Menopause: The Basics
As women, many of us didn’t get information about menopause from our mothers because they just didn’t want to talk about it. My own mother used to say “You’ll think you’re going crazy.” Rest assured ladies, menopause is not about “going crazy!” But by having some basic info on menopause for women, this “change of life” will make more sense when it’s your turn to go through it.
Menopause is the transition between two important phases of a woman’s life: from child-bearing to the ceasing of menstruation. Complex hormonal changes occur. Below is some basic information on menopause to help woman understand the many potentially-distressing symptoms of this change:
- Remember that menopausal symptoms are normal! The decrease of estrogen affects the heart, bones, blood vessels, breasts, uterus, vagina, skin and brain.
- Each woman is affected differently by hormonal changes. The average age differs widely, as well as differing symptoms and their intensity.
- The Biggie: Hot flashes. We’ve all heard about them, and people even joke about them, but they are no picnic. These brief feelings of intense heat, profuse sweating, and possible chills can last up to 10 minutes or more. The best way to deal with them is to prevent them, by avoiding spicy foods, heat, getting regular exercise and reducing stress.
- Night sweats. These disrupt sleep and cause irritability and stress the next day.
- Vaginal dryness. This causes discomfort or real pain during sex. The vagina is easily irritated and prone to infections. Lubricants and estrogen cream can greatly help this condition.
- Weight gain and bloating. Metabolism slows. Changes in diet and regular exercise helps.
- Irritability and mood swings. Be patient with yourself. Avoid stress in any way you can. Get more rest. Try to reduce your commitments.
- Difficulty concentrating and memory lapses. This is normal, but very upsetting.
- Depression and anxiety. Coping with these symptoms can add to anxiety. Sad feelings–over loss of the ability to bear children and getting older–are common complaints of menopausal women.
- Bone density loss and osteoporosis. Estrogen affects the absorption of calcium into the bones. Be sure to eat calcium-rich foods and take supplements. Get a bone density scan per your doctor’s recommendation.
This crucial time of change and transition in a woman’s life is the prime opportunity to learn how to better care for yourself and develop new habits and a healthier lifestyle. Upgrade your diet, get appointments for a cholesterol blood test, a bone density scan and a mammogram. Learn how to manage your stress, give yourself breaks, and enjoy your new “period-free” life. It’s not crazy when you see this new phase of your life as the prime opportunity to re-group and thrive on a new level. This menopause basic info for women can help alleviate the feeling of “going crazy” and reassure you that you are a normal woman going through a huge change. (I wish my mom could have known all this).
Written by: Ruby H. Moseley, FizzNiche Staff Writer