How To Minimize Menopause Symptoms
Are you having trouble sleeping? Sweating at night? Having hot flashes? If so, you may be experiencing the effects of menopause . And, like most women, you may be looking for ways to relieve these symptoms without the added stress.
The menopausal transition can be a difficult time for women because of the various symptoms that occur due to hormonal changes. Vasomotor symptoms or hot flashes can affect 50-80% of women, and vaginal symptoms such as dryness or atrophy can affect 10-40% of women, said;Dr. Erin Mankus, a gynecologist/obstetrician at University Health and assistant professor with UT Health San Antonio.
The good news is, there are various lifestyle and treatment options available for these symptoms to improve your quality of life. It is important to discuss these options with your healthcare provider to determine the treatment that is safe and effective for you.
Uterine Bleeding: What’s Normal What’s Not
One concern for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women is knowing whether irregular uterine bleeding is normal. Most women notice normal changes in their cycle as they approach menopause. Periods are often heavy or more frequent, and they may stop and start. But abnormal uterine bleeding may be a sign of benign gynecologic problems or even uterine cancer. Consult your physician if any of the following situations occur:
- You have a few periods that last three days longer than usual.
- You have a few menstrual cycles that are shorter than 21 days.
- You bleed after intercourse.
- You have heavy monthly bleeding .
- You have spotting .
- You have bleeding that occurs outside the normal pattern associated with hormone use.
When you report abnormal vaginal bleeding, your clinician will try to determine whether the cause is an anatomic problem or a hormonal issue. He or she also will investigate other possible causes. In addition to identifying the cause, he or she will help you manage any excess bleeding, which sometimes leads to anemia.
On rare occasions, postmenopausal women experience uterine bleeding from a “rogue ovulation,” which is vaginal bleeding after a hiatus that may be preceded by premenstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness. Presumably, the ovaries are producing some hormones and maybe a final egg.
Update Your Healthy Sleep Strategies To Rest Better And Fight Weight Gain
Insomnia;is an extremely common symptom of perimenopause, which is the period of time when womens bodies transition toward their final menstrual cycle. And according to the North American Menopause Society, that transition phase can last for four to eight years. All that time spent waking up unrefreshed means youre probably feeling too exhausted to head out for a workout, too. Its imperative to get sleep as you get older, says Peeke. One of the things that truly helps combat the menopot is high-quality sleep.
Inadequate sleep impacts our hunger hormones, ghrelin and;leptin. Ghrelin and leptin become dysfunctional when you dont;get enough sleep, so good luck trying to lose weight if you dont fix that problem, says Peeke.
Palumbo says that you should close your kitchen and brush your teeth by 7 p.m. This will keep you from eating late, which can keep you from getting restful slumber and cause you to pack on the pounds. You shouldnt be eating before you sleep, because it will interrupt your sleep, she says.
Aim for a minimum of seven hours of shut-eye, although this varies from person to person and over time. Keep your bedroom cool to offset hot flashes and night sweats, and turn off all glowing screens for at least an hour before you want to;fall asleep. If you really cant fathom doing that, wear amber-lensed glasses to counteract the sleep-disrupting effects of blue light, or see if your device has an amber light setting, says Peeke.
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Move More Once You Hit Midlife Say Experts
Weight gain may feel like its inevitable once youve entered your fourth decade, but the truth is, it doesnt have to be. Natural;hormonal changes;mean you may start to notice symptoms of;menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, but you dont need to idly accept that the number on the bathroom scale will steadily creep up, too.
Heres whats going on with your body if elastic-waist pants are now your go-to fashion staple: Weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your belly. I named the extra fat that collects around your middle the menopot, says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, author of;Body for Life for Women.
What we did when we were 30 and what we do when were 60 is very different, says Kathryn A. Boling, MD, a family medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. We have to adjust our exercise some as we get older. If youve lost some gusto, create incentives for yourself to stay moving. I have an Apple Watch, and I like to see that circle closed, she says. Peeke says you dont have to go to a gym, but you do need to do enough strength training to keep your muscles strong and your metabolism revved. Try activities that have you lifting, pushing, and pulling, she says.
Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
There are several drug-free ways to reduce the impact of hot flushes and night sweats. These include:
- Counselling and psychological treatment such as cognitive behaviour therapy .
- Hypnosis may also be helpful.
- Some women also benefit from acupuncture.
Whilst paced breathing, exercise and relaxation programs may be helpful for your general physical and emotional health, they do not significantly reduce menopausal symptoms.
Non-hormonal drug treatments
Several prescription medications have been shown to reduce hot flushes and night sweats. Unfortunately, these do not improve vaginal dryness. Prescription medications for hot flushes and sweats include:
- certain antidepressants
- a drug called gabapentin
- a blood pressure medication called clonidine.
These drugs may reduce hot flushes and nights sweats from around 40-60 per cent . Using antidepressants and using treatments that improve sleep may also improve mood.
For more information see the fact sheet Treating hot flushes: An alternative to menopausal hormone therapy
Menopausal Hormone Therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy contains oestrogen to treat menopausal symptoms and may contain a progestogen to protect the lining of the uterus from cancer in women who have not had a hysterectomy. Menopausal hormone therapy is also known as hormone replacement therapy or hormone therapy . ;
See the fact sheet Menopausal Hormone Therapy for more information on:
Compounded or bioidentical hormone therapy
Recommended Reading: What Are Some Signs Of Menopause
Increase Your Intake Of Water:
Menopausal women often experience dryness, possibly because of a fall in their oestrogen levels. However, you can make this up by drinking water through the day, about six to eight glasses a day. By doing this, you also prevent yourself from experiencing bloating that is a natural fallout of hormonal changes. Additionally, water prevents any weight gain by giving you a feeling of satiation while also increasing your metabolic level.
Strengthen Your Bones With Calcium And Vitamin D:
Its normal to undergo hormonal changes during menopause, which lead to weak bones. This could well be a first sign of early menopause. Weak bones increase the risk of osteoporosisa condition that can be prevented by taking a regular dose of calcium and Vitamin D tablets or you could add these nutrients naturally in your diet. Foods rich in calcium include milk, cheese and yogurt.
To increase your intake of Vitamin D, take a walk in the early morning sunlight. When exposed to sunlight, your skin will produce natural Vitamin D. You can still get your Vitamin D with a sufficient dosage of natural supplements. Sunlight is your main source of vitamin D, since your skin produces it when exposed to the sun. However, as you get older, your skin gets less efficient at making it.
If you arent out in the sun much or if you cover up your skin, either taking a supplement or increasing food sources of vitamin D may be important.
Read more: Getting Pregnant While Premenopausal
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.
What Is The Average Weight Gain During Menopause
According to the Obesity in Action Coalition , the drop in estrogen that occurs during perimenopause and menopause causes an average weight gain of about five to ten pounds. Of course, this will vary for each individual dealing with the issue based on their own personal health.;
Along with the hormonal fluctuations packing on pounds, symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and digestion issues can all add up to more numbers on the scale. You might not be overindulging or changing your diet in any way, but still find yourself with gaining weight because you lack the energy or feel too uncomfortable to hit the gym or go on as many walks as you did before hitting menopause.
You might also notice and be irritated by that your clothes dont fit as well as they used to, even if you actually havent gained any weight. This happens when our hormones shift the way our bodies store fat. Prior to perimenopause, estrogen deposits fat in your thighs, hips, and buttocks, the OAC explains. During and after menopause, the drop in estrogen leads to an overall increase in total body fat, but now, more so in your midsection.
This becomes what is known as visceral abdominal fat which causes menopausal belly fat. Aside from affecting the way we look , this type of fat is associated with increased risk for serious conditions like heart disease, breast cancer, uterine cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, sleep apnea, and many other troubling diseases.
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Can Menopause Affect Sleep
Some women may experience trouble sleeping through the night and insomnia during menopause. Insomnia is an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. This can be a normal side effect of menopause itself, or it could be due to another symptom of menopause. Hot flashes are a common culprit of sleepless nights during menopause.
If hot flashes keep you awake at night, try:
- Staying cool at night by wearing loose clothing.
