Menopause

Learn ways to get better control while going through the menopause process.

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What is menopause?

Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman's last period. The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause.

The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55. It usually lasts about seven years but can be as long as 14 years. The duration can depend on lifestyle factors such as smoking, age it begins, race, and ethnicity. During perimenopause, the body's production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly.

The menopausal transition affects each woman uniquely and in various ways.

 

The body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily. You may experience changes in your bone or heart health, your body shape, and composition, or your physical function.

If you are having symptoms that are common during menopause, your doctor may ask questions about your age, symptoms, and family history to determine if it really is the menopausal transition causing your problems. In some cases, your doctor may suggest a blood test to check your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol (E2) levels to rule out any other causes for the changes you're experiencing.

Now that we have told you a couple of scary things about what menopause is, let's focus on the top six menopause issues and ways to get through them.

Hot Flashes

Many women have hot flashes, which can last for many years after menopause. They may be related to changing estrogen levels.

Vaginal Health and Sexulaity

After menopause, the vagina may become drier, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. You may also find that your feelings about sex are changing. You could be less interested, or you could feel freer and sexier because after one full year without a period, you can no longer become pregnant. However, you could still be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

Bladder Control

A loss of bladder control is called incontinence. You may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing. The first step in treating incontinence is to see a doctor. Bladder infections also can occur in midlife.

Mood Changes

You might feel moodier or more irritable around the time of menopause. Scientists don’t know why this happens. It’s possible that stress, family changes such as growing children or aging parents, a history of depression, or feeling tired could be causing these mood changes. 

Sleep

 Around midlife, some women start having trouble getting a good night's sleep.  Maybe you can’t fall asleep easily, or you wake too early. Night sweats might wake you up. And if you wake up during the night, you might have trouble falling back to sleep. 

Body Changes

Your waist could get larger. You could lose muscle and gain fat. Your skin could become thinner. You might have memory problems and your joints and muscles could feel stiff and achy. In addition, for some women, symptoms may include aches and pains headaches, and heart palpitations.

Hot Flashes:

  • Dress in layers that can be removed at the start of a hot flash.
  • Carry a portable fan to use when a hot flash strikes.
  • Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine. These can make menopausal symptoms worse.
  • If you smoke, try to quit, not only for hot flashes but for your overall health.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight. Women who are overweight or obese may experience more frequent and severe hot flashes.
  • Explore mind-body practices. Some early-stage research has shown that hypnotherapy and mindfulness meditation could help with the management of hot flashes.

Bladder Control:

  • Cut back on your caffeine and alcohol consumption.

  • Gradually retrain your bladder to hold more urine by only urinating at certain preplanned times of the day.

  • Lose weight to reduce the pressure on your bladder and muscles.

  • Use Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, to strengthen your pelvic muscles.

Sleep:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening if you can. It may keep you awake at night.
  • Develop a bedtime routine. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
  • Try not to watch television or use your computer or mobile device in the bedroom. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
  • Exercise at regular times each day but not close to bedtime.
  • Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime.
  • Stay away from caffeine (found in many coffees, teas, and chocolate) late in the day.
  • Remember, alcohol won’t help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.

Vaginal Health & Sexuality:

  • To remedy vaginal dryness and painful intercourse (dyspareunia) associated with the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, your doctor might recommend: Vaginal moisturizers (K-Y Liquibeads, Replens, others), applied every few days to moisturize and keep vaginal tissues healthy.
  • A woman's brain is still her most important sexual organ. So use it to think about sex. Thinking about it more can actually make it happen more.
  • Make an Intimate Appointment
  • Write sex on the calendar. Maybe not the word “sex” exactly, but try scheduling an encounter. Forget spontaneity. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done. Plan a mini-trip away from home.
  • Creativity can be erotic for couples. Take a break from vaginal intercourse. Try massage, oral sex, sensual baths, manual stimulation, or caressing. A variety of pleasuring techniques can also be explored with or without partners.
  • Sexual enhancement creams, vaginal lubricants, and moisturizers can be found at the most neighborhood or online pharmacies. Or visit an adult boutique for magazines, toys, and an array of products that will surely make for some interesting “research.” Make sure to pretest all-new topical products in a “safe” area (eg, behind the ear) to make sure they do not irritate. Don’t forget to smell and taste products.

Mood Changes:

  • Exercise and eat healthy.
  • Find a self-calming skill to practice, such as yoga, meditation, or rhythmic breathing.
  • Avoid tranquilizers and alcohol.
  • Engage in a creative outlet that fosters a sense of achievement.
  • Stay connected with your family and community.
  • Nurture your friendships.

Body Changes:


Physical changes associated with menopause and aging include changes in body shape. Shifting weight from the hips to the central tummy area, drier skin, decreased muscle tone and hot flushes change how you feel, how you think about and the actual shape of your body.
 
  • Some women talk about losing control of the body they always thought they could control and rely on. Other women find greater confidence in who they are because they are less driven by worrying about whether their body is ‘perfect’ as they enter this stage.



     

During perimenopause what changes may women experience?

Each woman’s menopause experience is different. Many women who undergo natural menopause report no symptoms at all during the perimenopausal years except for irregular menstrual periods that eventually stop once they reach menopause. Other symptoms may include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, memory problems, mood disturbances, and vaginal dryness. Not all these symptoms are hormone-related, and some, such as hot flashes and memory problems, tend to resolve after menopause. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this time of transition is essential for your health and can even prevent or alleviate some of these symptoms.

Postmenopause

After menopause, changes to the spread of body fat and body shape increase a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower levels of estrogen also increase the risk of bladder weakness and osteoporosis.

Migraine
The fluctuation in estrogen levels in perimenopause may cause hormone headaches to increase. But many women will see these headaches stop once menopause is reached; however, some women will continue to have headaches after menopause.

Endometriosis
Usually, endometriosis does go away after menopause. Uncommonly, it can return with the use of menopausal hormone therapy, or MHT (formerly called hormone replacement therapy, or HRT), especially if there is no progestogen component. Even more rarely, it can return for no reason without any hormonal treatment.

Fibroids
Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus (womb). Fibroids are almost always benign (not cancerous). Not all women with fibroids have symptoms. Women who do have symptoms often find fibroids hard to live with. Some have pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. Treatment for uterine fibroids depends on your symptoms.

If you feel like you need to see a professional regarding any of these symptoms, please do so. Menopause can be very tough for so many women. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. We believe you should never have to "just deal with it". 

Talking to someone you can relate to and understand is a pivotal tool in getting through menopause or dealing with post-menopausal emotions. We are here to help. Just click the chat button and let's talk. 

Here are a couple of products we recommend to help with symptoms

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Feminine Balance

  • Reduce the frequency and ease the severity of hot flashes for many women

  • Support healthy moods, bone density, and adrenal function

  • Help maintain the proper balance of hormones and reduce fatigue

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Evening Primrose Oil

  • Evening Primrose Oil has achieved well-known acceptance and recognition for its vital role in women's health today.

  • Evening Primrose Oil can provide important benefits to women of all ages including women experiencing PMS or menopause that have specific nutritional interests.

  • Evening Primrose Oil has become a staple in dietary supplements that offer support for hormonal balance.

Disclosures: Empowering Health and its partners do not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness. We always recommend seeing your physician before starting any kind of supplement regimen.  This site may contain affiliate links. If you purchase from any links on this site, we may receive a commission at no cost to you.