How Can You Alleviate Perimenopausal Symptoms
Some women deal with the symptoms of perimenopause, and some women seek treatment for specific health concerns. Women with heavy bleeding, periods that last longer than seven days, spotting between periods or cycles that are less than 21 days should contact a doctor.
Typically, perimenopause is a gradual transition, and no particular test indicates what is happening to the body. Hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen treatments and antidepressants can help treat perimenopausal symptoms.
Start by identifying what’s bothering you most and then working with your doctor to address it. There are steps you can take to feel better. Lifestyle changes that can make a big impact in easing perimenopausal symptoms and improving your overall health include:
How Long Does Menopause Last On Average
If you are going through menopause, youre probably wondering how long the symptoms will last. While the answer to this question is different for every woman, it lasts an average of four or five years. The nature of the symptoms also varies from person to person, and the specific timeline of symptoms is highly variable as well. Heres what you need to know.
How Can Herbal Remedies Help
There are some herbal remedies which can help with symptoms of the menopause and the troublesome periods to go with them.
- Agnus castus Agnus castus is a licensed herbal remedy used to help relieve the symptoms of PMS. In the lead up to the menopause your periods might become heavier and more painful than before due to fluctuations in the hormone oestrogen
- Soy isoflavones Our Menopause Support contains an extract of fermented soya beans, providing phytoestrogenic isoflavones to gently support you through the menopause
- Sage Our Menoforce® Sage tablets is a licensed herbal remedy used to relieve excessive sweating and menopausal hot flushes.
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Why Are My Menopause Symptoms Getting Worse
Symptoms of perimenopause leading up to menopause may increase in frequency and intensity as hormonal shifts become more severe. Around the age of 35, estrogen and progesterone production enters a phase of gradual decline. You may notice any symptoms from these gradual shifts.
In your 40s, the ratios between estrogen and progesterone will be in flux. Ovulation may not happen with every period or your periods may become irregular. These shifts in your hormones can cause more noticeable symptoms.
How Long Do Menopause Symptoms Last
Menopause symptoms are reported to last for an average of 7.4 years with some women experiencing them for only a few months or for over a decade.
In general, women suffer from menopause symptoms up to a few years into postmenopause. However, this depends on the individual as some women report experiencing hot flashes well into their 70s and 80s.
Having said that, all postmenopausal women are at an increased risk of developing other serious health complications, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, and they should have their hormone levels monitored for a proper treatment plan.
What Is Hormone Therapy
During menopause, your body goes through major hormonal changes, decreasing the amount of hormones it makes particularly estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries. When your ovaries no longer make enough estrogen and progesterone, hormone therapy can be used as a supplement. Hormone therapy boosts your hormone levels and can help relieve some symptoms of menopause. Its also used as a preventative measure for osteoporosis.
There are two main types of hormone therapy:
- Estrogen therapy : In this treatment, estrogen is taken alone. Its typically prescribed in a low dose and can be taken as a pill or patch. ET can also be given to you as a cream, vaginal ring, gel or spray. This type of treatment is used after a hysterectomy. Estrogen alone cant be used if a woman still has a uterus.
- Estrogen Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy : This treatment is also called combination therapy because it uses doses of estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is available in its natural form, or also as a progestin . This type of hormone therapy is used if you still have your uterus.
Hormone therapy can relieve many of the symptoms of menopause, including:
- Hot flashes and night sweats.
- Vaginal dryness.
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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 Causes The Menopause
The menopause;is caused by a change in the balance of the bodyâs sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Premature;or early menopause;can occur at any age, and in many cases thereâs no clear cause.
Sometimes itâs caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries , some;breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy;or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Downâs syndrome;or;Addisonâs disease.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021
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When Menopause Comes Early
There are;risks associated with early menopause:
- Loss of fertility at a younger age.
- An increased risk of osteoporosis and fracture in women who do not take menopausal hormone therapy .
Early menopause is particularly difficult for women who have not yet started or completed their families.;
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How Long Does Menopause Last Ask Dr Jean
When it comes to women’s health, there is no such thing as a silly question. Do you have a question you want answered, but have been too afraid or embarrassed to bring it up with your GP? Or you forgot to ask while you were in the doctor’s surgery? Now, you can ‘Ask Dr Jean’.
This question has been answered by Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Sonia Davison .
What Are The Symptoms Of Menopause
There are over 30 menopause symptoms, though some occur more frequently than others. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Irregular periods, which are one of the first indications that menopause has come
- Hot flashes, which happen when an estrogen deficiency deregulates hypothalamus functioning
- Night sweats, nocturnal hot flashes that can leave a woman in a sweat
- Weight gain that is caused by a slower metabolism and a redistribution of fat storage in the body
- Mood swings due to drastic estrogen fluctuations that negatively impact healthy serotonin levels
- Depression from major life stressors and hormonal imbalance
- Vaginal dryness, which is a loss of lubrication in the vagina that can make sex painful
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Is Hrt A Good Option
HRT is very effective at treating hot flushes. It protects against osteoporosis, too, although the benefit depends on how long you take it for and drops off once you stop. Taking HRT slightly increases your risk of getting breast cancer while you’re taking it, but this depends on how long you take HRT for, and the risk goes down when you stop treatment.
The risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism is increased by some forms of HRT but not others. Your GP can advise on the specifics of risks and benefits for you, depending on your medical history.
There are lots of lifestyle tips to cut the impact of hot flushes and sweats too, including avoiding woolly jumpers and polo necks; cutting out alcohol and caffeine; switching to a thinner duvet; and wearing several thin layers you can take on and off. Increasing the amount of soya you eat and drink may also relieve flushing, as can herbal remedies like Menoherb® or red clover.
