Menopause is a natural stage of life for women over 40, but how each woman experiences it varies from person to person. Some women do not hit menopause until they are past their 50’s. Others reach menopause in their early 40’s. About 70% of all women will experience menopausal symptoms that vary in severity and length. There are typical symptoms associated with menopause that include hot flashes, sweating during the night, and flushing. These are caused by hormone levels dramatically changing in a short period of time. This stage of life actually starts in the woman’s early 40’s, and goes from there.
Some women are lucky and do not go through menopause for very long. Their body transitions easily and then they live healthy and symptom free lifestyles. For most women though, menopausal symptoms require special treatments and can last until mid-50’ or until much later. The most common menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods until they stop completely, a sharp drop in sex drive, and vaginal dryness. The last two can affect the woman’s life much more than the others. Women are almost 100% unable to reproduce after menopause begins.
Treating menopause as soon as possible will help you live a comfortable life until the symptoms pass. There are various ways to go about relieving the symptoms and preventing more complicated problems that can arise out of menopause. There are so many menopause treatments out there, but you should aim for the natural ways to treat them first. Nobody wants to rely on chemicals for the rest of their life!
Menopause has many different symptoms and conditions that can develop. How do you know if they are different from ordinary conditions or a different cause? It’s simple. If you are suddenly noticing these things, they are likely attributed to menopause. If they seem like they have slowly creeped on you, such as with depression, then it is likely something else has happened.
Women going through menopause certainly have a lot to deal with. This can cause strain on family life and financial stressors. It is always important to realize the things you face and try to control them in the best manner possible. There are options out there for women, including support groups and online forums.
If you want to improve your symptoms or reduce the likelihood of them occurring then read on to learn more.
Hot Flashes and Cold Flashes
The majority of women with menopause or perimenopause will get hot flashes or cold flashes. These are sudden feelings of warmth that spread through the body. It can feel uncomfortable and cause dizziness sensations as well as flushed cheeks, which are quite visible to others. Hot flashes are normal and do not cause any problems. Some women even think that they make them look more attractive! Others wish that their cheeks were not as red.
Hot flashes occur because the body is lacking estrogen. This can happen to women at any age regardless of menopause, but for a healthy woman hot flashes only happen frequently during this period in life. Women also stop producing estrogen at a different pace. Some will slowly ease into menopause, while others change over night. Women that undergo a hysterectomy are more likely to experience extreme hot flashes.
Cold flashes are the same as hot flashes, but where you feel chills or break out into a cold sweat during the night.
Most women going through perimenopause or menopause will use estrogen supplements to keep their levels from dipping low enough to cause hot flashes.
Having night sweats may be one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. During the night women usually break into a sweat. This can be uncomfortable and disturb sleep patterns as well as your partner. Night sweats can also be smelly, as excessive sweat can leave behind on odor on blankets. To minimize sweating keep yourself cool at night and keep a fan on if possible.
When you have periods of night sweats then you should change your bedding often to reduce the build up of bacteria living on the sheets and blankets.
Women can go through their entire life with irregular periods, but they become common in menopause. This is similar to when a female first starts her menstrual cycle and periods are irregular. Short, completely absent, or periods that change abruptly are a natural symptom of menopause. This is caused by hormone imbalances, which of course happen during menopause.
Essentially, irregular periods are defined as anything that:
- Is very short one month and lasts longer the next.
- Heavy or light without consistency.
- Very painful one month, but PMS free the next.
- Skipping periods for more than one month.
- Having longer than average periods.
Irregularities can be controlled by taking natural estrogen supplements as well. Overall, women should not worry about these types of things unless there is a history of ovarian or uterine cancer in the family. If you have irregular periods and cancer history in your family then getting regular check ups is absolutely required for your long term health and safety.
Drop In Sex Drive
Unfortunately women experiencing menopause will likely have a sharp drop in sex drive or libido. This is fairly common but not ALL women have this problem. Of course, it doesn’t need to be taken care of or treated unless women are having a serious problem with their relationship due to lack of sex. Women and men alike will experience different levels of sexual interest, but when something is noticeably missing, women should seek treatment. Once again, loss of libido is often chocked up to hormonal imbalances. All of which can be treated without the use of drugs – but rather natural treatments.
Tips for improving libido:
- Try vitamin supplements to balance vitamin and mineral levels, as well as help hormones balance.
- Exercise more frequently.
- Find things that are stimulating regardless of what your “hormones” tell you.
- Work with your partner or spouse to help increase your natural arousal. Try new things and be adventurous together.
