What Is Perimenopause Its When Menopause Symptoms Begin
Perimenopause or pre-menopause is a word that means around menopause. Perimenopause describes what happens to your body leading up to menopause. This stage typically starts about four to eight years before menopause.
When you enter perimenopause youll probably start to notice some early menopause symptoms like changes to your period or mood shifts. These changes happen because your bodys estrogen and progesterone levels are starting to naturally decline. As your ovaries produce lower amounts of these hormones, your body adapts. Its basically the reverse of what happened to your hormones as a teenager.
Why Do Hot Flashes Get Worse At Night How To Stop Them
There comes a period in every womans life where their biological clock reaches the time where menopause begins. When it comes to the sexual fertility of a woman, menstruation is the milestone that marks the physiological readiness to bear children. And at the opposite end of the time spectrum, menopause is the phase of life that signals the end of fertility for women. Menopause is the point in a womans life where she stops having her period and naturally occurs between the ages of 45-50 years old. However, there is no rhyme or reason as to which symptoms are experienced or the duration of the menopausal phases from woman to woman. One of the most notable symptoms of menopause and the time period leading up to menopause is hot flashes. Below, we will explain in more detail the phases of menopause, the symptoms and how to deal with them, specifically hot flashes.
Other Changes During Menopause
The loss of estrogen during menopause can cause changes in the vaginal and vulvar skin. These changes can result in vaginal dryness, burning and discomfort, or painful intercourse. Most women need a lubricant.
There are many different formulations, but silicone-based lubricants are best. Be aware that most over-the-counter lubricants contain preservatives, which can cause irritation. A preservative-free silicone lubricant or natural product, such as extra virgin olive oil or organic unrefined coconut oil, can also work.
Many women also experience painful spasms of the interior pelvic muscles, called vaginismus. Specialized physical therapy is a very effective treatment. Our center has a group of female physical therapists who are specially trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation.
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What Causes Bleeding After Menopause
Bleeding after menopause is rarely cause for concern. It does need to be investigated, however, because in very few cases it will be an indicator of something more serious.
In about 90 per cent of cases, a particular cause for bleeding after menopause will not be found. This is not a cause for alarm, if there is a serious problem it will be identified through investigations. Most of the time, postmenopausal bleeding is caused by:
- inflammation and thinning of the lining of your vagina
- thinning of the lining of your uterus
- growths in the cervix or uterus which are usually not cancerous
- thickened endometrium often because of hormone replacement therapy
- abnormalities in the cervix or uterus.
These are generally not serious problems and can be cured relatively easily.
However, about 10 per cent of the time, post-menopausal bleeding is linked to cancer of the cervix or uterus and so it is very important to have it investigated.
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How To Manage Hot Flashes
There are some tips to help a woman sail through easily during a hot flash episode or to reduce their severity:
- Try staying cool especially at nights by using a chill pillow. This can be filled with water or some other cooling material to soothe you during a hot flash.
- Wear lightweight clothes and preferably of breathable fabric like cotton.
- Use fans, air-coolers or air-conditioners to keep you feeling relaxed and cool.
- Practice yoga or deep-breathing exercises in the mornings and evenings.
- Exercising daily and indulge in swimming, dancing, walking or cycling as these help regulate the body temperatures.
- Use home remedies like botanical and herb products. But these may counter the effects of other medications so one should take a doctors advice before using them.
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Menopause And Excessive Sweating: What You Can Do
Some changes to your regular routine may help cool hot flashes.
Work on your weight. Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to have frequent hot flashes, Omicioli says. A study of 338 overweight or obese women found that those who lost weight over 6 months had a bigger improvement in hot flashes than those who didnât lose weight.
Exercise. Although studies havenât been conclusive, itâs thought that regular physical exercise lowers hot flash frequency.
Stop smoking. Several studies have linked smoking to hot flashes. One study found that heavy smokers were four times more likely to have hot flashes than women who never smoked.
Include soy in your diet. According to the National Center for Complemetary and Alternative Medicine, results of studies showing that soy reduces hot flashes has been inconsistent. To see if it works for you, you might try adding two to three servings of soy to your diet, Omicioli says. Try soybeans, tofu, tempeh, or miso.
Stock up on tanks and cardigans. Wear lightweight clothes and dress in layers so you can shed heavier clothing when a hot flash strikes. Wearing a material at night that wicks away moisture may help you sleep
Control the air temperature. Lower the heat, run the air conditioning, open a window, or run a fan during the day and while you sleep.
Pay attention to potential triggers. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food may trigger hot flashes in some women.
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What Happens After Menopause
During post-menopause the time after menopause your body is still producing hormones. As reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone decline once your childbearing years end. But that doesnt mean theyre not needed at all, so your body still makes them, just in lower amounts.
