Whew! Menopause. It happens to every woman. For some, it is a dreaded event, symbolizing the end of the fertile years and life as a younger woman. For others, it is a time to celebrate – for the exact same reasons! We hear all kinds of stories about what menopause means and what to expect, but the truth about menopause is, like everything else in life, it effects different women in different ways. That being said, there are certain things that happen to every woman.
Here are examples of what you can really expect as you begin to go through menopause and beyond.
Hormones are changing.
Hormonal balances are fluctuating in our bodies from the time we are in utero. These fluctuations can increase at critical moments in our lives, such as puberty, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. They become more intense again as the body gears up, and moves through, menopause. The two hormones which are the most affected are:
And because so many other functions in a woman’s body, from collagen production, to menstruation, to metabolism, are linked to these hormones, there are usually some tangible side effects.
Some women have mood swings that are the equivalent of a roller coaster ride, others notice they are a bit weepier, or more snappy, than normal. The types of mood swings you experience are directly related to how smooth the hormone balancing transition is, paired with what is going on in your life at the time. Menopause symptoms can be heightened if the process is occurring at the same time as your last baby is fleeing the nest, your are going through a divorce, adjusting to retirement, or experiencing the health decline or death of parents or aging relatives. Keep the big picture in focus, and be gentle on yourself.
Ask the big questions
There is no denying that menopause means you are getting older. For some women, this is no big deal. However, most of us begin to ask – or deny! – the big questions:
· How do I feel about aging?
· What am I scared of in regards to aging?
· What does getting old really mean?
· How do I envision my life as a senior citizen?
· Am I prepared to make the choices ahead of me?
The more you can do to ask and answer these questions, the more settled you may begin to feel.
Again, some women sort of sail through perimenopause and menopause with only little hiccups here and there. Others will experience one or more of the following side effects:
· Hot flashes/night sweats
· Unusual weight gain
· Change in libido
· Discomfort having sex
· Forgetfulness or mental fogginess
· Difficulty remaining focused
If you experience any of the above symptoms, make an appointment to discuss them with your OB/GYN as soon as possible. There are plenty of options to help your body make the transition through menopause, many of which will restore your vitality, energy, and glow.
Focus on your well-being
If you have never really paid attention to your diet or exercise program, now is the time to get on board and make a commitment to yourself. A well-balanced diet, rich in healthy proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is a key to naturally balancing hormones, and can minimize the amount of hormone replacement therapy you require. Exercise keeps your bones and muscles strong, your mind sharp, and will help to keep off unwanted weight as the result of a slowed metabolism. Remaining active in your community and participating in your favorite activities will help you to keep a positive outlook and attitude.
Overlake OB/GYN provides superior healthcare to women in their menopause years and beyond. Contact us today to discuss your concerns.