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What You Need to Know About Menopause

Introduction

Menopause is the time when your body stops making eggs and producing the hormones needed to make them mature. This can happen naturally or as a result of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. What you need to know about menopause is that it’s not a disease you need a cure for but it’s a stage of life that women experience starting at a certain age.

 

Symptoms of menopause

Menopause it usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can happen earlier or later depending on individual circumstances. The most common symptoms are hot flashes or night sweats, which cause you to suddenly feel very hot.

My experience with hot flashes make me feel like I’m being cooked in a microwave.

I don’t like air conditioners. But I can’t resist reaching for the remote several times during the night. It seems as soon as I get comfortable off comes the sheets and on goes the air. That’s my experience with one menopausal symptom — hot flashes.

Other symptoms can include mood swings (which are made worse by lack of sleep), night sweats, vaginal dryness, depression and irritability. Although mental health symptoms such as depression or anxiety may not go away on their own, you might find that they improve once menopause is over if you manage your symptoms with lifestyle changes and/or hormone therapy.

This podcast episode is an interview Dr. Nancy Belcher who breaks down the symptoms of menopause and how hormone therapy can help to master hormonal imbalance during menopause.

What is menopause?

The average age of menopause is 51 and generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years of age. Menopause is not a disease; it’s a natural part of aging. A woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs and produce less estrogen, which causes changes in her body, mind, and emotions. Changes may include:

  • Hot flashes or night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness and thinning of vaginal tissue that can hurt during sex, especially if your vagina has changed shape due to childbirth or aging
  • Mood swings, anxiety, and depression

What is menopause?

Menopause is not a disease. It’s a normal life stage for women. Menopause simply means that you are no longer able to get pregnant because of a decline in your ovaries’ ability to produce eggs, which happens as you get older. During menopause, your body makes less estrogen and progesterone (two hormones associated with reproduction). These changes can cause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness that may last several years. Menopause is not an illness; it’s just an event in the transition from childbearing years to postmenopausal life.

What causes menopause?

Menopause is likely caused by a combination of factors in the brain and ovaries.

While the exact cause of menopause is unclear, it’s likely due to a combination of factors in the brain and ovaries. The ovaries stop producing eggs, which means hormone levels change during menopause.

These changes can trigger physical changes like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. But don’t worry: these symptoms usually go away within a year or two after your period stops.

Menopause is the time when your ovaries stop producing eggs. Although it happens when you are between 45 and 55, it can happen earlier or later. The change in your levels of estrogen and progesterone causes the symptoms that we call menopause.

In most women, this happens as part of a natural process. But for some women, it might be caused by surgical removal of one or both ovaries, chemotherapy treatment for cancer, or other medical reasons such as severe injury to an ovary from surgery on another part of the body.

Before menopause

Perimenopausal women experience menopause between the ages of 40 and 44. This early stage of menopause causes some changes in the menstrual cycle. At this stage, some women may start to see weight gain as well as other menopause symptoms.

If you haven’t been paying attention to your body, this may be a good time to start doing so. Work with your health professional to start taking steps to manage your health and switch to a more healthy diet and lifestyle.

Below is a recording of my interview with Angel Counsel, a Leading Naturopath and Menopause Coach. She believes that when menopausal women understand what’s happening with their hormones, they don’t have to be afraid and they can make better decisions.
 
Help with symptoms of menopause Several nonhormonal treatments exist for treating menopausal symptoms. You may want to try breathing exercises or meditation to calm your mind. You could also try keeping a journal about what triggers your hot flashes so that if they start getting worse at any point in the future, you’ll be able to identify what caused that change so that you can work on reducing those triggers for yourself. The good news is that most women no longer have hot flashes by the age of 60. If you’re still having them, try taking a magnesium supplement or eating more foods rich in magnesium like spinach and almonds. You could also try sleeping with a fan on at night if you live in a hot climate. Another way to manage the symptoms of menopause is by eating a healthy diet. Certain foods like healthy fats, whole grains, and fruits, and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight.
menopause pinterest graphic

Menopausal symptoms are different for everyone

Menopause symptoms in general are not the same for everyone. They can be mild or severe, short-lived or last for years, continuous or intermittent.

Each episode may last for a few minutes but can last up to an hour or more. The heat from hot flashes may be accompanied by a red flush on the skin, sweating and feeling faint. Hot flashes can occur at any time of the day or night, even when you’re asleep.

They’re often triggered by stress, hot weather, or eating spicy food. Could be some truth to this as I notice that my hot flashes intensify when I’m in Mexico. But some women find they’re worse after drinking alcohol too!

Women who experience these symptoms are often worried that they might have a serious illness like cancer. However, it’s important to remember that this type of symptom is completely normal. The menopause transition is just a part of a woman’s journey through life.

Of course, see a competent healthcare professional if you have concerns about your health.

Other symptoms can include mood swings (which are made worse by lack of sleep), night sweats, vaginal dryness, depression, and irritability.

Hormone therapy and menopause symptoms

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms during menopause, don’t worry. There are many different ways to manage them or even prevent them from happening altogether. One of the ways to manage your menopausal symptoms is through hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Some women are hesitant to be treated with HRT due to a study done by the Women’s Health Initiative which indicates that it comes with some risks to women’s health. A professional experienced in complementary and integrative health may be able to help you determine if HRT is right for you.

I prefer to experience symptoms of menopause because how else would I know what it feels like? Unless these symptoms cause me harm I don’t see any reason to mask or hide them. But that’s just me. I understand why people do not want to go around fanning themselves all the time. Or to feel like they are being cooked in a microwave.

Still, if you decide you want to pursue hormone therapy please see a qualified health professional. Also, remember that natural treatment options exist. A qualified naturopath or complementary and integrative health professional should be able to help you choose the best option for you.

Menopause and mental health

When women experience menopause, there is usually a change in their hormones which causes a host of mental problems. Although these mental health symptoms such as depression or anxiety may not go away on their own, you might find that they improve once menopause is over or if you manage your symptoms with lifestyle changes or other treatment options.

If you’re struggling to cope with the physical or emotional effects of menopause, it’s important to seek help. Talk to a doctor about coping strategies and how they can help you manage your condition.

Hot flashes become more intense when you’re experiencing emotional stress because stress releases hormones that make your heart beat faster, expanding blood vessels and allowing more heat to reach the skin’s surface. When this happens, you may want to try breathing exercises or meditation to calm yourself down. You could also try keeping a journal about what triggers your flashes.

Stress and menopause

If you’re experiencing hot flashes, it’s important to know that they can be triggered by stress. This symptom of menopause becomes more intense when you’re experiencing emotional stress. This is because the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), which is released when we experience stress and makes our heart beat faster, expands blood vessels, and allows more heat to reach the skin’s surface.

menopause pinterest graphic

Conclusion

Menopause is a natural process that takes place in every woman’s life. It is a time when the ovaries stop producing hormones. This can cause many symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. As well as a host of mental health challenges.

It’s important to be mindful of what’s taking place in your body and seek the help of a qualified health professional if you are having problems coping with the symptoms of menopause.

The good news is that there are many natural remedies for menopause symptoms, from meditation to yoga and natural supplements.  Along with a healthy diet, many women can benefit from these natural treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms of menopause so they can enjoy this normal part of their life.

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