In the years of post-menopause, you may still experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance or maybe even have certain symptoms for the first time. For example, its not unusual to have continuing hot flashes as a result of estrogen deficiency. Some women in post-menopause experience vaginal dryness, which affects a womans interest in sex and can make sexual activity uncomfortable or even painful. The most common post-menopausal symptoms are:
- Hot flashes
- Bone loss and fracture
- Memory loss
If you experience postmenopausal bleeding no matter how slight or brief talk with your OB/GYN healthcare provider as soon as possible to rule out any serious issues.
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Yoga Tip For Hot Flushes:
You feel the flush starting. Stop. Pause. Whats your predominating sensation in this moment? And now? And now? And now? How about now? Flush over? Congratulations you have just been fully present over the course of several present moments.
The hot flush can be your friend because, if you stop seeing it as something you need to control, something you are suffering, something you want to end, and simply experience it as a sensation arising in each present moment, well hey, youve just seen reality for those few moments and thats kinda cool. Im mindful here also, of studies of menopausal symptoms in various cultures and across various socio-economic groups. Worldwide, it appears, poorer, busier, more rural women experience less agitating symptoms than richer, less occupied, city-dwelling women. Could be the diet, could be the not getting real ladies. No ones saying that night sweats are a whole pile of fun. Believe me, I know. Equally, no one can say that a huge change to a new and empowering way of life, is going to be a bed of roses.
If youd like to hear more from Estelle I highly recommend this blog called Embrace The Change!
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Bioidentical Or Traditional Hormone Therapy
Traditional hormone therapy uses plant derived, man made hormones or hormones found in the urine of pregnant horses. Patients can take it orally, via patch, or topically to the genital area.
Bioidentical hormones are plant derived or man-made hormones similar to the ones your body produces. Some bioidentical hormones are the same as those used in conventional products. Others are not FDA approved and are available only from compounding pharmacies.
Bioidentical products can include a variety of estrogens, progesterone, testosterone or other hormones. Common bioidentical preparations include one or more of three estrogens: estradiol, estriol, and estrone. The estradiol in a traditional hormone therapy regimen is the same as in a bioidentical one. Typically bioidentical hormones are prescribed topically at a dose designed to affect the whole body. They can also be used topically in the vaginal area or given orally.
If a woman still has her uterus, it is important to combine both bioidentical and traditional preparations of estrogen with progesterone to prevent uterine cancer.
According to the Food and Drug Administration , bioidentical hormones arent safer or more effective than the traditional hormones, however, there is some debate in this area. There is some data that topical estrogens are safer than oral. Groups like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists caution against the use of compounded products specifically, citing safety concerns.
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How Long Does It Last
The average hot flash lasts from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Everyone gets them with a different frequency and intensity.
In most people experiencing it during menopause, hot flashes last between 6 months and 2 years. Often this symptom will stop once youve completed the menopause transition.
Up to half of women report continued hot flashes for a few years after menopause. Some keep getting them for 10 years or more well into their 70s or 80s. Things like your genes and hormone levels will dictate when this symptom stops.
Can Menopause Affect My Sex Life
After menopause, your body has less estrogen. This major change in your hormonal balance can affect your sex life. Many menopausal women may notice that theyre not as easily aroused as before. Sometimes, women also may be less sensitive to touch and other physical contact than before menopause.
These feelings, coupled with the other emotional changes you may be experiencing, can all lead to a decreased interest in sex. Keep in mind that your body is going through a lot of change during menopause. Some of the other factors that can play a role in a decreased sex drive can include:
- Having bladder control problems.
- Having trouble sleeping through the night.
- Experiencing stress, anxiety or depression.
- Coping with other medical conditions and medications.
All of these factors can disrupt your life and even cause tension in your relationship. In addition to these changes, the lower levels of estrogen in your body can actually cause a decrease in the blood supply to the vagina. This can cause dryness. When you dont have the right amount of lubrication in the vagina, it can be thin, pale and dry. This can lead to painful intercourse.
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What Happens In Your Body During A Hot Flash
Menopause is the main cause of hot flashes. During this transition, levels of the hormone estrogen fall. This drop in estrogen throws off your bodys thermostat a gland called the hypothalamus at the base of your brain that regulates your internal temperature.
Lower estrogen levels send a signal to the hypothalamus that youre too hot. In response, your brain sends a message to your body to cool you off just as it would do if you were outside on a hot day:
- Blood vessels near the surface of your skin widen to release heat. This creates the red flush you see on your skin.
- Your heart pumps faster.
- Your sweat glands open up. The sweat evaporates off your skin to cool down your body.
