Menopause is the moment in time in every woman’s life when her menstrual periods stop and she is no longer fertile. Technically, a woman officially reaches menopause when she has not had a period for 12 consecutive months.
All the physical and emotional changes a woman experiences leading up to menopause are part of a transition period called perimenopause, which typically begins when a woman is in her late 40s or early 50s. Knowing what to expect and how to get relief can help make the transition smoother and simpler.
Hot flashes, also called vasomotor symptoms, are one of the most common complaints of menopause. During a hot flash you may feel a sudden burst of heat with sweating, usually beginning in the face or chest. This may occur due to declining estrogen levels triggering changes in the body temperature control center in the brain. As many as 80% of women will have hot flashes during perimenopause. Hot flashes typically last between 1 to 5 minutes and may be accompanied by feelings of anxiety or heart palpitations. Some foods and drinks, such as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar could bring on hot flashes. Avoiding these foods can help lessen the number and severity of hot flashes. Identifying the things or activities that could trigger hot flashes in addition to wearing layers and dressing in light clothes could help you be prepared and reduce stress.
The physical changes taking place in your body during menopause can affect how you feel about sex and intimacy. It is not uncommon for women to experience pain and discomfort during sex as the vaginal walls start to thin and lose elasticity. About 40% of women experience some symptoms of vaginal atrophy, such as vaginal dryness, due to lower levels of estrogen in the body. It is important to know your options. Hormone therapy is not the only relief available to women. Ask your healthcare provider about the new MonaLisa Touch, a minimally invasive laser treatment that works exceptionally well to restore vaginal health by countering vaginal dryness and other uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause. This simple in-office procedure, which lasts about 3 to 5 minutes, stimulates collagen production and in turn, improves the blood supply and moisture levels to the vaginal tissues. Staying sexually active actually helps maintain vaginal health and improves your quality of life.
Hormone fluctuations during perimenopause can cause you to feel like you are out of control at times. Women often report experiencing symptoms, including increased irritability, tearfulness, anxiety, fatigue, depression, lack of motivation and decreased energy. Your healthcare provider can help you decide on the most appropriate treatments for your mood changes and assess for severe depression. Often women find relief with relaxation and stress-reducing techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises and massage. An active lifestyle combined with good nutrition, including supplements such as vitamin B6, may also be helpful.
Women going through menopause often feel as if they have no energy and feel constantly fatigued, both mentally and physically. The symptoms of menopausal fatigue can include excessive drowsiness, lowered attention span, irritability and memory lapses. Other perimenopausal symptoms, such as insomnia and night sweats can also contribute to the feeling of fatigue. Fatigue can exacerbate other symptoms related to menopause, such as anxiety, decreased concentration, and a lack of self confidence. Trying to go about your daily routine can often feel strenuous and exhausting when you are suffering from fatigue. There are some steps you can take to help you find relief, such as staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening, getting fresh air and exercising daily, and keeping your bedroom cool to prevent night sweats from waking you up.
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