Menopause is a natural decline in a woman’s reproductive hormones. There are three stages of menopause, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Perimenopause is the transition of a woman’s body to menopause. Less estrogen is produced, which can make cycles less predictable. A woman can still get pregnant, but fertility declines. Once a woman goes 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle, she is considered into menopause. Postmenopause is the period following menopause.
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Symptoms of Menopause
Perimenopause typically starts in a woman’s mid-40s, about 8 to 10 years before menopause. One of the early signs of menopause is irregular periods, but many women experience other symptoms during perimenopause and postmenopause:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- A need to urinate more frequently or urinary incontinence
- Sleep problems, insomnia
- Changes in mood
- Dry skin
- Weight changes
- Change in sex drive
Once a woman enters postmenopause, she’s in it for the rest of her life. While many symptoms do become less intense, many women still experience issues because of low levels of estrogen. Once a woman is in menopause, she no longer ovulates, but the symptoms of menopause can continue for the rest of your life.
Managing Postmenopause Symptoms
Your healthcare provider may recommend hormone therapy or other medications that can treat the symptoms of menopause. There are some health risks with long-term hormone therapy. You should discuss the benefits and disadvantages of medication with your healthcare provider.
Many women make lifestyle changes to avoid the dreaded hot flashes at night. Here are some things to try:
- Exercise regularly.
- Practice meditation to manage stress.
- Relax before sleep to improve sleep hygiene.
- Eat foods rich in calcium, vitamin D and phytoestrogens.
- Reduce the refined sugar, salt and processed foods in your diet.
- Use a vaginal lubricant during sex.
- Lose weight to reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
- Limit alcohol, caffeine and tobacco products.
- Use natural supplements to replace estrogen in your body.
How Do You Know if Your Symptoms Are Normal or Not?
Most women know when their periods change and recognize that they are getting older. Still, it can be a good idea to discuss your menopausal symptoms with your healthcare provider to make sure that nothing else is going on. When symptoms get in the way of normal life, you should definitely talk to your healthcare provider to find a solution. Talk to your healthcare provider about the medical care you need now that you aren’t menstruating any longer. You may still need to have regular Pap tests, mammograms and pelvic and breast exams. Even though you can’t get pregnant, cancer and other diseases are still possible. If you’re sexually active, you risk sexually transmitted infections when you don’t use protection.
Menopause is a natural part of life, but it can be uncomfortable as your body adapts to new hormonal levels. It’s normal to feel sad about getting older and moving into a new phase of life, but with the right support and care, you can still enjoy life and be healthy. Shop for menopause supplements to manage your menopause symptoms.