“Menopause is transitional-phase, not disease”

Author :Dr Amrinder Bajaj
Penguin Random House
Pages 209.
Price Rs 299
Laying emphasis on having a regular balanced diet and exercising in a routine, she advices women with symptoms of menopause, she said many women come across multiple embarrassing situations where they even dread laughing for the reason that they urinate in clothes. This she said is not a disease and stops many women from socialising and make them slip into depression. A simple uroflometry test enables doctors to understand problem and either with medication or a simple surgery bladder control is restored. Some allied medications that doctor in the book recommended to her patient Meera fixed her genitourinary system making her restore her self-esteem. That’s a must read.
Dr Bajaj informed that instead of self-medications or listening to half-baked advices of colleagues one must seek proper medical consultations and save themselves from unnecessary problems, solutions of which exists with Doctors. This, she added improves the quality of life. Referring to sexual needs and woman’s response, the Doctor said it’s more related to feelings, relationship and partner’s age and health. This she said holds true for pre or post menopause. She advises that both partners must work out on their relationship or seek counselling. For widows or single mothers undergoing issues of decreased or increased sexual desires, she suggests there are ways and stores in the market but that’s only possible if women don’t feel sinful or shameful and take matter into their own hands.
The world observes October 18 as World Menopause Day and we must ensure that people are made aware of this transitional phase which is nothing but a simple management that not only improves quality of life but also strengthens relationships while giving women a complete freedom to live their life to the fullest without any guilt or lost esteem. People, she said though take this as a physical change yet refuse to seek medical advices only to make them suffer because of their half-baked knowledge or ‘Googled medical advices’ that vary from time to time and patient to patient.
Having dealt with cases wherein she helped her clients have babies at very late stages of their lives, Dr Amrinder Bajaj in her book referred to her friend Mona’s case of delivering a healthy baby. Having checked everything about physical wellbeing of patient, she advices her of chances of gestational diabetes, hypertension, down-syndrome in would be baby, miscarriage, intrauterine growth-restricted babies, pattern delivery, low birth weight, placental issues and even still-birth or caesarean sections. Being at her patient’s beck and call, gold medalist Dr Bajaj who’s a practicing senior gynaecologist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), Gurugram she has managed many such late age yet safe deliveries.
She goes on to narrate anecdotes and stories adding that romance between the couples never dies post menopause. She while narrating a story of two strangers said, “once an old man and woman who during their conversations about missing their deceased spouses came close and virtually married each other only with the understanding that they would be buried next to their original spouses after their deaths”. This she has narrated beautifully with a poem that’s worth a read in the book. To some other medical issues confronted by women even in their 50s, primarily that of an irregular uterus, studded with fibroids that make many pass on blood clots, she advices their removal after consultations with Doctors and gave reference of her character Shiela in the book.
Vocal against Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) at the very onset, Dr Bajaj said that instead of increasing the risk of certain serious conditions like heart disease, stroke, blood clots or breast cancer, women during menopause must change their lifestyle habits and manage longevity. By quitting smoking, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, spicy foods, eating healthy, taking calcium and vitamin supplements, maintaining a healthy body weight, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, keeping BP, sugar and cholesterol in check, doing regular exercise and remaining sexually active besides pursuing their passion of being religiously inclined, painting, writing or even gossiping with friends one can effectively manage Me-No-Pause. Means, they won’t pause their lives for no reasons.
The Doctor went on to advice regular cardiac and breast check-ups, not to panic minor memory losses which are reversible, brisk walk to strengthen bones especially for aged and seek medical advice time to time. She cautioned women of bearing-down sensations or difficulties in passing urine or even stool revealing that the sign could be of uterus-vaginal prolapse and advices seeking medical advice. For elders who with age begin to recall their old days, travel in their past lives, stare blankly or deal with forgetfulness, she advices taking very good care of them adding that it could be dementia but can be taken care of by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or drugs prescribed by psychiatrists or sleep experts. The Doctor describes this as “an age where your secrets are safe with your friends….they can’t remember them either”.
Referring to pre or post menopause changes, Dr Bajaj said that certain psychological changes like mood swings, memory loss, fatigue, nervousness, headache, depression or crying spells can be overcome to lead a good life but regular visual check-ups of breasts, palpation, clinical breast examination, mammography, positron emission tomography scan and MRI can save precious lives from breast cancers. She also vouches for women getting vaccinated against cervical cancer. Wrinkled skin, dry skin, age spots, thinking of scalp hair, hair on chin, warts and moles, poor wound healing and even skin cancer are some of the changes or issues that women might deal with in their later ages but this all are again management issues that can be overcome with able medical advice.
To sum up Dr Bajaj lays emphasis on living life to the full. Doing whatever heart and soul says, eating healthy, managing issues by doctor’s consultations, getting regular medical check-ups and most importantly accepting what can’t be reversed and understanding that menopause is just a transitional phase of life and not a disease. She goes on to advice that smoking and drugs is a big ‘NO’ ‘NO’ for women of all ages and customary saying even alcohol should be avoided but those who can’t resist must switch over to wine or reduce their consumption to fortnightly or even monthly. This, she said will not only save lives but also adds quality to life.
(The writer is senior journalist)