- Find out what interests you.
- Try supplements for increasing libido. Look for only natural supplements of course.
Vaginal Dryness and Discomfort
As hormone levels drop and the body decides it no longer needs to reproduce, the vagina also loses its natural lubrication. Itching and irritation usually begin to happen as well. Estrogen levels dropping also result in the firmness of the vaginal walls and skin becoming weaker. It is natural for women going through this to feel older and less attractive.
You no longer need a strong or “lubricated” vagina, so your body simply decides it is time to stop producing all of that. Luckily there are very natural products available where women can get lubrication stimulants for their vagina. This will ease up on itchiness and chronic dryness, and will also help with sexual intercourse and enjoyment in that department.
It is natural for this to be emotionally upsetting. After all it is a BIG change that is occurring with your body. Be sure to relax and look for something that can make it a little better for you to deal with.
Women should NOT use douches to “cleanse” the vagina, particularly during menopause. This will only increase dryness. Instead, there are special “pearl” shaped lubricators that will increase natural moisture levels.
Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids will also help to some degree. Do not expect miracles, since the body does what it does naturally.
When a female starts her menstrual cycle, moodiness and sudden tears are common. When a woman starts menopause, the same exact thing occurs. This emotional turmoil is caused by hormones going out of control due to bodily changes. They can become very severe in older women however. If you feel that your moods are too much to bear, then getting professional treatment is advised. Having a close friend or confidant will help immensely in controlling panic and mood swings.
If you are married it is important to make sure your husband empathizes and understands the things you are going through.
Fatigue and Lethargy
Fatigue is one of the top symptoms of menopause that women begin to experience from the early stages. Instead of just feeling lethargy during PMS, women start to feel it on a regular basis. Lethargy can make you feel slow, reduces productivity, and even results in weight gain. Long periods of chronic fatigue can lead to muscle and bone problems as well.
Drowsiness is quite different though. Fatigue is constant low-energy. Drowsiness is the feeling that you must sleep, but you feel better when you awaken. Fatigue will certainly impede on your work and family life, so be prepared to combat those feelings as soon as possible. Women can do a number of things to help treat fatigue naturally.
Fatigue can be treated through:
- Vitamin supplements containing large levels of B vitamins.
- Exercising regularly, even through those feelings of fatigue.
- Using natural estrogen or menopause supplements.
Hair Loss and Increase of Hair on Face
Most women will lose some thickness in their body hair as well as hair on the scalp during menopause. However they are more likely to experience an increase in facial hair development. This is relatively easy to manage and one of the symptoms of menopause that women should not worry about as much. Taking extra vitamins and maintaining a healthy diet can prevent hair loss and decrease chances of facial hair development.
Increased hair on the face can be taken care of with laser hair removal, but this is expensive and can be painful. If your facial hair bothers you, simply get a gentle wax to remove the excess.
Sleep Disorders and Insomnia
Experiencing insomnia during menopause is a rather common problem that women face. This can be caused by sweating and hot flashes, as well as just general emotional and mental imbalances that lead to insomnia problems. You will find that most women going through the menopausal stage of life will also start to sleep less and less and appear to be awake at all hours of the day.
Insomnia is much more common in women over 40 years of age, and can sometimes increase over the years until menopause ends or is controlled.
Often insomnia that lasts longer than a month is the type that is dangerous. Other levels of insomnia that are shorter lived are less harmful to the body. If your sleep problems go away relatively quickly then you shouldn’t worry about them. If they last for weeks at a time then you will definitely need treatment.
An excellent insomnia treatment is Valerian Root. When taken orally it allows you to sleep peacefully and without disturbances. Valerian comes in tea form and pills, as well as liquid. It is safe and has a high record of causing no harmful side effects.
Confusion and Concentration Problems
Menopause is usually when women start to become forgetful and confused about a number of things in their day to day life. This is usually a result of medications or stress from going through the big change. Women that do experience confusion should never let it go without treatment! You will need to see a doctor to consider quitting certain medications and increasing the intake of supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids. This will preserve brain function and memory.
Memory loss, however brief, can be upsetting and stressful. It is best to start taking natural supplements to help your memory and try doing memory building tasks. Sudoku puzzles and other similar games are excellent for helping women with these types of symptoms.
Simply playing a memory game a few times a week or once a day can do wonders for the body and mind. Plus they are actually enjoyable! They also make good beside games to play before falling asleep.
