Hot Flashes During Perimenopause
Most women don’t expect to have hot flashes until , so it can be a big surprise when they show up earlier, during perimenopause. Hot flashes sometimes called hot flushes and given the scientific name of vasomotor symptoms are the most commonly reported symptom of perimenopause. They’re also a regular feature of sudden menopause due to surgery or treatment with certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs.
Hot flashes tend to come on rapidly and can last from one to five minutes. They range in severity from a fleeting sense of warmth to a feeling of being consumed by fire “from the inside out.” A major hot flash can induce facial and upper-body flushing, sweating, chills, and sometimes confusion. Having one of these at an inconvenient time can be quite disconcerting. Hot flash frequency varies widely. Some women have a few over the course of a week others may experience 10 or more in the daytime, plus some at night.
Most American women have hot flashes around the time of menopause, but studies of other cultures suggest this experience is not universal. Far fewer Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian women report having hot flashes. In Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, women appear not to have any at all. These differences may reflect cultural variations in perceptions, semantics, and lifestyle factors, such as diet.
Ways To Manage Symptoms Of Menopause
Many of the menopause symptoms like mood swings and hot flashes have to do with the changing levels of estrogen in your body. Hormone therapy is a common treatment for menopause, but it is recommended you speak to your health care provider, as hormone therapy is not recommended for everyone, including women with a history of breast cancer.
Also, women may have different triggers for their hot flashes. Some common triggers are alcohol, caffeine, stress and tight clothing.
Dormire recommends having an honest and upfront conversation with your health care provider about your symptoms and possible treatments. There are a lot of options that we did not have a few years ago. Hormone therapy is not just taking a pill anymore, she said. There are even vaginal creams and patches that are hormonally based, which limit the impact administered hormones have on the rest of the body.
Women have also found success with using nonhormonal medication to treat hot flashes. Medicine usually given for pain or seizures as well as some antidepressants often offer relief.
No one way to treat menopause is better than the other. Because the symptoms vary so greatly from woman to woman, do not be afraid to try different management techniques. Speak with your health care provider to make a plan that is customized to you. If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, do not feel helpless. There are plenty of ways to manage your symptoms and find relief.
Mary Leigh Meyer
What Other Life Changes Affect Menopause
Menopause can be a rough time. In addition to the symptoms that may be tough to deal with, a lot of stressful life changes can happen around the same time as perimenopause and menopause.
Some changes you may go through during this time in your life include:
anxiety about illness, aging, and death
anxiety about the future, getting older, and losing independence
anxiety about being disabled
changes in family, social, and personal relationships
changes in identity or body image
children leaving home
getting divorced or losing a partner
having a partner become ill or disabled
more responsibility for grandchildren
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How Long Will Menopausal Transition Symptoms Last
Menopause is technically one full year without bleeding, and perimenopause is the stage before the final menstrual period, also known as the menopausal transition. Puberty and perimenopause are similar in that they both involve hormonal changes, and the transitions can take place over several years. Some medical organizations, such as the American Osteopathic Association, refer to perimenopause as reverse puberty in women.
According to NAMS, this phase can last four to eight years, and it comes with symptoms caused by hormone fluctuations, such as mood swings, poor sleep, and hot flashes.
The age at which a woman begins perimenopause can help predict how long the transition to menopause will last, according to research published in the journal Menopause in February 2017. The authors found that perimenopause lasted longer in women who started the transition at a younger age, and the women had more symptoms, such as hot flashes.
How Do I Know If Menopause Has Begun
You’re getting older, and menopause looms on the horizon. Are the changes you’ve felt lately an early sign of this next life stage – or is it just paranoia? In order to better understand menopause and all that it entails, it’s important to do some research on the most common symptoms in order to take the guesswork out of this major life change. There are a few key signs that will indicate the beginning of menopause.
How Will Menopause Affect Me
Symptoms of menopause may begin suddenly and be very noticeable, or they may be very mild at first. Symptoms may happen most of the time once they begin, or they may happen only once in a while. Some women notice changes in many areas. Some menopausal symptoms, such as moodiness, are similar to symptoms of premenstrual syndrome . Others may be new to you. For example:
- Your menstrual periods may not come as regularly as before. They also might last longer or be shorter. You might skip some months. Periods might stop for a few months and then start up again.
- Your periods might be heavier or lighter than before.
- You might have hot flashes and problems sleeping.
- You might experience mood swings or be irritable.
- You might experience vaginal dryness. Sex may be uncomfortable or painful.
- You may have less interest in sex. It may take longer for you to get aroused.
