Menopause is a normal stage of life for women; yet, why do they fear it? Is it the symptoms a woman fears? Could it be the end of their fertility that sends them into distress? How about the anxiety of how to manage all of this change?
For each woman, their fear may be different. For this post, you will learn the symptoms of menopause and how to manage them.
Symptom #1: Hot Flashes
This is the most frequent symptom a women experiences. What causes a hot flash is unknown, but is speculated to be related to vascular instability, stress, spicy foods, caffeine, or alcohol. During a hot flash, a woman feels a sensation of intense heat which can lead to a sweating and a flushed face.
Hot flashes vary among women. Their frequency, duration, and severity are not the same from one woman to the next.
How Can I Manage Hot Flashes?
Most women are able to manage hot flashes through hormone replacement therapy. However, women who have had hormone positive breast cancer are recommended not to take hormone replacement therapy. Instead, they can take non-hormonal medications to help diminish the intensity and frequency.
Vitamins B6 and E have shown to be beneficial in helping with hot flashes. Seek the advice of your medical or naturopathic doctor to help determine the right path for you to manage your hot flashes.
Symptom #2: Osteoporosis
This is a decrease in bone mass which can lead to an increased risk of broken bones. Studies have shown that low levels of estrogen (which is associated with menopause) can cause a decrease in bone mass.
Can I Prevent Osteoporosis?
Absolutely! Although osteoporosis is often related to aging and a hereditary trait passed down to you, you are able to help prevent it by increasing your vitamin D intake and physical activity.
Limiting caffeine (especially carbonated beverages), alcohol, and tobacco – which all have been proven to reduce bone mass – can assist in keeping your bones healthy.
Symptom #3: Emotional Changes
Menopause can cause a wide range of changes, many being emotional: lack of motivation and energy; increased irritability, tension, anxiety, and mood changes; difficulty concentrating; depression; headaches; and insomnia. Many women have associated these emotional changes with menopause, but they are hard to prove. These changes can easily be contributed to other life causes.
How Can I Manage Emotional Changes?
There are many influences that factor into these changes. Managing them may be difficult if you do not know what causes them. Journaling, yoga, meditation, and counseling are all ways that can ease stress and help with many of the emotional changes listed above.
Symptom #4: Weight Gain
Augh! No one likes to step on the scale and see that they gained another five pounds. In animal studies, estrogen has shown to help control weight gain. With lower estrogen levels, animals tend to gain weight due to eating more and being less active. This can be true to women who have a reduced amount of estrogen after menopause.
I Don’t Want To Gain More Weight, What Can I Do?
Watching what you eat and being physically active are the best remedies for weight gain. Eating the right foods, building muscle and increasing your cardio activity by ten extra minutes can help control your metabolism and weight gain. Seek a nutritionist for advice on proper eating habits.
Symptom #5: Decrease In Sex Drive
The walls of the vagina normally stay lubricated with a clear fluid with help from estrogen. Menopause, and the lower estrogen, can cause vaginal dryness. This often contributes to pain during intercourse and/or a decrease in sex drive.
Is There Anything I Can Do?
Of course there is! Menopause should not affect your ability to enjoy sexual intercourse. Try water-soluble lubricants to lessen the discomfort during sex. If those do not work, your doctor can prescribe you a vaginal estrogen cream, tablet, or ring. While estrogen for hormone positive breast cancer is not recommended, these medicines are usually okay to use.
Menopause is a natural part of life. Some women may experience more severe symptoms than others will. Some women will be put into medical menopause, caused by medicine. Some may experience surgical menopause from surgery. Others may experience menopause at a gradual pace. While each woman is different, each symptom a different intensity, the treatments and management may be the same – or different.
Focus on your symptoms. Find your triggers. Determine what helps the best. Stick to those and you will be able to maintain your quality of life.
Angela Banker is a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister; she is also a young survivor, a caregiver, a supporter, and a fighter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and found herself empowered to share her story to raise awareness about breast cancer. Angela participates in Relay For Life, started the Sisters Beating Breast Cancer page to inspire others, and continues to "fight like a girl" with the hope that her daughter will never have to hear the dreaded words, "You have cancer."