All women experience menopause . While it can be a change many women don’t look forward to, it’s a completely natural occurrence that signifies the end of childbearing years and the start of a new and exciting chapter of later adulthood. Some women glide through it fairly easily, while others encounter more extreme or uncomfortable symptoms.
Doctors officially diagnose menopause after a woman’s body goes 12 months without a period. This usually happens around 51 years old, but it’s different for everyone. Perimenopause is the time before menopause and begins when a woman notices significant changes in her menstrual cycle. It usually starts when women get into their 40s, on average around 47 years old, and typically lasts for 4 years.
What affects menopause age
There are a handful of contributions that determine when you actually reach menopause. Chemotherapy, for example, can be toxic to the ovaries and can bring on menopause a couple years early. Many women going through chemotherapy often experience temporary menopause that sometimes returns to normal.
Also, surgery on the ovaries can damage healthy tissue. There are several legitimate medical reasons for these operations, but if you have an opportunity to resolve the issue another way, such as medicine, that would be better for your ovaries.
Smoking does more damage to your ovaries than anything else. Women who smoke regularly will most likely experience early menopause due to the harmful toxins in cigarettes.
Your race and ethnicity can also determine menopause age . The average age for a white woman to go into menopause is 51.5 years old. Hispanic and African-American women reach menopause earlier on average, while Chinese and Japanese women tend to reach menopause later.
7 side effects of menopause
Women tend to experience a variety of symptoms at different levels when they reach menopause. Depending on the severity of symptoms, there are definitely ways to combat them if you experience more acute discomfort.
1. Hot flashes
Affecting roughly 75% of women in perimenopause , hot flashes are one of the most common side effects of this transitional time. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of feverish warmth thought to be caused by circulation changes. A hot flash can last from seconds to a few minutes, leaving women perspiring and feeling uncomfortably warm. Try a cool washcloth to alleviate the discomfort.
2. Night sweats
This side effect can be directly related to hot flashes. The main difference is that night sweats occur while you sleep, and they can wake up and startle women if you’re not prepared. Consider sleeping with light clothing, a fan on you, and a chill pillow to best deter night sweats.
3. Irregular periods
This occurs due to the hormonal fluctuations that make women ovulate less frequently. Sometimes, you will experience longer, heavier periods or lighter periods, but they will always be irregular when perimenopause is taking place. Consuming soy products may help regulate and balance out your hormone levels.
4. Vaginal dryness
Toward the end of perimenopause, the lack of estrogen hormones can cause vaginal tissues to become thinner and drier. The dryness can cause itching and irritation in the vaginal area, which lubrication gel can relieve in some cases. Vaginal moisturizers and vaginal estrogen products can also help ease dryness.
5. Mood changes
Mood changes happen in less than 20 percent of women , but it’s still possible with the naturally occuring shift in hormone levels during menopause. Mood changes during menopause are commonly caused by stress, poor health, and a history of depression.
6. Weight gain
Weight gain during menopause often occurs on women’s stomach and midsection areas, rather than a drastic weight increase of the entire body. This could simply be because of the loss of muscle everyone encounters as we get older. The shift of fat to the midsection is also typically the result of lower estrogen levels.
7. Difficulty sleeping
Many women experience problems with their sleep when going through menopause. Hormonal imbalances can mess with sleep quality, as well as a prevalence of night sweats. Sleep in comfortable and lightweight pajamas with a fan on to encourage better sleep.
Diet and weight
Eating nutritious, whole foods and exercising regularly is important to your wellbeing while experiencing menopause because weight gain can be a symptom. Try to maintain a healthy weight before menopause, and strive to consume natural and healthy meals during and after menopause.
In fact, the less weight you gain during menopause, the better your menopause symptoms will be. Drinking water will combat dry skin and other body parts that lack estrogen. Calcium supplements will also help alleviate some of the negative side effects. When there is a decrease of calcium in the body, bone loss may occur.
Vitamin D also helps combat bone loss. Many people do not get enough Vitamin D due to using sunscreen outside and a lack the vitamin in their diet.
You should also eat whole grains as much as possible. These are high in Vitamin B, which provides energy, stress management, and a well-functioning digestive system. The higher fiber content and folic acid help lower risk for cardiovascular disease, which increases after menopause.
With a loss of estrogen from menopause, women need to see their doctors for yearly check-ups to monitor cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and weight gain.
Managing side effects
There are many ways to manage the uncomfortable side effects of menopause . These include a balanced diet, routine exercise, yoga, meditation, taking supplements, and avoiding bad habits, like smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
Women over 50 need approximately 1200 grams of calcium per day through their diet and vitamin supplements . Getting calcium through your diet is always best, since your body absorbs it more easily.
For more information
Menopause side effects can be frustrating and tricky to navigate, but you’re not alone in your menopause experience. It affects every woman, and there are so many ways to make the transition as smooth and comfortable as possible. If you want to learn more about the natural process or how to manage it, contact The Woman’s Clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas today! We’d love to help you feel your best during this important time.