It May Shrink In Size
Speaking of sex, a lack of it can change the shape of your vagina. The vagina is comprised of muscle tissue, and like any other muscle, if its not used frequently it can shrink and lose tone, says Dr. May. The best way to keep this from happening is to continue having sex or masturbating during menopause. If its painful, try using a vaginal moisturizer or water-based lubricant, and if that doesnt help, talk to your doctor.
What Is The Menopause
Simply, the menopause is when the ovaries no longer respond to the hormonal messages sent from the pituitary gland in the brain. Eventually, this leads to the end of ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
During the build-up to the menopause, known as perimenopause, women’s hormones go through a transformation process. Their levels fluctuate and can alter their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
‘Im feeling hormonal’ can sometimes be bandied about to describe how women feel at a given moment in time, but that feeling can soon become a reality for many women entering the menopausal transition.
How Do You Lose Weight During Menopause
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to improve symptoms of menopause. Try low-impact exercises that don’t hurt your joints, eat lean protein, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. Although it’s tempting, restricting your caloric intake too severely can lead to muscle loss and a decrease in metabolic rate.;
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Cardiovascular Issues And Menopause
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in men and postmenopausal women. Menopause increases the risk for women still further, independent of age. Before menopause, the risk of CAD for women lags behind the risk for men by approximately 10 years; after menopause, it catches up. As a result, mortality from CAD is increasing in women. The Framingham study was pivotal in showing the relation between menopause and increased cardiovascular mortality.
The Womens Health Initiative was a randomized, controlled trial that addressed the issue of whether postmenopausal women should take hormone therapy or estrogen therapy for prevention of CAD ; more than 27,000 healthy women participated in the trial. The investigators concluded that hormone therapy and estrogen therapy are not indicated for the prevention of CAD.
Emerging analyses of WHI data from the Estrogen-Alone Triala double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial evaluating the effects of conjugated equine estrogens on chronic disease incidence among postmenopausal women with prior hysterectomy and after a mean of 7.1 years of follow-upsuggested that treatment effects differ by age. Compared with older women, younger women receiving CEE had a lower risk of CAD.
Memory And Concentration Problems
During perimenopause, women often complain of short-term memory problems and difficulty with concentration. Study results looking at the relationship between falling hormone levels and cognitive function have been inconsistent. Some women do believe that low dose estrogen after menopause helps them think. But the research has not supported this. Stress likely plays a more important role in memory and thinking compared to hormonal fluctuations.
Treating memory and concentration problems. Just as it isn’t clear what causes memory and concentration problems, there is no obvious remedy. Staying physically active and scheduling at least 150 minutes per week of dedicated exercise may be the best way to maintain brain health. Brain and memory experts also recommend that people work to keep their brain functioning at its peak by taking on new and interesting challenges. Use your mind in many different ways. Do crossword puzzles. Learn a new musical instrument or sport. Play chess. Read more books. Learn a new language or how to use the computer. The idea is to challenge your brain in new ways.
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Will I Experience The Same Symptoms As My Mother Sister Or Friends
The symptoms of menopause vary from one woman to another, even in the same families. The age and rate of decline of ovary function differ tremendously. This means youll need to manage your menopause individually. What worked for your mother or best friend may not work for you.
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about menopause. They can help you understand your symptoms and find ways to manage them that work with your lifestyle.
How Does Menopause Affect My Bladder Control
Unfortunately, bladder control issues are common for women going through menopause. There are several reasons why this happens, including:
- Estrogen. This hormone plays several roles in your body. It not only controls your period and promotes changes in your body during pregnancy, estrogen also keeps the lining of your bladder and urethra healthy.
- Pelvic floor muscles. Supporting the organs in your pelvis your bladder and uterus are called the pelvic floor muscles. Throughout your life, these muscles can weaken. This can happen during pregnancy, childbirth and from weight gain. When the muscles weaken, you can experience urinary incontinence .
Specific bladder control problems that you might have can include:
- Stress incontinence .
- Urge incontinence .
- Painful urination .
- Nocturia .
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Will I Start Menopause If I Have A Hysterectomy
During a hysterectomy, your uterus is removed. You wont have a period after this procedure. However, if you kept your ovaries removal of your ovaries is called an oophorectomy you may not have symptoms of menopause right away. If your ovaries are also removed, you will have symptoms of menopause immediately.
A Decrease In Bone Density
Along with a decline in skeletal muscle, menopause speeds up bone loss. In fact, bone loss begins accelerating during perimenopause when hormones fluctuate, sometimes wildly. It continues at a rapid pace in the years after menopause. Why is bone loss such concern? Fragile bones are more susceptible to breakage, but osteoporosis is a silent disease. You might not realize you have it until you fracture a bone.
Osteoporosis can also cause compression fractures that can reduce your height by several inches. Monitor your height at home. The loss of two or more inches in height is a predictor of osteoporosis. Monitor your height every 6 months and let your healthcare provider know if you experience a change.