Dizziness and Light Headedness
These are rather common symptoms and can be managed if you control the things that cause them. Spinning and dizziness are often caused by hormonal changes, hot flashes, and fatigue. To control them you must control everything else. If your dizziness is causing severe problems, such as falling and hurting yourself, then see a doctor for a remedy. Women are more likely to fracture or break a bone during menopause, so you want to prevent that as much as possible.
Weight gain during menopause is very common and due to hormone changes. If you are worried about weight gain, you can try exercising and eating healthier. It is never too late to change your habits and improve your health. Weight gain can be avoided with continuous exercise. Since your metabolism will no longer be as fast, you need to make dietary adjustments to account for your lowered metabolic rate.
Tips to Combat Weight Gain:
- Exercise daily. Going for long walks can work wonders for your entire body.
- Eat energizing high quality foods. Choose less processed meals. Avoid eating out.
- Drink plenty of water, particularly if you exercise or live in an arid climate.
- Don’t order what your husband orders. Get smaller meals and hopefully healthier meals. Married women tend to eat what “he eats”, so that leads to a lot of weight gain after metabolism levels dip.
Incontinence and Inability to Control Your Bladder
Being unable to control your bladder is embarrassing and a hassle to deal with. This is caused by a weakening bladder, and is fairly normal. Incontinence is only a problem if you wet yourself frequently or require diapers. In serious cases surgery may be the only way to control incontinence and a weaker bladder.
Internal muscles around the bladder get weaker as your estrogen levels drop, and can be increasingly weakened by childbirth, being overweight, no exercise, or certain types of surgery.
Natural ways to strengthen your muscles include:
- Kegels, which strengthen the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles too.
- Exercises involving the thighs, pilates has many moves to help with this.
Muscle Aches and Breast Pain
These types of pains are fairly common during menopause but should be monitored very closely as well. Pain and soreness of the breasts is common but you should be doing regular breast checks as well as getting mammograms and check ups. If you notice something suspicious in your breasts, lymph nodes, or any bodily muscle, see a doctor immediately. Women going through menopause are prone to cancerous tumors and benign lumps. The sooner you notice them and get checked out, the safer you can be.
Normal muscle aches are common however and usually nothing to worry over. You can take a multi-vitamin for women to reduce soreness and be sure that you are not lacking in potassium, a common mineral that women do not get enough of.
To treat muscle pains immediately try a warming massage oil to loosen the muscle and soothe them. Take warm baths with essential oils to help relax and alleviate some of the pain. If possible stretch more often to help reduce aches and pain in the body.
Menopause not only affects your hormones, but it also can affect your bones as well. Normally your bones are renewed on a regular basis, strengthened and become stronger. After a woman turns 30 her bones strengthen less and are not able to develop as well. It is extremely important for women in their 20’s to read this and understand it. The best way to help your bones and to prevent menopausal osteoporosis is by strength training and eating a healthy diet full of leafy greens.
Myths about Osteoporosis:
- You need calcium to prevent it. This is largely false information. Dairy products and excess calcium can increase the rate of osteoporosis in women! Your body uses calcium to digest dairy, thanks to Casein, a protein found in cows milk. So essentially drinking milk or eating dairy is counter-productive to bone strengthening.
- You should take calcium supplements. This is also false information. If your diet is full of leafy greens and other sources of quality calcium (think of tofu and plants), then you do not need a supplement.
- Osteoporosis pills help. There are several studies that show osteoporosis pills will either keep the condition at a standstill, or actually DECREASE bone mass.
To preserve your bones and keep them strong and healthy throughout menopause, you MUST do the following:
- Take an all natural estrogen supplement. Estrogen is responsible for calcium absorption in the body.
- Exercise using weight bearing exercises. Squats, water aerobics, and other moves involve weights or your own weight will help immensely.
- Avoid soda since the acid in sodas leech calcium from bones, making them more brittle.
Changes in Hair, Skin, and Nails
Women going through menopause will notice large changes in fingernails, hair, and skin. The fingernails become softer, or thicker. Some women have easily breakable nails that turn yellow or flake. Some women on the other hand develop very thick hard to trim nails. Nails are a portal to your health and what is going on in the body. Since menopause can cause a number of different conditions to develop, odd changes in the nails should be reported as soon as possible.
Of course it is no surprise that the skin would change during menopause. Women will start to notice their skin is drier, more wrinkles are developing, and the skin is sagging more. This is from less collagen being produced and the walls that support your skin faltering. It is important to take preventative measures to help your skin. Use a rich moisturizer with antioxidants. It is never ever too late to start a sunblock regimen. Protect your skin from harsh weather and sunlight, and cleanse your skin regularly. It helps to avoid refined sugar and smoking since both damage collagen.
