What You Need to Know About Menopause
Understanding this natural process will give you more control than you think was possible. As you near your midlife, you may have experienced some uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, including mood swings, weight gain, brain fog, and hot flashes. However, you don’t have to suffer through these because, unlike other hormonally turbulent times like pregnancy and puberty, you actually have more control over menopause than you might think. A study reported that as many as 65% of women say that they feel they are not prepared for menopause. Knowing the following tips and facts will help you be more informed, empowered, and ready for whatever accompanies menopause. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t know and apply this knowledge and make these years some of your best yet! 1. Your symptoms can last for more than 7 years Officially, you reach your menopause when you go twelve months without getting your period. Most women hit this milestone around age 51. However, it is more of a gradual stop instead of a sudden halt. Research has suggested that menopause symptoms can last as long as 7.4 years. Before you reach menopause, you may experience lighter or heavier periods, your cycles become erratic, and you can have symptoms like sleep problems, hot flashes, mood swings, and brain fog. These symptoms may linger on even after menopause because your body takes time to adjust. 2. Consider alternative approaches like herbal remedies The good news is that you can use a few herbal supplements and home remedies to manage your symptoms. For instance, apart from maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet, you can use CBD oil, soy isoflavones, Maca Root Powder, and Black Cohosh. CBD Oil Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active chemicals present in cannabis plants like marijuana and hemp. It has medicinal properties and does not lead to the “high “associated with marijuana. It has shown to have a positive effect on our body’s hormonal balance. Evidence from some research has suggested that it can help in treating the symptoms of menopause, including mood changes, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and bone density loss. The most common way to benefit from CBD is through using CBD oil. Isoflavones Isoflavones are a type of plant-based chemicals that act like a weaker form of estrogen hormone in your body. This causes them to play a role in reducing menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. Isoflavones are found in soy, so you can include foods from this group in your diet. 3. Sex doesn’t have to be off limits Many women are afraid that sex will lose its charm or become painful after menopause. Yes, your waning hormones may cause loss of vaginal elasticity and dryness. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that this has to be the end of your sex life. Try lubricants, vaginal estrogen inserts or therapy for the physical changes, and thus a fulfilling sex life. Up to 50% of menopausal women experience painful sex and vaginal dryness. Unfortunately, 90% of these women don’t reach out for help, according to Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Make sure that you are from the remaining 10% - seek help because your body deserves the best! 4. There are ways to deal with hot flashes If there was a trademark symptom for menopause, it would be hot flashes. Around 80% of premenopausal women and 65% of post-menopausal women experience them. You may not be able to prevent hot flashes completely, but you can minimize their effect. Be aware of what triggers these hot flashes including stress, spicy foods, hot drinks, caffeine, sleep deprivation, tight clothing, and hot rooms. So, make sure that you get plenty of sleep, exercise, and nutritious foods. Of course, herbal remedies will help, too. 5. Pregnancy is still possible Don’t give up on your birth control just yet! Many women become casual about birth control once they reach their 40s because there is a common misconception that they can’t become pregnant anymore. Surprise, surprise! You can still get pregnant albeit a little less likely than your earlier years. This is why it is a good idea to continue your hormonal birth control. Also, the pill can help the menopause experience. When you get a steady dose of hormones through your pills and IUDs, your body will not be fully impacted by the drop in levels of progesterone and natural estrogen. Many women have experienced that progesterone-releasing IUDs help with erratic or severely heavy periods in menopause. Doctor’s will often suggest trying an IUD before a hysterectomy to see if it will decrease severe bleeding. 6. Menopause can affect more than just your reproductive system The estrogen hormone has several functions apart from its role in your reproductive system. It is vital for metabolic homeostasis (balance) and function. During menopause, as its levels drop, there can be an impact on several things, including appetite hormones, fat production and distribution, thyroid function, inflammation, mood, sleep, and energy levels. This is one reason why as many as 90% of women gain weight after they hit menopause. It could also be the reason behind your increased hunger and feelings of fatigue. A critical function that estrogen has is that it contributes to the management of cholesterol levels and maintains the health and flexibility of your blood vessels and artery walls. Consequently, as estrogen levels drop, the risk of heart disease increases. But, there’s no need to panic because there will only be a problem if you don’t take care of yourself. Keep stress under control, eat healthy foods, get adequate exercise, and maintain good sleep hygiene (have a gadget-free sleep routine). This will prevent risk factors from piling on dangerously. 7. Your mental health may suffer, but it doesn’t have to The bad news is that women have twice the risk of anxiety and depression as men. These mental health issues can be more impactful during your menopause, and the symptoms may cause additional stress. And the good news? You can get through this phase without taking a toll on your mental health. Make your mental health a top priority by talking with your doctor to determine the best approach to addressing mental health challenges once menopause begins. Your doctor may prescribe medicine for stress, anxiety, or depression or you might discuss an alternative approach. Herbal remedies, yoga, mediation, or engagement with friends and family may all help your mental well-being. Research shows that positive social support can enhance longevity in individuals, particularly post-menopausal women. So, vent to a friend, have a few laughs, engage in more activities or see your doctor. No need to emotionally suffer alone and quietly. Finally, the key message is that menopause is like any other natural phase that your beautiful female body goes through. You have made it until now, and you can get through this phase too! Just remember to take good care of yourself, reach out to friends, family and even your doctor for help and you will be fine! How are you dealing with menopause? Share your experiences on FaceBoook or select the Ask Hello50 tab to comment.