Everything You Need to Know When You’re Going Through Menopause
Going through menopause is something that every woman will experience at some point in her lifetime. Most women know it means losing your period and no longer being able to get pregnant, but it is more complex than that.
Here’s what you need to know about going through menopause, starting with the difference between menopause and perimenopause.
Menopause Versus Perimenopause
There are actually multiple phases of menopause, starting with perimenopause.
Perimenopause takes place pre-menopause. During this time period, your body begins the transition to menopause, which means hormone production from your ovaries starts to decline. You will continue to experience periods, but they will no longer occur on a monthly basis.
Menopause occurs once you have gone a full 12 months without a period. On average, women enter menopause between the ages of 45 to 55, with some women experiencing menopause earlier, and others continuing to experience infrequent periods into their late 50s. When you experience menopause is heavily influenced by genetic factors, but things like chemotherapy and smoking can cause menopause to occur sooner.
Symptoms of Menopause
It’s common to experience menopausal symptoms during perimenopause, but symptoms are experienced more frequently and with greater intensity during menopause.
Hot flashes are the most commonly reported symptom of menopause. They can occur during the day or during the night, making you feel like your body temperature is rising. They can be accompanied by sweating, heart palpitations, dizziness, and blotchy skin.
Other symptoms you might experience during menopause include:
Joint pain (arthralgia)
There are things you can do to avoid triggering a hot flash like:
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Don't eat spicy food
Reduce feelings of stress
Avoid hot places
Dressing in layers and using a hand fan can help you manage hot flashes when they do come up.
If you're really struggling with menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider hormone replacement therapy. Other prescriptions, like birth control pills, can help regulate your hormones too. If you're searching for medication-free options, consider herbal therapies or try acupuncture.
Being overweight can contribute to hot flashes, so getting plenty of exercise and focusing on eating a healthy diet can be helpful. Lubricants and estrogen creams can help with vaginal dryness, while doing Kegel exercises can strengthen bladder muscles.
After menopause has occurred, you enter postmenopause, which lasts for the rest of your life.
You may continue to experience menopausal symptoms years after experiencing menopause. The good news is, many women notice that symptoms fade away over time.
Although your body eventually adjusts to lower levels of estrogen, it also means you may be more susceptible to other problems, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Taking a calcium supplement can decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis, while avoiding tobacco can help prevent heart disease.
Want to make sure the symptoms you’re experiencing are due to menopause and not something else? Visit with a licensed medical professional online. You can also talk to a medical professional about the possibility of taking birth control or other medications to help manage your symptoms.