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Physical Signs Of Menopause
Here are the primary physical symptoms that accompany menopause:6
- Hot flashes: This is one of the earliest and most common signs of menopause. Around 60-80% of individuals will experience hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.
- Vaginal dryness: Changing hormone levels might impact the tissues, glands and functions of the vagina and urinary tract, potentially reducing vaginal lubrication.
- Sleep disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep and waking up in the middle of the night might happen during menopause, especially if youre waking up due to hot flashes.
- Weight gain: On average, women gain 4.5 lb during menopause which is commonly attributed to declining estrogen levels, age-related loss of muscle tissue, and lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise.
- Joint pain: Both menopause and aging can cause joint pain or aching in the knees, shoulders, neck, elbows or hands.
Can You Do Something With Your Health To Prevent The Menopause Symptoms
What happens during menopause that stays during menopause and further on. Still, there is one but only. It does not mean you cannot relieve some changes and prevent the more serious impact of menopause. Here are some tips:
- Speak to the doctor about undergoing Hormone-Replacement Therapy. It will allow you to replace some hormones and at least boost your mood, accelerate fat-burning processes as well as provide your skin with collagen.
- Move. Do not follow a sedentary lifestyle, as your bone mass will lose its power and you will quickly develop osteoporosis. If qualified, you may take some supplements rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that will support your body in full.
- Use creams. You may find many beauty products rich in collagen, or other agents designated for menopausal care. Try to apply them as much as possible, especially on the neck, arms. If you have varicosity, buy the creams for this medical condition. Many menopausal women may remain fit in their legs however it does not mean they wont see the venous network.
Finally, do not forget about eating properly. Cut down the number of sweets that will only contribute to menopause belly, refill yourself with greens and fruits aimed to provide you with calcium and vitamins B, D, C, and drink a lot of water that will help to avoid dehydration and then headaches.
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What Helps With Menopausal Arthritis
Hormonal imbalances make it more likely for menopausal women to develop osteoarthritis. You can perform low-impact exercises , maintain a healthy weight, and eat vitamin D and calcium-rich foods to improve your symptoms. Your doctor could prescribe NSAID medications or refer you to a physical therapy specialist, too.
Mood Swings In Menopause
Many women experience changes in mood and irritability when they transition into menopause. ;These mood changes are caused by decreasing hormone levels and may be worse in women who experience anxiety about this process.
Doctors recommend basic stress-relieving exercises to calm the mind and body such as meditation, massage, deep breathing, and yoga. Spend more time outside in the daylight to boost your mood and relax! Also, indulging in your favorite activity or pampering yourself can make you feel better as you go through; menopause.
If your mood continues to be negative and you experience depression, speak to your healthcare provider about seeing a therapist or receiving antidepressants.
Still having trouble with your menopause symptoms or have questions about how to manage the transition? Make an appointment to talk to your doctor about it.
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Stay Connected To Others
With all the changes during menopause, its normal to feel overwhelmed. Connecting to others who can relate and sharing feelings can be an empowering transformative experience.
Talking to friends who have experienced menopause or joining a menopause support group online or in-person can help you to feel less alone throughout the physical and mental changes.
Research to see what local menopausal support groups may be in your area. You can also sign up for something like Menopause Chit Chat, which is an online forum to discuss various topics pertaining to menopause.
The Physiological And Metabolic Changes Of Menopause
What exactly is happening during menopause? A lot! The transition to menopause, known as perimenopause, takes place over a period of several years. As the ovaries gradually reduce estrogen production, there are many hormonal fluctuations as the body adjusts to the inevitable shut-down of the ovaries.
A woman is officially in menopause when she has not gotten her period for 12-months straight. At this point, the ovaries have significantly reduced production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, ending a womans child-bearing years.
There are significant physiological and metabolic changes occurring at this time that directly affect your body composition. ;So, if you feel like the struggle to lose weight or change your body is more difficult than it was 10 or 15 years ago, its not your imagination.
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Are There Any Risks Related To Hormone Therapy
Like most prescribed medications, there are risks for hormone therapy. Some known health risks include:
- Endometrial cancer .
- Gallstones and gallbladder issues.
Going on hormone therapy is an individualized decision. Discuss all past medical conditions and your family history with your healthcare provider to understand the risks versus benefits of hormone therapy for you.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause
Women may have different signs or symptoms at menopause. Thats because estrogen is used by many parts of your body. As you have less estrogen, you could have various symptoms. Many women experience very mild symptoms that are easily treated by lifestyle changes, like avoiding caffeine or carrying a portable fan to use when a hot flash strikes. Some women dont require any treatment at all. Other symptoms can be more problematic.
Here are the most common changes you might notice at midlife. Some may be part of aging rather than directly related to menopause.