- Keeping your bedroom well-ventilated.
Avoiding certain foods and behaviors that trigger your hot flashes. If spicy food typically sets off a hot flash, avoid eating anything spicy before bed.
The Most Common Menopause Symptoms
Women can experience a variety of symptoms and conditions related to changes in sex hormone levels and aging. Some of the most common menopause symptoms include:
- Irregular periods: As perimenopause begins;, periods can come and go, plus get heavier or lighter at times. This can sometimes continue for several years during menopause
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety or depressive symptoms
- Vaginal dryness and decreased sex drive
- Increased abdominal fat and weight gain
- Insomnia and changes in sleep quality
- Thinning hair and dryer skin
- Going to the bathroom more often
- Breast changes
- Changes in the uterus, ovaries and cervix
- For some, a higher risk for certain other age-related diseases
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How To Stop Menopausal Fatigue
Menopausal fatigue can be caused by a range of factors – hormonal imbalance, unhealthy diet, and the sedentary lifestyles that become more common in women as they get older, to name a few. The following tips focus on correcting these contributors, and many women find that these self-help tips are normally sufficient to completely rid themselves of menopausal fatigue.
Natural Remedies For Menopause Relief
Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period. You can start to transition into menopause as early as your mid-30s, with most women entering menopause in their 40s or 50s . For some, menopause comes earlier due to health conditions, including a history of;eating disorders, cancer treatment or surgical removal of the ovaries.
Menopause is a completely natural biological process, and therefore not a problem to solve. And although it concludes the time in a womans life for fertility, you can stay healthy, vital and sexual through your 50s and well beyond. That being said, there is generally a hormonal shift that occurs in women during menopause that may lead to mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia and other common symptoms.
What types of things can you do to help get find relief from menopause symptoms?;First and foremost, its important to realize that in most women, symptoms such as night sweats will decrease;over time and then often go away completely without any treatment, including hormone replacement drugs. As the;Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care puts it, Menopause is not an illness. It is normal for hormone;levels to fall in middle age. These hormones do not need to be replaced.
Why Is Fatigue Such An Issue During Menopause
Fatigue can be a major issue for women during the menopause years. There are several reasons why this may be the case. Firstly, as our hormones fluctuate, tiredness can often be a by-product.
Sleep is impacted as our hormones change; if youve ever been pregnant, you may remember that sleep was possibly pretty difficult then. During menopause, sleep can be disturbed by insomnia, night sweats, needing to pee more often ;and symptoms like restless legs, for example.;
Midlife, when menopause usually happens to women, is also an incredibly busy and potentially stressful time of life. Its a time when we may be juggling so many different things in our lives that its really no wonder we can become exhausted.
Years of putting ourselves last in the priority queue can finally catch up with us. Stress is a major indicator for fatigue at any time and especially during menopause.
But fatigue may also be a sign of more serious issues. So if lack of energy is really impacting you, be sure to get yourself checked out with a doctor.
Theres a possibility your thyroid, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep apnoea or other chronic health conditions could be the cause. If youre having very heavy periods during menopause, you may also become anaemic so thats another thing to consider. In doubt, consult a doctor.
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Menopause Reversal Restores Periods And Produces Fertile Eggs
Women who have already passed through the menopause may be able to have children following a blood treatment usually used to heal wounds
Never too old?
MENOPAUSE need not be the end of fertility. A team claims to have found a way to rejuvenate post-menopausal ovaries, enabling them to release fertile eggs, New Scientist can reveal.
The team says its technique has restarted periods in menopausal women, including one who had not menstruated in five years. If the results hold up to wider scrutiny, the technique may boost declining fertility in older women, allow women with early menopause to get pregnant, and help stave off the detrimental health effects of menopause.
It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material, says Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, a gynaecologist at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens.
It is potentially quite exciting, says Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK. But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.
The age of motherhood is creeping up, and more women are having children in their 40s than ever before. But as more women delay pregnancy, many find themselves struggling to get pregnant. Women who hope to conceive later in life are increasingly turning to IVF and egg freezing, but neither are a reliable back-up option .