What Doctors May Not Tell You about Menopause
By: Hello50 Contributor
Menopause is a natural process that occurs as women age. For most women, at some point between ages 40 and 50, they will begin to experience menopause symptoms. These changes happen as the ovaries begin to produce lower levels of estrogen.
Many symptoms of menopause are well-known. Hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness are common experiences for women during this phase of their lives. Since menopause is not something that can be reversed, treatment focuses on handling the symptoms. Doctors may prescribe treatments as simple as lifestyle changes. In more extreme cases, they may prescribe hormone replacement therapy to provide menopause relief. While a doctor can help with the symptoms, there are some aspects of menopause that may not come up in an office visit.
Menopause Takes Time
Officially, women reach menopause when they have not had a period for 12 months. However, the perimenopause phase can begin several years before that milestone. As estrogen levels drop over time, women will experience irregular periods. They may miss a month here and there. They may have a few months of regular periods and a few months off. This is also the time when women may start experiencing hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
After the onset of menopause, the symptoms tend to ease, but this can also take a few years. It is important to recognize that this is a natural process that will take time. Some women find that increasing their intake of plant estrogens, also known as phytoestrogens, can provide some menopause relief. Soy products such as soy milk and tofu contain these compounds.
Menopause Takes an Emotional Toll
The onset of menopause begins at a time that is often filled with emotional stressors. Around age 50, women may be dealing with the care of aging parents and children heading off to college. The unpredictable nature of menopause symptoms adds to that stress, disrupting plans and changing patterns. These factors can increase the changes in mood that are part of the process.
While most people are familiar with menopausal mood swings, not everyone realizes how extreme they can be. Women may have episodes where they feel emotionally out of control with bouts of unexpected sobbing or sudden bursts of irritation and anger. For some women, long-term changes in mood require medical help such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.
Menopausal women might take up mindfulness exercises such as meditation, deep-breathing techniques or yoga. Learning how to calm things down can be helpful in dealing with mood swings. While mindful practices may not stop mood swings, they can help keep them from going to the extremes of anxiety and depression.
Menopause Can Affect the Way You Think
The mental impact of menopause can be more than emotional. Women talk about frustrating episodes with a lack of mental sharpness. In some cases, this feels like a general mental fog. In others, women report specific issues with short-term memory loss, problems with word recall and decreased levels of motivation and concentration. These symptoms of menopause can increase anxiety as they can even mirror the symptoms of early-onset dementia.
Relief from Symptoms Is Not a One Size Fits All
In addition to sleep and regular exercise, using supplements, ginkgo biloba, omega-3 fish oil, CBD oils or essential oils may help combat menopausal symptoms. Other women have success with more traditional approaches such as using Hormone Replacement Treatment. Each woman must find what works for her when it comes to addressing the symptoms associated with menopause. Talk with your doctor and other health experts to decide which approach is best suited for you. Finally, we want to hear from you.
We will explore traditional and more alternative methods for combatting menopausal symptoms in future content.
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