Menopause is the cessation of women`s menstrual cycle, also known as climacteric, for almost a year. This usually happens to women aging from 47 to 51. Menopause occurs due to a complex series of hormonal changes.
This menopausal experience is not really a process, but women will sometimes start to notice changes earlier until she reached the point of not having the symptoms at all. The very first sign she will notice is the irregularity of her period. This is due to the declining of hormonal levels. The whole process is usually referred to as peri-menopause or the menopausal transition. This process can vary in every woman, which for some can last for up to 10 years or more.
Here are some common symptoms:
Any woman approaching menopause knows a hot flash when she feels one. That sudden overwhelming blast of heat that extends from your forehead to your toes and leaves you soaking with sweat occurs due to hormones mixing up your body`s temperature regulation, the hypothalamus. You can experience hot flashes all over your body or just in one area, but the extreme temperature change in your body is uncomfortable no matter where you feel it.
Your face may also be flushed or reddened or become blotchy. The severity of hot flashes can range from mild to quite severe. To some women, they are wakened up from sleep because of them causing additional restlessness to deal with. There are several treatments like medications for hot flashes, like increasing hormones or even supplements but these may come with some side effects. Knowing your options is important, so make sure your doctor is consulted with this concern. This hot flashes may even last for a few years after menopause.
Insomnia or sleeplessness is common to women in perimenopause as estrogen levels deplete and the brain excretes fight-or-flight response chemicals that keep you on high alert through the night. You may have difficulty falling asleep, or even staying asleep. Sometimes, hot flashes contribute to this sleep deprivation because when they are severe, they can wake you up and keep you awake throughout the night.
Doing regular exercises and some supplements like Melatonin can be helpful to get their blissful sleep back. Breathing exercises and meditations can be helpful too. This will help relax your body and mind, and can help you fall back to sleep.
Weight gain can be very frustrating for many women having menopause, especially since the added weight tends to accumulate in the midsection, which is one of the worst area to gain weight. So, it is so important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that for women gaining this extra weight during post-menopausal period has a high risk of heart disease.
Since menopause is related to some hormonal issues, women at this time tend to lose energy to do exercise and has a tendency to eat unhealthy. Thus, they gain weight. So, try to still keep track and have a very healthy diet and do some fitness program. Doing exercises can keep you physically and mentally healthy.
Since this menopause is correlated to hormonal imbalance, moods are often affected. Being irritable, sad, anxious, or angry for no reason at all are some changes you may experience. It is the inability to control your emotions which can be frustrating. Sometimes, women are experiencing depression or anxiety during this stage in their life.
If women are experiencing this kind of emotions, you may want to realize that all women go through this transition. It is just a phase of life. Try focusing on the good things in life, you can try to exercise more or join any classes that you may be interested in. Mood swings can be controlled. It is a matter of being aware and understanding your body is just changing.
Breasts are usually affected when you are in the peri-menopause, as this is hormonal. It is just like those symptoms you experience when you are about to have a menstrual period. This is due to water retention that makes your breast swell and tender. But this is not continuous. It could happen at any time during the whole process. To some, adding hormonal therapy to their regimen can be helpful, but you may want to consult your doctor first.
When you have decreased level of hormones, certain food such as caffeine can aggravate neurological changes in your brain. Aside from caffeine, even noise and bright lights can induce this chronic headache. While hormone levels fluctuates during the early stages of menopause, the severity of the headaches or migraines can intensify. Some women who are using hormonal therapy can actually add to the severity of the headache. But the good news, once you have reached the post-menopausal stage, your headache usually stop because your hormone levels are very low, preventing hormonal headaches from occurring.
An early sign of menopause which is very uncomfortable to most women is vaginal dryness. As the estrogen level decreases, so does the body`s lubrication and moisture in the skin, hair, and the vaginal wall. This will eventually make sex painful and uncomfortable. Also, if your vagina is dry, you are prone to urinary tract infection.
It is good to consult your doctor or gynecologist for some recommendations if you find this symptom very irritating. There are gels, cream and oral medications they can prescribed. Good hygiene will be helpful too, like not using harmful products that can aggravate the dryness of the vagina.
If you suddenly find yourself being more forgetful than normal or feeling like you are in a constant state of brain fog, it may be an indication that you are starting menopause. This is still due to hormonal changes. As progesterone levels decrease, the body`s excess estrogen turns into stress hormones, which impacts the part of the brain responsible for memory.
These symptoms that I enumerated may vary in different women. Even their severity and time of onset. There are still other signs and symptoms that some women experience which are not here in my list. But the most important is that, almost all women experience this stage in their life, and so to ease things for them, understand that this is just a phase.
Do you have other signs and symptoms of menopause? I want to hear your thoughts…