There are certain aspects of getting older that everyone dislikes, but for many women, there’s one looming specter of dread on the horizon– menopause. It’s something that you hear horror stories about from your female friends and relatives from your youth, and by the time menopause is drawing closer for you, it’s enough stress to make anyone start sweating!
In spite of the way we all often talk about menopause, it’s a very natural and normal part of a woman’s life, even if it has its unpleasant moments. Many women consider it a mark of age and wisdom that deserves to be celebrated! However, no matter what your opinions about menopause are, when you’re staring into the face of a major change to both your body and your life, it can still be intimidating. The solution? Information, and as much of it as possible! Learning what you can expect to experience throughout menopause, especially in the early stages, can do a lot to alleviate your fears and make everything more bearable. This quick guide is an excellent place to start!
Significant changes to your menstrual cycle are the hallmark sign of menopause, but unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that your period will just conveniently drop off and never start again. While this can happen for some women, most women experience about a year’s worth of changes to their cycle before it stops for good, like skipping periods for a few months before starting them again, much heavier or lighter flows, different symptoms than you’re used to, or any number of unexpected changes. Once you’ve been without your period for an entire year, you’re officially medically considered to be in menopause.
Every woman fears them as she starts to get older– the dreaded hot flash. It’s not 100% clear what about menopause triggers hot flashes to happen, although research seems to suggest that falling estrogen levels in your body can cause the parts of your brain that regulate body temperature to go haywire. While every woman’s experience with menopause is different, hot flashes are very common to experience, and extremely irritating and uncomfortable. Taking precautions like dressing in loose, light layers and avoiding triggers like warm rooms and spicy foods can help, but if your hot flashes become a serious problem during menopause, your doctor might recommend a treatment like hormone replacement therapy to help get them under control.
The rising and falling hormone levels of menopause can affect just about every process in your body. After all, hormones are the chemical messengers that control everything your body does! Sleep is one of the places that many women struggle with the changes of menopause. Hot flashes and night sweats can disrupt your rest, and you might find yourself feeling sleepy or wide awake at hours you’re not used to, or feeling inexplicably tired and needing more rest. If your sleep problems are causing you distress, they can and should be talked about with a medical professional, but don’t stress too much over minor changes to the way you sleep. With such a big shift in your body, it’s to be expected!
In many ways, menopause is similar to puberty. Both of them are times of significant physical and hormonal changes in the human body, and they can come with similar issues. One of those issues is mood changes. If you thought that hormonally-triggered mood swings were only limited to pregnancy and your teenage years, think again! Menopause can trigger the same unpredictable shifts in how you’re feeling from moment to moment, which can be just as tough to handle. Try to approach these unexpected moments of anger, irritability, sadness, or other emotions with patience and compassion for yourself, and keep an eye on how often you feel down and how drastically your moods fluctuate. If you become concerned, don’t hesitate to discuss the issue with your doctor to ensure that nothing more serious is going on, and to talk about ways to feel better!
Shifts and transitions in the way your body looks and feels are a normal part of aging, even if they’re a part that isn’t always the most fun. The onset of menopause and the dropping off of your estrogen levels can lead to a lot of new things in this department. You might notice your skin becoming drier and less elastic, and your breasts losing volume. You may struggle with vaginal dryness that causes sex to become less enjoyable or even painful, and it’s very common for women to gain weight during menopause as well. Again, these are all normal changes and not any cause for alarm, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating! Like many of the tough-to-manage symptoms of menopause, seeking out treatments like hormone replacement therapy can help to ease you through this transition more comfortably.
Entering menopause can certainly be a stressful time in a woman’s life, but with the right mindset and a little help, it doesn’t have to be! If you’re interested in learning more about how hormone replacement therapy can help to make menopause easier for you to manage, contact our team here at Renewed Vitality. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!