The hair follicles on your scalp also become weaker and more brittle. Thinner and dull hair is a result of aging. Luckily there are many high tech products on the market that can help you keep your shiny thick hair for many more years to come. Process it less often and try using more natural products instead of your typical dye and perm jobs. There are a number of products on the market designed to help thinning hair and brittle hair. Anti-aging hair products can work wonders for aging hair.
Remember to always use sunblock on your entire body when you are in the sun for extended periods of time. The nails, hair, and skin, all need to be protected from sunlight.
Depression, Social Anxiety, and Panic Disorders
Women who are social and happy their entire lives can hit menopause and instantly become depressed and have social anxiety problems. This stems from body changes that may make a woman feel insecure, as well as depressed. Depression can appear at any time for anyone. If you notice that you feel more depressed than usual and you are unable to control your feelings of sadness, then you may have a need for treatment.
Signs You Are Depressed:
- Withdrawing from loved ones, family, friends, and co-workers.
- Giving away beloved possessions.
- Not wanting to do what you enjoy.
- Not taking care of your body like you used to.
- Changes in eating habits, such as binging or restricting heavily.
- Apathy and lack of concern for things you used to love.
- Thoughts of suicide
- Feelings of hopelessness or impending doom that lasts for weeks at a time.
Treatment Options for Menopausal Women:
- Therapy, such as counseling.
- Exercises like yoga or pilates. They relax the body and open up your mind to clear itself and empty out negative emotions.
- Any type of physical activity outdoors.
Social anxiety is different from depression, but often includes symptoms like being afraid to go in public, feeling ashamed in public, not wanting to interact with friends, and feeling sweaty or panicked in public places.
Headaches & Migraines
Headaches and migraines are symptoms of menopause that many women will experience. Though headaches alone are rather common, women with menopause will usually experience them on a more severe level. Frequent headaches should be treated since it isn’t normal to seemingly have a “constant” headache or migraine.
- Alcohol consumption
- Sweating without replenishing water
- Irregular periods
- Lack of exercise
- Eyesight changes
- Pollution or allergies
- Diet, particularly one high in sugar
Women experience migraines will often get them due to decreasing vision or other problems. This is normal and is caused by estrogen levels going down during menstrual cycles or menopause. Hormonal induced headaches can be treated the same as any other. You may need extra strength pain reliever to truly relieve the pain however.
Your mouth is the secret to what is going on in your body. Various gum and mouth conditions can tell a dentist or doctor if anything is wrong with your body. This is why doctors often check the mouth during a visit. Breath changes, gums bleeding and changes in tastes are all part of the menopausal transition. This type of symptom is not common. If you experience bleeding gums and breath related changes that are visibly different, not just from eating something, then you must see a doctor. This could be a sign of something much worse going on within your body and it needs to be treated!
Certain problems in the mouth can be signs of heart disease or kidney problems, both of which women over 45 are prone to getting. Always note dramatic changes immediately and investigate after you notice them.
Women going through menopause commonly experience digestion issues. This can be from gas to nausea. Women with a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and whole grains are not as likely to experience these problems. Women that do not eat healthfully will probably feel more stomach cramps, constipation, and nausea after eating food.
Dairy appears to be one of the things that menopausal women cannot digest as easily after going through the big change. You can switch to soy products or various other non-dairy milks and products. This will definitely help your system ease up on the discomfort and gassiness.
Constipation can be managed through eating more fiber and drinking more water. If that doesn’t work out then you can always opt for fiber supplements or stool softener. There is not anything else that can be used to help constipation if these options do not work out.
If you have continuous problems with your digestive tract there may be a bigger problem. Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and other conditions can be brought on by menopause and newly discovered after you hit a certain age. These should be treated by a doctor and managed with the appropriate diet. If left untreated, you will likely feel very uncomfortable after meals and not be able to tolerate certain foods.
Everything Else Caused By Menopause
Menopause is certainly a rough time for women that are aging and changing. It isn’t something to hate however, but instead embrace. This is a whole new part of life where you can do new things and explore the world around you. After menopause you are not old and useless – certainly not! There is so much more for you to do out there, as long as you are healthy enough to do it. Take this as your opportunity to skydive, travel to Europe, or even foster children.
Menopause is often treated as something negative, like it is the end of your world. While it isn’t pleasant it can be managed and treated until it is over. Evaluate what really bothers you and discuss those things with a doctor or a holistic health expert. Remember to always let your spouse know what is going on so that he or she isn’t confused or angry at your changes.