With thanks to ‘My Weekly’ where this article was originally published.
Can I Get Pregnant During Menopause
The possibility of pregnancy disappears once you are postmenopausal, you have been without your period for an entire year . However, you can actually get pregnant during the menopause transition . If you dont want to become pregnant, you should continue to use some form of birth control until you have gone fully through menopause. Ask your healthcare provider before you stop using contraception.
For some women, getting pregnant can be difficult once theyre in their late 30s and 40s because of a decline in fertility. However, if becoming pregnant is the goal, there are fertility-enhancing treatments and techniques that can help you get pregnant. Make sure to speak to your healthcare provider about these options.
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Should I Continue Using Birth Control During The Transition To Menopause
Yes. You can still get pregnant during perimenopause, the transition to menopause, even if you miss your period for a month or a few months. During perimenopause you may still ovulate, or release an egg, on some months.
But it is impossible to know for sure when you will ovulate. If you dont want to get pregnant, you should continue to use birth control until one full year after your last period. Talk to your doctor about your birth control needs. Learn more about different .;
You cant get pregnant after menopause, but anyone who has sex can get ;. If you are not in a monogamous relationship in which you and your partner have sex with each other and no one else, protect yourself by using a male condom or ;correctly every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. After menopause you may be more likely to get an STI from sex without a condom. Vaginal dryness or irritation is more common after menopause and can cause small cuts or tears during sex, exposing you to STIs.
When Does Perimenopause Start
Before you experience menopause, youll go through a transitional period, known as perimenopause. This phase can last for months or years, and usually starts when youre in your mid-to-late 40s. On average, most women experience perimenopause for about four years before their periods stop completely.
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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.
After Your Period Stops
The permanent end of menstrual periods doesnt necessarily mean the end of bothersome menopause symptoms, however.
Theres a window of about eight years in which women can feel those flashes and sweats, Dr. Audlin says.
Women who have reached menopause can expect menopause symptoms to become worse than they were during perimenopause, the 2- to 10-year stage leading up to the permanent end of menstruation. Experts dont know exactly why this happens, but its believed to be related to the hypothalamus, the portion of the brain that regulates temperature.
The hypothalamus is acutely responsive to estrogens, Audlin says. Leading up to menopause, your estrogen levels fluctuate. When theyre high, you dont have symptoms. But when you go into menopause and theres a complete lack of estrogen, you start to notice those symptoms more.
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How Is Menopause Diagnosed
There are several ways your healthcare provider can diagnose menopause. The first is discussing your menstrual cycle over the last year. If you have gone a full year without a period, you may be postmenopausal. Another way your provider can check if you are going through menopause is a blood test that checks your follicle stimulating hormone level. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland this gland is located at the base of your brain. However, this test can be misleading during the beginning of menopause when your body is transitioning and your hormone levels are fluctuating up and down. Hormone testing always need to be interpreted in the context of what is happening with the menstrual period.
For many women, a blood test is not necessary. If you are having the symptoms of menopause and your periods have been irregular, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to diagnose menopause after your conversation.
Putting On A Few Pounds
Many women do put on weight around the menopause, but it’s not inevitable and your weight shouldn’t keep going up. It’s estimated that the ‘average’ woman puts on about 5 lb after the menopause, but it doesn’t all go on straightaway. Certainly your metabolism does tend to slow down as you get older, so you burn up fewer calories. However, with small adjustments in your diet, you may well be able to avoid putting on weight.
The bad news is that even if you don’t put on weight, you might find that the menopause does cause your shape to change. There is evidence that you tend to shift more towards an ‘apple’ rather than a ‘pear’ shape around the menopause, with excess weight stored around your midriff. This can increase your risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes.
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How Long Do Menopause
Even though menopause marks a point in time in which a woman has not menstruated for 12 months and is no longer ovulating , the symptoms of menopause may persist.
Most women stop having hot flashes within five years following their final menstrual period. However, a report on the;management of menstrual symptoms notes that the Penn Ovarian Aging Study found that more than one-third of women continued to have moderate to severe hot flashes for 10 years or more. Women who began having hot flashes as they entered perimenopause had them longer, for an average of 11.6 years. African-American women had a longer duration than white women.
Vaginal dryness, burning, and itchiness also occurs;as a result of estrogen deficiency. The difference with this symptom is that it tends to get worse as women get older. In fact, only between one quarter and one third of women in perimenopause or early postmenopause experience vaginal dryness. But as women reach late postmenopause, about half report vaginal dryness.;
There are other symptoms that may begin during perimenopause and persist throughout postmenopause. These include:
- Sleep problems
- Cognitive changes such as memory loss
- Muscle and joint pains
Symptoms Of The Menopause
As the decline in hormones oestrogen and progesterone during the menopause is typically quite a gradual progress, it often involves fluctuations along the way. As a result of these fluctuations, a number of symptoms can arise:
- Heavy periods, with a shorter cycle As a result of the fluctuating hormones, and higher levels of oestrogen your periods might become heavier and come more often than every 28 days.
- Irregular periods, lighter flow Irregular periods are common in the lead up to the menopause. Your periods may become lighter and disappear for weeks or months at a time
- Hot flushes and night sweats Hot flushes and night sweats are common symptoms in the menopause. It isnt exactly clear why this happens but it is thought that fluctuating levels of hormones somehow interact with the temperature control centre in the brain, the hypothalamus
- Low libido A combination of mood swings and vaginal dryness as a result of low levels of hormones can affect your libido in the lead up to the menopause
- Weight changes Sex hormones can influence other hormones which are important for regulating your body weight stress hormones and metabolism regulating hormones can easily come under fire
- Mood swings Decreasing levels of hormones can affect your mood mood swings or episodes of low mood arent uncommon.
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