Other possible changes are not as noticeable. For example, you might begin to lose bone density because you have less estrogen. This can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and break easily. Changing estrogen levels can also raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Talk to your doctor about possible for your menopause symptoms if they bother you.
What Are The Complications And Effects Of Menopause On Chronic Medical Conditions
Osteoporosis is the deterioration of the quantity and quality of bone that causes an increased risk of fracture. The density of the bone normally begins to decrease in women during the fourth decade of life. However, that normal decline in bone density is accelerated during the menopausal transition. Consequently, both age and the hormonal changes due to the menopause transition act together to cause osteoporosis. Medications to treat osteoporosis are currently available and pose less risk than hormone therapy. Therefore, hormone therapy is not recommended for prevention or treatment of osteoporosis.
Prior to menopause, women have a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke when compared with men. Around the time of menopause, however, a women’s risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.
Coronary heart disease rates in postmenopausal women are two to three times higher than in women of the same age who have not reached menopause. This increased risk for cardiovascular disease may be related to declining estrogen levels, but in light of other factors, medical professionals do not advise postmenopausal women to take hormone therapy simply as a preventive measure to decrease their risk of heart attack or stroke.
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Lifestyle Factors In Controlling The Symptoms And Complications Of Menopause
Many of the symptoms of menopause and the medical complications that may develop in postmenopausal women can be lessened or even avoided by taking steps to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Regular exercise can help protect against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Exercise also has proven mental health benefits.
- Stop smoking
Which types of doctors treat menopausal symptoms?
The symptoms of menopause are often treated by a womanâs gynecologist. Primary care providers, including family medicine specialists and internists, may also treat the symptoms of menopause.
Healthy Diet And Menopause
Suggestions for maintaining good health through diet at the time of menopause include:
- Choose a wide variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, cereals, whole grains and small portions of lean meat, fish or chicken.
- Increase fluids and eat low-fat dairy foods with high calcium content.
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Is Estrogen Therapy A Good Treatment For Me
For many women, estrogen therapy relieves symptoms of vaginal dryness, night sweats and hot flashes. It can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Hormone therapy has fewer risks for younger women. In general, healthcare providers recommend that women who opt to use hormone therapy start it within 10 years of beginning menopause symptoms and use it for less than five years.
What Else Affects When A Woman Will Finally Stop Having Menstrual Periods
Researchers continue to explore a number of factors that may influence the timing of menopause.
The level of education a woman has completed is one thing that seems to correlate with menopause timing, says Faubion. Women who have more education tend to go through menopause later, she says.
A study published in January 2020 in JAMA Network Open found that pregnancy and breastfeeding may reduce the risk of early menopause.
How frequently a woman has sex has also been correlated with early menopause. A study published in January 2020 in Royal Society Open Science found that women who had sex at least once a week were less likely to go through menopause compared with women who had sex less than once a month.
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What Is Menopause Its A Moment In Time
Menopause is a specific point in time. Menopause occurs when periods stop and youve gone 12 consecutive months since having your last period. Once youve hit that moment, you enter post-menopause.
Reaching menopause means that youre no longer able to bear children. Every woman except for those whove had their ovaries removed before puberty will go through menopause.
When does menopause start?
The average menopause age is around 51. But some women experience menopause in their 40s with a small percentage experiencing menopause even younger. Some women may not reach menopause until their 60s.
Theres no way to know your exact menopause age until it happens, but genetics seem to play a strong role. You may get a general idea of when to expect menopause based on when your family members went through it, particularly your mother.
Genetics arent the only thing that can impact when menopause starts. Medical factors can also influence menopause timing. When the ovaries are removed, symptoms will begin to show immediately.
Certain medical conditions like autoimmune diseases have also been associated with early menopause. Women whove undergone treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy are also more likely to show symptoms earlier.
Mirena As Contraception During Perimenopause
Anyone who has been using birth control to prevent pregnancy should continue to do so until they enter menopause.
While fertility typically starts to decline in a womanâs mid-30s, it is possible for some women to get pregnant into their 50s.
According to the standard definition, menopause has begun if 12 months have passed without a period. However, because the Mirena coil can stop periods from occurring, it is important to use another method of determining when menopause has begun.
A doctor may do a blood test to check for follicle-stimulating hormone and estrogen levels. During perimenopause, FSH levels typically rise as estrogen levels fall. The doctor may need to run the test more than once, since these levels can naturally fluctuate.
There is no set time to remove the Mirena coil, unless it expires.
Womenâs Health Concern recommend waiting for 1 year after the last period before stopping birth control.
Anyone who removes the Mirena coil before they enter menopause should switch to another form of birth control if they wish to prevent pregnancy.
Some people choose to wait until their coils expire, even after menopause has begun. A doctor can provide specific guidance.
Hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate some symptoms of menopause. It is not a form of birth control.
HRT injections, pills, or patches may ease some menopause symptoms, such as:
- night sweats
- lower bone density
- vaginal dryness
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How Birth Control Masks Menopause Symptoms
Birth control pills are a form of hormonal contraception. Combination pills contain synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone, two naturally occurring hormones. Minipills contain only progestin, which is the synthetic version of progesterone.
In addition to preventing pregnancy, birth control pills help regulate your bodys hormone levels. As you approach menopause, your bodys natural estrogen levels will start to decrease but the pills synthetic hormones prevent your body from recognizing this decline.
Youll also continue to experience a monthly bleed, though this will depend on the type of pill youre taking. For example, women who take combination birth control pills will continue to have a week of period-type bleeding each month. Women who take the minipill may experience more irregular bleeding.
Birth control pills also have side effects that are similar to menopause symptoms. These include:
How Can I Treat The Symptoms
There are a bunch of ways.
Lifestyle changes. A healthy diet and regular exercise program will help manage your symptoms and boost your health. This is a great time to finally kick any old, unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking too much alcohol. To help with hot flashes, dress lightly and in layers. Avoid triggers like caffeine and spicy foods. And if you stay sexually active, that may help preserve your vaginal lining.
Prescription medication for hot flashes. If you still have your uterus, your doctor might prescribe treatment with estrogen and progesterone. This is called combination hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy . It helps with hot flashes and night sweats, and it may help prevent osteoporosis. If you donât have a uterus, you might get estrogen alone.
Hormone therapy isnât for everyone. Donât take it if you’ve ever had breast cancer, uterine or “endometrial” cancer, blood clots, liver disease, or a stroke. Also don’t take it if you might be pregnant or you have undiagnosed vaginal bleeding.
If you can’t or don’t want to take hormones, other medications can ease symptoms. They include antidepressants, antiseizure drugs, or blood pressure medications to help with hot flashes and mood swings.
Prescription and OTC medication for vaginal dryness and sleep problems. You can try topical estrogen, lubricants, and non-estrogen prescriptions for dryness and painful sex. OTC or prescription sleep aids can help if you have trouble falling asleep.
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What Age Is Considered Early For Menopause
If you reach menopause before age 40, that is considered premature menopause, says Faubion. This occurs in about 1 to 2 percent of women, she says.
Experiencing menopause at 40 to 45 years of age is called early menopause, and that occurs in about 5 to 7 percent of the population, so its safe to say that at least 7 percent of women are going to go through menopause early or prematurely, says Faubion. Menopause at age 46 or older is considered normal, she says.
Do Phytoestrogen Treatments Reduce The Number And Severity Of Hot Flushes And Are They Safe And Acceptable
Cochrane evidenceCochrane Reviews are systematic reviews. In systematic reviews we search for and summarize studies that answer a specific research question . The studies are identified, assessed, and summarized by using a systematic and predefined approach. They inform recommendations for healthcare and research. More: A Cochrane review includes 43 randomisedRandomization is the process of randomly dividing into groups the people taking part in a trial. One group will be given the intervention being tested and compared with a group which does not receive the intervention . Morecontrolled trialsA trial in which a group is given a intervention being tested is compared with a group which does not receive the intervention . More with over 4000 women, but many were small, brief and poor quality, and looked at many different types of phytoestrogens.
There is no conclusive evidence to show that phytoestrogen supplements effectively reduce the frequency or severity of hot flushes and night sweats in perimenopausal or postmenopausal women.
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Menopause Symptoms At Age 45
Around the age of 45 many women enter pre-menopause and start to notice the first signs that menopause is coming. For some women, the symptoms are mild and short-lasting. For others, menopause symptoms can be disruptive and long-lasting.
Some of the earliest signs of menopause may include:
Changes to your period
Period changes are usually the first signs of menopause. For example, your period may start to happen every six to eight weeks. Or you may miss a couple months before it comes back again. You may also have a heavier flow or a lighter flow from time to time.
That said, its important to know you can still get pregnant during perimenopause. So, continue to use birth control in the lead up to menopause as you normally would. Also, if youve missed your period and youre not sure whether perimenopause has started, consider taking a pregnancy test as a first step.
As your hormone levels change, you may find yourself more irritable, anxious, sad or forgetful than usual. Your sex drive can also decrease or increase.
These changes are very typical as your body approaches menopause. So, be kind to yourself, practice self-care and ask for help if youre having trouble.
You may find it difficult to get to sleep, or you may wake up in the middle of the night. Sleep trouble can contribute to a constant feeling of tiredness, which can make you moodier.