menstrual cycle of the older woman as an end to the sexual wellness month 2020.

In Kenya, the average age of menopause or rather the final menstruation period is 51.5 years. In rural Kenya, data suggests that the median age at menopause is 48.28 years. Sometimes early menopause will occur usually between the ages of 40 to 45. That is perfectly normal. The average age for an American woman to reach menopause is 52 years. Typically American women experience menopause between 45 to 58 years of age.

A woman’s period is directly related to the surges of two hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Perimenopause is the transition period between normal periods and full menopause. Menopause occurs when a woman goes for 12 consecutive months without a period.

Perimenopause and menopause are natural transitions of life and are part of the aging process. Just like menarch that is the beginning of one’s menstrual period, ones experiences during ones monthly periods, the experiences, signs of perimenopause and menopause will differ from one woman to another.

“So what are some of the expected changes in a woman’s monthly period after the big 40?” is focus area bringing an end to the month when the blog focused on sexual wellness.

The following are some expected changes in a woman’s period after she turns forty and enters into the perimenopausal stage. Periods may become less frequent, scantier and lighter. Skipped periods are also a sign of deteriorating egg quality.

Sometimes the periods may become shorter, heavier and closer due to the oestrogen and progesterone hormone surges. Sometimes the egg is released on time that is ovulation is on time in which case the period comes on time, sometimes the period may come in late due to late ovulation, sometimes there may be no period as there was no egg released that is no ovulation took place. Despite no ovulation taking
place the uterus lining continues to grow even with a missed ovulation hence a heavier flow when ovulation happens.

Other changes in women’s menstrual experience over 40;
Premenstrual syndrome that is mood and emotional changes associated with our menstrual cycle may become very drastic. Due to closer and stronger surges of oestrogen and progesterone, cramps my get worse Just like teenage hood skin break outs e.g. pimples before the menstrual period may occur.

Hot flashes and night sweats due to hormonal fluctuations may occur.
Vaginal dryness, discomfort or pain during sex
Pressing need to urinate more frequently.
Less interest in sex.

During perimenopause one is less fertile but one can still get pregnant. Also consider because the eggs are decreasing in quality this may result in genetic mistakes in your unborn child also miscarriages may be high. By all means use birth control if it is not your desire to get pregnant.

A woman’s period offers a lot of insights into her overall health if they become highly irregular or if there are drastic changes in the amount of flow these could signal other health concerns. Every woman’s perimenopause or menopause experience varies. Make regular consultations with your obs gynae or family physician to ensure that you are in good health and to navigate through this period of perimenopause and menopause.

A lot of negatives have been said about menopause yet many women have taken this turn in life positively;

No more periods. No more guessing off whether periods will come or not during perimenopause. Hence no more need for pads or tampons. No more fear of leakage when wearing a light colored outfit. No more ‘period panties’ so to speak. One can wear white forever. Whoop! Whoop! No more PMSing. That is no more Pre Menstrual Syndrome. No emotional and physical symptoms associated with a period.
No more fear of unanticipated pregnancies. Hence one can have sex without fear of getting pregnant. Hormone induced headaches come to an end. Fibroids that is uterine tumours shrink.

Children are normally grown at this time. Hence a time to take stock – professional and personal stock. A time of self assurance. A time to pursue personal goals that one had never thought of. A time to take risks and do all things that one had dared to do; switch careers, try online dating, be more adventurous, care for ones health, a time for bonding with other women. It is a blessing to experience all the seasons of life, a privilege not granted to all. This brings an end to July 2020, the end of the annual sexual wellness month in www.wachanikwambie blog, Kenya where we find ourselves smack in the midst of a global pandemic, “Love, Intimacy and Sex in the times of ‘Rona”‘ and where we ended with “Menstrual Health for women over 40.” in gratitude to the Almighty as Kwambie celebrates 30 awesome years
since her first period.

Information compiled by Kwambie Nyambane. August 2020.
“Wacha niKwambie”
July 2020 – Menstrual Health for women over 40
© Kwambie Nyambane.
July 2020

Keep safe. Maintain the social distance. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Wear a mask properly when out in public places. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc, drink lots of water, exercise, remain connected and positive with family and friends. To those afflicted, we wish you all a speedy recovery. To those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic period, our heartfelt condolences. We shall overcome corona Covid-19. Wishing you all awesome sexual health and wellness during ‘Rona and beyond.