Menopause is a difficult transition for all women. Most people know menopause primarily as the point at which a woman can no longer become pregnant. This transition occurs because the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. The symptoms that women experience during menopause may seem to be unrelated to gynecological health or hormones. Thus, it can be difficult to pinpoint when menopause begins. Here are the 7 most common symptoms, and some ways to combat them.
Menopause vs. Perimenopause
One common misconception about menopause is that it starts the second that they begin to experience variation in their menstrual patterns.
As women enter their mid-40s, they will begin to notice menopausal symptoms. They may begin to notice that, rather than every month, they instead have periods once every 2-3 months. This transitionary period is called perimenopause. During perimenopause, women will experience the same symptoms as menopause, but with less frequency/regularity.
Even though women do become less fertile during perimenopause, it is still possible to become pregnant. So, women who have not confirmed menopause with their gynecologist should continue to take birth control.
Generally, women have exited perimenopause and entered menopause after 12 months.
7 Symptoms of Menopause
- Irregular periods- Irregular periods are a symptom for almost everyone undergoing menopause. The irregularity relates not only to the frequency, but also the symptoms of the period. Periods may happen at odd intervals, and be heavier or lighter than usual. Speak with your Long Island gynecologist if you begin to experience irregular periods to determine the reason, and if necessary, outline future plans.
- Hot flashes- Sudden sensations of heat rushing to the upper half of the body can be quite discomforting. Nonetheless, hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. During these hot flashes, the face and arms may become red. When this happens during the night, it may be accompanied with rapid sweating, aptly called night sweats.
- Sleeping difficulties- Generally speaking, the body discomfort brought on by menopause can occasionally make it difficult for women to fall asleep. This issue becomes amplified during night sweats, hot flashes that take place during the nighttime. Because of this discomfort, sleeping may not be as restful as it once was. A Long Island gynecologist can help you find a solution that limits this discomfort.
- Urinary Issues- As your body’s estrogen count decreases, the walls of the vagina become gradually more dry. This could make sex less comfortable, and possibly slightly painful. Additionally, estrogen is also responsible for protecting the urethra and bladder. Without proper urethral lining, some women may have incontinence issues, or difficulty holding their bladders. In other cases, women may be more prone to infections.
- Mood Swings- Menopause can cause (or amplify) unpredictable mood swings. It can also lead some women to be more emotional than usual. These mood swings might not be entirely due to menopause– often, the root of this stress is work- or family-related. Women who experienced PMS earlier in life are unfortunately more likely to have more severe mood swings.
- Sex Drive- Menopause often impacts the way that women view sex. In some cases, menopause leads women to stages of greater sexual confidence. In other cases, women are less interested in sex because of the discomfort. A Long Island gynecologist can assist you in navigating these feelings, and if you desire, finding a solution.
- Osteoporosis- During menopause, the lack of estrogen can affect the body in many different ways. One such way is a decrease in bone mass. As the bones in the human body grow thinner, they are more prone to breaking under odd or incidental circumstances. This loss of bone mass may cause some people to lose height, as well.
4 Ways to Lessen Menopausal Symptoms
- Maintain a Proper Diet- During menopause, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you maintain a proper diet. While you may not need the calories you did before, you still need to take in the appropriate nutrients. Additionally, women must incorporate an increased Vitamin D intake to protect the bones.
- Stay Fit- Studies show that, especially for women experiencing menopause, exercise can have myriad positive benefits. Not only will it have a positive impact on your general mood, it will also keep your bones in motion, and your heart healthy, too. Doctors recommend 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week, or 1 hour and 15 minutes of intense physical activity. For those with weight loss goals, more exercise is required.
- Stop Smoking- In addition to the myriad other negative effects of smoking, it can also cause a negative impact on the bones. During menopause, this causes a greater risk of osteoporosis.
- Ensure Proper Gynecological Health- Even though they are no longer menstruating, women in menopause must still monitor their gynecological health. Receiving pap tests is imperative for detecting cervical cancer. Routine mammograms and pelvic exams are also essential.
Check in with your Long Island Gynecologist
The symptoms of menopause vary greatly among women. A Long Island gynecologist like Stonybrook Women’s Health can assist you in determining when you have begun this process, and how to mitigate painful symptoms. Contact us for more information, or to learn more about menopause.