Change in your period. This might be what you notice first. Your periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. You might bleed more or less than usual. These are all normal changes, but to make sure there isnt a problem, see your doctor if:
- Your periods come very close together
- You have heavy bleeding
- Your periods last more than a week
- Your periods resume after no bleeding for more than a year
Vaginal health and bladder control. Your vagina may get drier. This could make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Or, you could have other health problems, such as vaginal or bladder infections. Some women also find it hard to hold their urine long enough to get to the bathroom. This loss of bladder control is called incontinence. You may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing.
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Treatment Options For Symptoms Of Menopause
Fortunately, you dont have to live with frequent hot flashes, wild mood swings, or episodes of major depression. There are many treatment options to help manage your menopausal symptoms. For example, our specialists may recommend hormone replacement therapy or bioidentical hormone therapy to replace the estrogen youve lost. HRT can come in pills, creams, patches, injections, or pellets.;
If youre going through menopause or perimenopause and experiencing mood swings or other mental health issues, contact The Association for Womens Health Care with offices in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois for help, either by calling or booking an appointment online.
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Can Menopause Be Treated
Menopause is a natural process that your body goes through. In some cases, you may not need any treatment for menopause. When treatment for menopause is discussed, its about treating the symptoms of menopause that disrupt your life. There are many different types of treatments for the symptoms of menopause. The main types of treatment for menopause are:
It is important to talk to your healthcare provider while you are going through menopause to craft a treatment plan that works for you. Every person is different and has unique needs.
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Is Heart Disease Linked To Menopause
Conditions related to your heart may arise during menopause, such as dizziness or cardiac palpitations. Decreased estrogen levels can prevent your body from retaining flexible arteries. This can impact blood flow.
Watching your weight, eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising, and not smoking can reduce your chances of developing heart conditions.
What Happens After Menopause
As you wind down from the menopause, your body continues to go through a lot of changes. While your hormone levels adjust to a new normal, you can face changes to different parts of your body, and your health.
Common post menopause symptoms:
1. Your hot flushes will stop – eventually
As your hormones settle down, so will perimenopausal symptoms like hot flushes. Hurrah! However, they may continue for up to 8 years – and things might get worse before they get better. “Leading up to menopause, your oestrogen levels fluctuate. When they’re high, you don’t have symptoms,” gynaecologist Dr. Kevin Audlin explains. “But when you go into menopause and there’s a complete lack of oestrogen, you start to notice those symptoms more.”
2. Your breasts may look different
Postmenopausal breasts may shrink, change shape, lose firmness and become more prone to lumps. This is because weight can fluctuate during the menopause, meaning your breasts lose their elasticity. Time to go for that bra fitting.
3. Your weight distribution will change
Fat is less likely to settle on the hips and thighs post menopause – but more likely to settle on the waistline. It’s thought that the body attempts to hoard’ oestrogen in fat cells around the belly area, but experts warn that this kind of fat has been associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even some cancers. Discover our tips to help you deal with menopause weight gain here, if you are concerned.
4. Sex may become more painful
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Breast Cancer And Menopause
Estrogen therapy is known to benefit postmenopausal women in a multitude of ways, mostly through the relief of vasomotor symptoms associated with postmenopause. Estrogen is also beneficial for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Much controversy exists about the use of estrogen and breast cancer. Some studies show an increased risk of breast cancer with postmenopausal estrogen use; others show a decrease. A possible link to cancer is also suggested by the finding that breast cancer risk is increased in women with an earlier age at menarche and a later age at menopause. However, a reduction in risk is observed with early age at pregnancy and the interruption of menstrual hormonal changes. The role of estrogen in the development of breast cancer continues to be studied.
In the Womens Health Initiative , the incidence of breast cancer increased in the estrogen-plus-progestin versus placebo arm of the study ; however, the incidence of breast cancer decreased in the estrogen-only versus placebo arm of the study .
Additional follow-up in patients from the WHI suggested similar results: Breast cancer incidence and mortality were increased in the estrogen-plus-progestin group as compared with the placebo group. The role of combined estrogen-plus-progesterone therapy continues to be puzzling in the development of breast cancer.;
What Can Be Done
A healthy lifestyle can minimize the effects of the menopause, helping to keep the heart and bones strong. Many women feel that this is a good time to review the way they treat their body. Here are some tips to consider:
Complementary & alternative therapies
These have become a popular choice and many women use them, although limited scientific research has been done to support their effect or indeed their safety. They may sometimes help with troublesome symptoms, but they are unlikely to have a significant impact on bone strength, the heart or blood vessels.
Choosing a complementary or alternative therapy can be a challenge; so many different ones exist. Acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal treatments, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, yoga and reflexology have all been reported as being helpful in the menopause.
To find out more about available therapies, please consult the WHC fact sheet Complementary/alternative therapies for menopausal women.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is the most effective and widely used treatment for menopausal symptoms. As its name suggests, it is simply a way of replacing the hormone oestrogen that is lost during the menopause.
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