Dr. Gunjan Jain On Menopause And The Importance Of Awareness And Family Support In Easing The Phase
- IWB Post
- February 5, 2019
Of late, my cousin Gia has been complaining a lot about her mom throwing “unnecessary tantrums” and “always going around the house with a depressed face.” “I am just done, I can’t live in this depressing house anymore,” she told me last week. What’s even scarier is that her husband has been making the same claims.
My aunt would be turning 48 this week and I am sure it hasn’t occurred to anybody in her family that all her emotional outbursts and depression might be a result of menopause. Frankly, that’s a possibility that even I didn’t think of (I even counselled her last month to be more cheerful and find something to do instead of sitting idle at home) until I talked to Dr. Gunjan Jain.
A well-hailed gynecologist, obstetrician, and IVF specialist, Dr. Gunjan has been extensively working towards creating awareness about menopause and its effect on the female body and psyche.
In a recent chat that I had with her, she discussed at length the causes of menopause, effects of the same on a women’s mind and body, and how awareness and family support can help a woman glide through the phase.
Here are excerpts:
Let’s begin by developing a practical understanding of menopause. Why does it happen and what are some of the common symptoms and effects?
Menopause is a very prolonged period which occurs owing to the depleting estrogen levels in the female body and has long lasting effects. The female body is quite used to estrogen and thus finds it hard to adjust once the hormone starts getting depleted. The symptoms of which can range between physical to psychological, including hot flashes, urinary problems, feeling dull, emotional and sometimes even depression.
Menopause is a mentally and physically agonizing phase for a woman. What role does the family support play here?
It is not a disease, it is a change that the family fails to understand and ends up saying things like “she is being over emotional,” “she is going through a midlife crisis,” etc. However, they fail to understand that she is not doing it deliberately. Thus, the woman goes through it all alone. She is already adjusting to a number of changes and this lack of understanding and indifference ends up troubling her even more.
How can this be resolved? How can we take the family in the loop?
Awareness is key here. The only way to ease this phase is by getting more aware about the same, which is integral for both the woman and the family. They have to understand it is not an illness like a week-long fever bout, and that it is an inevitable physiological change. It becomes easier and simple if they know about it. Educating the family is important, they need to be told that, “she will go through it and it will eventually and most certainly get better.” When the woman and family understand this, they cope with it better.
Speaking of awareness, there also is a lack of understanding among Indian women when it comes to their own bodies and health. How adversely does this impact women in our country during menopause?
Women going through menopause go through a lot of menstrual problems and when their irregular cycles start bothering them, they simply opt for a hysterectomy and get their uterus removed. However, there are other symptoms and problems that need to be answered separately for which hysterectomy is not an answer.
Fifty-one is the average age of the onset of menopause in India. Most of the women face it between 45-55. If we recognize it much earlier and start paying proper attention to physical fitness and start going for general check-ups, then this whole phase can be made much easier.
There are two categories of women undergoing menopause. The first is the category that can be counseled about the changes and helped. However, there are also those who need to be given an HRT or the Hormone Replacement Therapy to ease the phase for them but how can we help them if they are not even aware of what’s happening and fail to take professional help?
In that case, let’s talk about some pre-menopausal and post-menopausal self-care routines which can help women.
Working on one’s preventive health becomes very important after a certain age. When one realises that all these changes are happening because the good effects of estrogen are not there anymore then they are more at ease as they are aware of why all that’s happening is actually happening.
Screening tests for cervical and breast cancer should also be done. Women often show up to doctors after panicking with the most basic of the fibroids because they are not well aware of their bodies. However, when they go for regular examinations for the same and indulge in activities like self-breast examinations etc. they are mentally more at ease.
Even after the body gets used to menopause, women should continue going for regular checkups for a long and healthy life.
What are some of the traditional and non-traditional line of treatments which can help women during the phase?
We have already discussed HRT. If we talk about natural remedies, then making your life more regulated after a certain age definitely helps. Women should opt for strength training as it is the only way to keep the bones strong and stay off the harmful effects of osteoporosis. Meditation, yoga, and a balanced diet, all help. Food items like soya, wheatgrass, and sprouted legumes contain nutrients which have the same effect on the body like estrogen, and thus are really helpful.