Just like puberty, menopause is a normal part of life. It signals the end of your menstrual period. After a full year without a period, you have made it through menopause and can now say you are post-menopausal. The average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51, though some women experience their last period in their early forties or into their late fifties.
Once your periods are officially over, you may not quite know what to expect. Will the mood swings, hot flashes and other symptoms end? Not necessarily. These symptoms can occur for some time before and after menopause. Learning how to cope with your symptoms now can bring you months of comfort as you transition to the next phase of your life:
Hot flashes. To ease hot flashes, it may help to take up an exercise regimen. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day, three times a week. In addition, try to avoid triggers that can make you hotter such as hot beverages, spicy foods and alcohol. Dressing in layers is also a good idea, as is keeping a bottle of water handy. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also help relieve hot flashes and night sweats. HRT is a schedule of medications that replace the missing hormones in the body with estrogen and progestin (a synthetic version of progesterone.) There are some risks associated with taking HRT, so talk to you doctor to see if it’s right for you.
Vaginal dryness. Estrogen levels drop during menopause, reducing the amount of moisture available. Vaginal estrogen cream or sustained-release vaginal estrogen rings can be very effective in treating dryness, as they both deliver low doses of estrogen to the inside of the vagina. Take note, however, that topical estrogen cream may not be recommended for women who have breast cancer, women with a history of endometrial cancer, or women who have undiagnosed vaginal bleeding.
Lowered libido. Menopause prompts women’s bodies to stop producing testosterone, the hormone that triggers sexual desire. Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers such as Replens or Lubrin are a good way to help increase libido. These can be found at your local drug store or supermarket.
Urinary incontinence. A common symptom of menopause, urinary incontinence occurs when bladder muscles become weak. To strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, do Kegel exercises, which can greatly improve bladder control.
Mood swings. To offset the irritability, depression, and general moodiness that accompanies menopause, try regular exercise, meditation or yoga, decreasing alcohol and caffeine intake, and taking in more fruits and vegetables.
Insomnia. Overall fatigue is inherent during menopause. Couple that with hot flashes and other symptoms and your sleep routine can be thrown off completely. To help get a better night’s sleep, exercise regularly, avoid taking naps and drink non-caffeinated tea (such as chamomile) before bedtime.
Understanding what to expect during and after menopause is the first step to keeping you happy and healthy in your later years. If you have questions about living with menopause and post-menopause, or if you want to learn more about the range of services provided by Women’s Care of Beverly Hills Group, contact us directly at 310-657-1600. We look forward to hearing from you soon.