Menopause and Aging
Every organism undergoes various biological changes in the process of growth and development. Organisms undergo three major steps in their lifespan, which include growth, development and ageing. According to studies, three aspects of life greatly influence each other; hence this is the reason for the study. Ageing forms the final part of the developmental process of every organism. One of the major and final stages of development is aging. At a later stage in life, organisms fail to respond to different stimuli and activities for various reasons. Aging, like any other stage is a biological process, which takes place in organisms. The major characteristics of the aging process include vulnerability to aging related illnesses, reduced ability to respond to stress and increased homeostatic imbalance. Aging being the final stage of development always leads to death. However, death rarely comes because of old age. In most cases, death happens because of age-related symptoms. Aging brings about progressive deterioration of physiological functioning of the body. It will in turn lead to vulnerability of the organism to various harsh environmental factors and diseases (424). This paper explores the existing connection between the aging process and the development of organisms, with particular focus on human beings. One of the two major connections that the paper highlights is menopause. Menopause is clear evidence that aging is a developmental process. More so, the current paper seeks to explain why ageing is inseparable from the organisms’ development and growth.
One of the notable effects of aging is the reduced reproductive ability of organisms. Human beings experience menopause. Women experience different biological processes while aging, one of them being menopause. As reproductive beings, women experience monthly menstrual periods. At a later stage in life, this biological process ends, which is termed as menopause. After twelve months of missing the monthly periods, women can be termed to be at menopause. The depletion of eggs in the women ovaries signifies the onset of menopause. One of the main questions on menopause is the timing. The onset of menopause varies from individual to individual; hence there is a need to understand the factors behind the timing of menopause. Two factors determine the timing of menopause. These are the number of oocytes present in the ovary during the fifth month of gestation and the rate of oocytes loss across the lifespan. Research on menopause age indicates that the third world countries have a lower age bracket as compared to developed countries. Women in developed countries experience menopause from 50 to 51 years old while in undeveloped countries women experience menopause when they are 45 years old. From the provided statistics, at the onset of menopause the age of women ranges from 40 to 60 years old. Various reasons contribute to the variance of the time factors of menopause (432). These include body size, marital status, smoking habits and income of the individuals.
Various symptoms accompany the physiological change of women. The major symptom of menopause is hot flushes defined as momentary, repeated periods of heat responsiveness and redness, often concomitant with sweats. The hot flushes last for about 2 or 3 minutes but with a variance of a few seconds to an hour. Other symptoms include vaginal discomfort, recurrent lower urinary tract infections, dyspareunia, and dysuria. Most of these symptoms cause women some discomfort and have negative impacts on their sexual well-being. Depressed mood, constant headaches, dizziness, reduced skin elasticity and many other physical changes are other menopause symptoms. The post-reproductive life span of many mammals varies from that of human beings. Human beings experience an increased post-menopausal life because of the development process undergone.
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Ageing as a Developmental Process
According to the research, aging is a developmental process. The advancing of age factors means a build-up of different harmful changes taking place in cells and tissues responsible for the cases of disease and death. Notable is the fact that aging is an ideology special to the human species. For this reason, it is best to highlight and dispute what most people believe, ageing is not a disease. Different theories explain ageing as a developmental process. According to the evolutionary theory of aging, the drop in the force of natural selection of human beings creates room for ageing. Darwin’s approach to natural selection explains that the major cause of death is predation and environmental hazards. If these two aspects are unavailable, then ageing of the species can take place. For this reason, over time ageing becomes a necessary step in the developmental process. Another theory explaining ageing as a developmental process is free radical theory. According to this theory, ageing occurs because of amassing of endogenous oxygen radicals bred in cells. Further studies on the theory revealed that mitochondria is responsible for the commencement of supreme radical reactions linked to the aging process (428). The theory also supports the statement that the degree of free deep-seated impairment to the mitochondria determined life span. Immune theory of aging, on the other hand, implies that a network of cellular and molecular defense mechanisms indirectly controls ageing. These mechanisms operate to minimize the adverse impacts of varied physiological, chemical and physical stressors. The effectiveness of the network is genetically controlled. The networks of species and individual also differ, which explains the observed variations in life span. Finally, the mitochondrial theory of ageing also explains the process as developmental. Ageing comes with the depletion of physiological and physical aspects of an individual. The theory delves into the causes of the depletion to explain the process. According to the theory, the depletion occurs due to a build-up of deficiencies in numerous metabolic paths. Explaining the varied metabolic pathways, the proponents of the theory focus on DNA, that is a product of the mitochondria and the nucleus (429). From their conclusion, the biological integrity of the cell is highly interrelated to the veracity of its genome.
