Menopause Symptoms

Menopause marks a major milestone in a woman’s life and is a time of great physical, hormonal and psychological changes. During perimenopause, which is the transition phase leading up to menopause, a woman’s ovaries gradually stop producing estrogen and progesterone. It is these hormonal changes that cause menopausal symptoms. Perimenopause can last anywhere from 1 to 10 years — and while most of the symptoms that women experience occur during this transition phase, some symptoms continue into menopause and postmenopause.

There is nothing you can do to stop or delay menopause from happening. However, you can take steps to decrease the prevalence and severity of symptoms.  All women experience menopause differently. Some women report having a lot of difficulties, while others hardly notice any symptoms at all. Symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman and can include hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, vaginal dryness, low libido, urinary incontinence, mood swings, irritability, depression, and anxiety.

It is essential that women educate themselves about menopause and the steps they can take to have a more positive experience during this natural aging process. Getting rid of negative beliefs about menopause, speaking to your health care provider and taking care of yourself can help reduce symptoms.Four Solutions for Menopause

Vaginal Dryness

Hormone fluctuations during menopause can cause a number of unwelcome changes to take place in a woman’s body. The drop in the production of estrogen affects the vaginal tissue, causing it to lose its elasticity and its ability to lubricate itself. Almost 1 out of every 3 women experience vaginal dryness and sensitivity. Besides making sex uncomfortable, vaginal atrophy can also make you more susceptible to urinary tract infections. In addition, the loss of muscle tone in the vagina contributes to urinary incontinence, especially when coughing or sneezing. Symptoms of vaginal atrophy, such as a decrease in vaginal moisture, can have a major impact on your sex life. However, it is important to know that the more sex you are able to have, the better the blood flow to your vaginal tissue. Ask your gynecologist about the MonaLisa Touch, a painless and minimally invasive laser treatment for vaginal rejuvenation.  The MonaLisa Touch can provide significant improvements in the symptoms of vaginal atrophy, including laxity and dryness. The 3 to 5 minute treatment revitalizes the cells in the vaginal tissue, which stimulate the production of collagen, an essential ingredient in vaginal cell health.  Read More

Irregular Periods

As menopause approaches, a woman’s menstrual cycle will start to change. You may find that your menstrual periods are getting shorter or longer, heavier or lighter, or closer together. During perimenopause, the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body constantly go up and down, affecting your period differently each month. Most women will have irregular periods for 3 to 10 years before reaching menopause, which begins when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. Although irregular periods are normal during the transition to menopause, other conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis or cancer, could cause changes in your menstrual cycle. You should see your doctor if you experience abnormally heavy bleeding, your periods are very close together, or if your period lasts longer than a week. There are a number of options available to help regulate your periods, including taking oral contraceptives, or a hormone-releasing IUD. Some simple lifestyle changes can help you cope with irregular periods, such being active, limiting your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, getting adequate rest and avoiding stress.

Weight Gain

As women get older, they may notice that maintaining their weight becomes more difficult. There are many factors why women gain weight around menopause, including fluctuating hormones, aging, lifestyle and genetics. During perimenopause, which typically begins when a woman is in her late 40s to early 50s, estrogen levels can fluctuate greatly at any given time. Sometimes your body may produce very high amounts of estrogen and at other times very low amounts. These hormonal changes associated with perimenopause may contribute to excess weight gain, specifically around your abdomen. It is important to maintain a healthy weight as you age as being overweight can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. Overweight women are also more likely to experience more intense menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and heavier menstrual cycles. It is possible for women to maintain a healthy weight as they age by being physically active, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet. Cutting back on carbs has helps reduce belly fat, and eating a high-fiber diet helps control blood sugar levels.

Sleep Disturbances

Women going through menopause often experience sleep disturbances such as insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, and waking up frequently during the night.  Hormone fluctuations can change your body’s natural rhythms and sleep patterns. Hot flashes which occur after you have fallen asleep, called night sweats, are a major cause of sleep disturbances for many women. Night sweats can last for 3 minutes or more, leaving you soaking in sweat and no longer able to sleep. Simple measures, such as wearing light pajamas and a bedside fan, can help you stay cool during the night. Taking time to relax before bed, avoiding caffeine at least 4 hours before going to sleep, and exercising daily can help you get get the sleep you need. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate other menopausal symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety and irritability. If you continue to experience sleep disruptions talk to your healthcare provider about short-term sleep aids.