If you are a woman aged 45 to 55 its highly likely you will be experiencing signs of menopause. For some women this can last for several years. Its no surprise then that the word “menopause” strikes dread into the hearts of women.
The bad news is that every woman will go through it; the good news is, you will get over it.
Other good news for women with signs of menopause is that we live in an enlightened age. Medical science now recognizes that menopause is a real condition with real symptoms. This has been a great help in finding new drugs and treatments to ease the discomfort that many women endure.
Signs of Menopause
Menopause is natures way of shutting down the female reproduction system. Its a natural process but it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Signs of menopause are often referred to as “change of life” or the “change”.
Part of the change or transition is the gradual reduction of hormones produced by the ovaries and that oestrogen levels begin to drop. This happens over a period of time but the length of time varies from woman to woman.
Up to and during menopause, menstrual periods become very erratic; it is generally considered that once 12 months have gone by with no sign of menstrual flow, that a woman is infertile.
Some common signs of menopause are hot flashes, heavy blood loss, palpations, and depression. These are not the only pointers by any means but because they are common, most women are familiar with them.
cause the body temperature to rise, resulting in heavy sweating and a feeling of weakness and light-headedness. They dont usually last long but they are uncomfortable and draining.
can also come on quite suddenly and can be a little frightening; this adds to the stress and makes things worse.
isnt always deep but frequent crying bouts and a general feeling of weepy malaise is very common with signs of menopause. The feeling can come on quite suddenly and for no reason, this can also be upsetting for loved ones who sometimes find the situation difficult to deal with.
Many women experience heavy periods during signs of menopause, these can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Modern pads and liners are wonderful and thank heavens for large bags and totes; one can carry a whole pharmacy without being obvious.
During very heavy periods some women can experience anemia, its essential to make sure there is plenty of iron in your diet. Some iron supplements can cause constipation, I used a liquid herbal iron tonic which sourced the iron from beetroot and that took care of the problem.
This simple exercise is not so much for toning or losing flab, but can be used to help relieve tummy pain and period pains.
- Lie flat on your bed or sit upright in a comfortable chair and place your right hand over your navel.
- Rub in a circular motion, clockwise in widening circles, until you reach your rib cage.
- Pause then rub anti clockwise in decreasing circles back to the navel.
If you do these exercises for two or three minutes in the morning and again in the evening, it can also help to stimulate bowel movement.
Although these symptoms are normal, it goes without saying that if you are experiencing severe symptoms you should see a doctor and get a check up.
Treatments are many and varied; everyone is different, what works for one wont always work for everyone. In recent years there has been a big move towards natural health therapy; herbs and plant extracts have become very popular.
is often prescribed for women in order to treat the Symptoms of menopause such as;
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary stress
- Chilly sensations
Some foods that contain natural sources of Estrogen are:
- Bakers Yeast
- Chick Peas
- Olive Oil
- Pulses such as Split Peas
- Soy Beans
- Whole Grains such as Barley and Oats.
Dont be tempted to overdose on one type of food; try to vary your diet so that its well balance.
which some women find very helpful are substances that occur naturally in certain plants. The two main types, isoflavones and lignans can be found in seeds, legumes, whole grains and some fruit and vegetables.
Phyoestrogen supplements such as Promensil, which are available over the counter, contain isoflavones which are extracted from red clover. Other natural products include primrose oil, dong quai, ginseng and wild yam.
Be aware that some herbs and plants can interfere with any medication you may be taking. If you are looking for relief from signs of menopause, do some research into drugs and treatments available?
A few years ago women were scared off hormone replacement therapy because of negative press. Opinion is still divided on the safety issues regarding the treatment but women still continue to use it and fears about it seem to have faded with time.
Women who elect to use HRT are usually prescribed a low dosage over a short period. Doctors look at medical history before prescribing HRT, women who have a uterus which is still intact may need a different type of HRT than women who have had a hysterectomy. In my case it wasnt an option because Id had breast cancer.
I’ve heard positive and negative reports about HRT but I remember one woman in particular who felt that HRT had literally saved her life and her sanity, she was convinced the benefits far outweighed the risk.
As well as tablet form HRT is available in skin patches, gels, skin sprays and implants.
Many women are still working during menopause; the need to be able to work is often paramount, so finding a treatment that will help to ease discomfort is very important.
Conventional medicine is still undecided whether alternative remedies actually work. Acupuncture and acupressure have shown some good results but as yet there is no medical proof. Remedies such as red clover and black cohosh are commonly used for hot flashes; however concerns have risen about the association of black cohosh and liver toxicity. Its worth mentioning here that its dangerous to assume that natural medicine such as herbs and extracts are safe. Many are harmless but never take anything new if you are unsure of safety issues.
Some women experiencing signs of menopause may notice vaginal dryness, this is because Estrogen levels are low. Sexual intercourse may be painful, and there are gels and creams available to help combat this. Water based gel is ideal to use during sex and oestrogen cream can be used to alleviate problems associated with dryness. The chance of becoming pregnant during menopause is low but it can happen, practice contraception until you are sure menopause has finished.
During signs of menopause its essential to have a balanced diet, whatever treatment you decide to use will be affected by your lifestyle and diet. Smoking, alcohol and stress will all have a negative effect during menopause.
Here are some helpful tips that might be useful if you are experiencing signs of menopause.
- Meditation and yoga can be helpful especially if you have a very busy schedule, just a few minutes a day can make a difference to relieve stress.
- Dress for comfort, layering is helpful when dealing with hot flashes, discarding clothing enables you to cool down quickly.
- If possible keep a spray bottle of cool water handy to spritz your face.
- Carry clean underwear whenever possible, knowing you are organized will help to keep the pressure off when dealing with signs of menopause.
- Try to avoid food or drink that might trigger hot flashes. I cut down on coffee because five minutes after drinking it the sweat would pour off me.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- If you sweat or bleed a lot during the night, place a plastic protector under the sheet, it will save a lot of work.
- Keep a packet of moist wipes handy to wipe your face after a hot flash.
While you are enduring signs of menopause your hormones are all over the place and you wonder if life will ever return to normal but your body will bounce back, energy levels will return and you will be able to move on. The signs of menopause wont last for ever, hopefully using some of these strategies will help to minimize any discomfort you may be experiencing.