Various studies link ageing to the organism development process. From the various physical and physiological changes, which take place in old age, it is evident that the stage is the part of development. Organisms in old age exhibit different characteristics in their physique, which prove the understanding of the connection. Some of the human ageing process characteristics are evident in the reproductive system, cognitive and physical developments. Ageing is part of the developmental process although in the decreasing sense. The developed aspects of the organisms now face depreciation. This implies that the ageing process mainly exhibits functional decline of many distinct organ systems. The stage finalizes the development process whereby the developed organ systems deplete and fail to function leading to death. The major reason behind the organ systems failure is the weakening of definite indispensable biochemical and biological processes, which increase vulnerability to worsening and communicable diseases, edge value of life. Accordingly, advancing age is also accompanied by an increased exposure to prolonged diseases such as bone and muscle weakening, cancer, mental instability, diabetes and immune dysfunction (432).
Amongst the existing organisms, human beings have a diverse life span. However, the oldest age bracket for humans is about 100 years after which death strikes. Not all human beings live up to over a century because of various factors influencing the surviving rate. From the major symptoms and signs of ageing, it is obvious that two major factors cause ageing of organisms, mainly human beings. These include inherent developments well ordered by hereditary factors and extrinsic procedures predisposed by stress and ecological factors. From the development studies, intrinsic and extrinsic factors contribute to the process. In this regard, there is a connection between ageing and the development process. The factors responsible for the development of human beings equally influence the ageing process. The factors responsible for ageing are essentially contributors to the menopause process. These include the lifestyle of an individual. During the development process, lifestyle in terms of diet, exercise, environment, weight and smoking will greatly influence the ageing process. For those people undertaking proper exercise and nutrition, the onset of ageing will be later in life as compared to those not keen on healthy lifestyles. Genetic make-up is an intrinsic factor relating to ageing (424). This means that the genes from the family tree will be responsible for the person’s body constitution and future health. In addition, hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and many others will be responsible for the ageing process and menopause. During pre-menopause, the levels of the females hormones fluctuate as the ovaries try to meet the body’s needs. In essence, the ageing process is evident through intensification in tissue withering and biological dysfunction.
According to scientific evidence, menopause is an ageing process especially in women. Menopause is a permanent cessation of menstruation hence inactive reproductive activity. During the growth and development process of human beings, one of the major recognizable changes occurs in the reproductive system. At this stage, various developments take place such as the private parts growth and the onset of the monthly menstrual among others. In old age, this developed reproductive system undergoes changes, which make it inactive. These changes in the reproductive system signify the end of the development process of human beings. For this reason, it is evident that ageing is a development process. Ageing is the final stage of the development process as it puts an end to all the development activities of the human body. The changes accompanied by ageing make the human body vulnerable to acute and chronic diseases, which result in death. Menopause is one of the better-understood consequences of chronological aging (431).
During early stages of the development, one of the areas with major noticeable changes is the muscle development. The same is evident in old age as the muscles wither. Given populations exhibit muscle and mass loss after the age of 50. This is a key point in the research as scientists agree that ageing is a developmental process. Women experiencing menopause have vast muscle and mass loss because of the body hormones and cells depletion. In old age, there is loss of muscle mass because of muscle fiber weakening. Death caused by age factor usually happens due to several diseases and conditions, which take advantage of depleting body. Apart from the muscle depreciation, the bones strength is also challenged in human beings (430). People become weak with age, and can no longer undertake their daily activities. From such cases and experiments, it is understandable that ageing is a developmental process, which involves depletion of the body’s developed organs
Species vary in terms of life span. Scientists agree that different factors contribute to the longer and shorter species life spans. Longer life span is attributed to increased rates of UV induced DAN repair, enhanced superoxide dismutase activity, longer red cell life span in vivo, longer fibroblast life span in vitro and elevated level of carotenoids (425). On the other hand, shorter lifespan occurs due to increased number of chromosomal abnormalities, reduced number of functioning mitochondria and increased numbers and size of lysosomes. Considering the above examined theories of aging, some discuss the contribution of mitochondria to the ageing process. Therefore, reduced number of mitochondria, which is responsible for the functioning of the body, will lead to depleted body functions. Increased rates of auto-oxidation, eminent free radical production and elevated rates of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide generation are also major factors behind shorter life span in organisms (426). The change in the metabolic body activities in old age is, therefore, a clear sign of ageing as a developmental process.
From the above explanations of the various changes in a human body, it can be concluded that ageing is a developmental process. In the contemporary America, scientists strive to find the ways of eliminating the ageing part of the human life. However, this should not be the focus, as more research is needed to understand the process. There is need for more understanding of important biology of ageing. For instance, in explaining the ageing process, it is necessary to understand the reason behind the old cells vulnerability to diseases. The understanding of ageing from this perspective will also help solve the mystery associated with age-related diseases. Various changes in the human body imply the onset of ageing stage. For instance, women’s menopause remains a strong sign of ageing process. The depletion of women reproductive activities is a major support for the ideology of ageing as a developmental process. Currently, age-related diseases remain a major challenge for most physicians. Consequently, the understanding of the aging process can be resourceful in treatment of the age-related diseases.