All of these actions produce the rush of heat that you feel during a hot flash.
Your body temperature can also rise several degrees during a hot flash. This rush of heat can make you feel very uncomfortable.
Certain things you do can even set off or worsen hot flashes, including:
- drinking strong coffee or tea
- eating spicy foods
- being outside on a hot day
- running a fever
- dressing too warmly
Some people who have their ovaries surgically removed go into premature menopause. They can also develop hot flashes.
Other causes of hot flashes arent due to the same low estrogen levels that cause them during menopause. Chemotherapy or hormone treatment for cancer can also trigger hot flashes, as can alcohol and certain medications.
A few diseases have also been linked to hot flashes, including:
Are You Post Menopausal
The average age of menopause is 51 years. However, women who smoke often go through menopause earlier than nonsmokers. The average life expectancy for women in the U.S. is 84 years. This means that they spend about 50% of their adult lives in postmenopause.
A woman is post menopausal when shes had an entire year without her period. It brings on many unpleasant symptoms. Most improve by themselves within 2-5 years after your last period. But some women experience symptoms up to 10 years.
The symptoms of menopause and post menopause can be extremely uncomfortable. They include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- A change in the length and flow of your periods
- Lack of concentration
- Hair loss or more hair on the face
Hot flashes are the most troubling symptom when a woman is post menopausal. 75% of women have hot flashes. They are more severe in African-American women and smokers. Suddenly feeling overheated and sweaty drives many women to think about HRT.
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Can I Put Off Menopause
Natural menopause is a normal transition process that you cant delay or stop. Even around the age of 35, as your hormones start to transition you may not notice symptoms. By your early to mid-40s, fluctuations of your sex hormones estrogen and progesterone may increase. This is when most women begin to notice symptoms. These symptoms may continue to increase in severity through their late 40s and early 50s until they quit menstruating. No matter what age menopause begins, I always suggest that women focus on techniques that reduce their symptoms so they can feel their best during this important stage in their life.
Other Menopause Symptoms And Treatments
For most women, hot flashes and trouble sleeping are the biggest problems associated with menopause. But, some women have other symptoms, such as irritability and mood swings, anxiety and depression, headaches, and even heart palpitations. Many of these problems, like mood swings and depression, are often improved by getting a better night’s sleep. Discussing mood issues with your doctor can help you identify the cause, screen for severe depression, and choose the most appropriate intervention. For depression, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant medication.
If you want to change your lifestyle to see if you can reduce your symptoms, or if you decide any of your symptoms are severe enough to need treatment, talk with your doctor.
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Menopause And Excessive Sweating: When Medication Is In Order
Some women find relief with lifestyle changes, but others need more. The most important thing to remember: talk to your doctor and think about all of the possibilities for treatment, says Mary Lake Polan, MD, PhD, adjunct professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University School of Medicine in New York City.
Finding a treatment that works for you is a highly individual thing. âI tell patients to keep trying,â Polan says. Sooner or later youâll find relief from hot flashes and night sweats.
Hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is the most effective way to treat hot flashes, but the Women’s Health Initiative study found an increased risk for heart disease, blood clots, and stroke, and an increase in breast cancer when women took oral estrogen and progestin long-term, Omicioli says. The increased heart disease risk was in older women who were 10 or more years postmenopausal, she says.
But thereâs emerging evidence that non-oral forms of estrogen — a cream, gel, patch, or ring — may have safety advantages in reducing risk of blood clots and stroke, Omicioli says.
The WHI study didnât find an increased risk of breast cancer in women who took estrogen alone, Omicioli says. The study also looked at one dose of oral estrogen and synthetic progestin. âThere may be a lower risk with progesterone vs. synthetic progestin,â she says.
The supplement black cohosh may also help some women reduce hot flashes, although the results of scientific studies have been mixed.
Treatments For Hot Flushes
Many women learn to live with menopause-related hot flushes, but if theyÃ¢re really bothering you and interfering with your day-to-day life, talk to a GP about treatments that may help.
The most effective treatment for hot flushes is hormone replacement therapy , which usually completely gets rid of them. Your doctor will talk to you about the benefits and risks of using HRT.
If you have had a type of cancer thatÃ¢s sensitive to hormones, such as breast cancer, your doctor will not recommend HRT and will talk to you about alternatives.
Other medicines have been shown to help, including some antidepressants and a medicine called clonidine.
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How Long Does Menopause Last
Early symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances and mood swings. The reason for these symptoms can be attributed to fluctuating levels of ovarian hormones in the body. This journey is unique for every woman, so its important to understand each stage of this natural process and how long you can expect to experience menopausal symptoms.