Menopause symptoms & how to handle them

Are you between 40 and 50 years old and suddenly suffering from sleep problems? Perhaps you feel more sensitive or less willing to have sex? These are menopause symptoms or peri-menopause symptoms, and maybe you are already close to one of these periods in life. If so, we invite you to read and learn about all the main menopause symptoms and how to handle them.

The importance of learning about menopause symptoms

Were you ever told that menopause could increase your risk for some health problems? Hence, the importance of educating yourself at an early age and knowing menopause symptoms and perimenopause symptoms in detail. Learning about them will allow you to recognise the beginning of these phases and take care of yourself to prevent complications. Also, evidence suggests that preparing before menopause and perimenopause helps you have a better quality of life during these periods. (PMC, 2016) Let`s take a look at the most common menopause symptoms:

Irregular Menstrual Cycles

During the perimenopause stage, an alteration of the menstrual cycle occurs. In general, you may not have the period, or they may happen closer together than you are used to. Also, the flow may be lighter or heavier than usual (Mayo Clinic, n.d). These irregularities are the first signs of the classic hormonal changes of this stage. The ovaries begin to produce fewer and fewer sex hormones (estrogens and progesterone), which causes alterations in the menstrual cycle (ACOG, n.d).

Hot Flushes

Hot Flushes are one of the most common menopause symptoms, and they can also occur during perimenopause. Hot flushes are a sensation of excessive heat, usually experienced in the chest and head, and it is commonly accompanied by redness and sweating. Some women report that it can also be accompanied by headaches, palpitations, upset stomach, nausea, or dizziness (Healthline, 2019). These symptoms originate because there is an increase in blood flow to the skin (Webmd, 2020).

Sleep Problems

Women who pass through this stage of life usually have some sleep problems, and they may have less sound sleep and may also continually wake up from hot flushes. (John Hopkins Medicine, n.d.). It is known that in this period, the concentration of serotonin decreases, which is a critical element to get a night of good sleep (Hormone Health Network, n.d.).

Menopause and Sexual Relations

Sexual desire of perimenopausal and menopausal women is altered due to mood and mental changes. As a result, another of the symptoms of menopause is a decrease in libido. Some women have trouble feeling aroused and experience a decreased desire to have sexual relations with their partner or even masturbate (Harvard Medical School, 2021).

Vaginal Dryness

Another menopause symptom starting during perimenopause is vaginal dryness, which can cause burning, itching, or discomfort in the area. It is also a frequent cause of pain during sexual intercourse (Women’s Health Concern, n.d.) All this happens due to the decrease in the production of estrogens in the body. This, in turn, causes a thinning of the vaginal walls, a decrease in blood supply to the area, and a reduction in the secretion of the genital glands. In addition, it is essential to highlight that the loss of collagen due to age also contributes to the thinning of the mucosa and vaginal dryness (Uptodate, 2020).

Urine Leaks and Other Urinary Problems

Women in menopause and perimenopause can have different urinary problems. Among the most common are urine leaks, incontinence or loss of urine, the urge to urinate, and urinary infections. This is due to changes in the mucosa of the urethra and vagina caused by the decrease in estrogens (Urogynecology University of Colorado, n.d.).

Mood Changes

Another problem during menopause and perimenopause is mood swings. The most common is sadness, but anxiety symptoms may also appear (The Center for the Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, n.d.) This occurs due to alterations in serotonin levels.

Other Symptoms

In addition to the already mentioned menopause symptoms, in menopause and perimenopause, women can experience (Everyday Health, 2021):
  • Night sweats.
  • Weight gain.
  • Abdominal distension.
  • Fatigue.
  • Stiffness in the joints.
  • Headaches or muscle aches.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Skin problems such as dry skin.
  • Dizziness.
  • Shortness of breath.
Menopause Symptoms and How to Handle Them

Relief of menopause symptoms

Believe it or not, a healthy lifestyle and a few home remedies might be enough to alleviate symptoms. In addition, they help prevent later health complications. Some ways to relieve menopause symptoms are (Cleveland Clinic, n.d.):
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables and small amounts of foods with saturated fat and added sugars.
  • Perform moderate-intensity physical exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Practice Kegel exercises to prevent urine leakage and improve sexual intercourse.
  • Do activities that allow you to relax, such as yoga to alleviate sleep disorders and anxiety.
  • Avoid the consumption of alcohol and stop smoking.
  • Use a vaginal lubricant to combat dryness.
  • Find and eliminate the trigger for hot flushes.
  • Some herbal supplements like maca, ginseng, and hops can help your body prepare for menopause and improve some symptoms like hot fuashes.

Medical Treatment

When the menopause symptoms are very severe and interfere with your daily life, you can choose to use medications. A doctor must prescribe them (NHS, n.d.):
  • Hormone therapy.
  • Vaginal topical estrogens that seek to improve genital dryness.
  • Antidepressants to treat mood swings and, in some cases, sleep disorders.
  • Other specific drugs for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.

Alternative Therapies

In addition, some alternative therapies can help relieve symptoms, such as phytoestrogens or bioidentical hormones. Both are estrogens that come from plants and some foods (such as soybeans, legumes, or nuts), which can have an effect similar to traditional hormone therapy. Menopause symptoms are very diverse and include physical and mental problems. Fortunately, most are resolved with lifestyle changes. So being aware of them from perimenopause makes a difference to prepare ahead of time and improve your quality of life. However, if you feel that your day-to-day is being altered, do not hesitate to consult a doctor. Also, go for a consultation immediately if you notice postmenopausal bleeding. References ACOG (n.d.). My Periods Have Changed. Is Menopause Around the Corner? Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/my-periods-have-changed-is-menopause-around-the-corner Everyday Health. Menopause Symptoms That May Surprise You. Retrieved from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause-pictures/menopause-symptoms-that-may-surprise-you.aspx Healthline (2019). Are Headaches a Symptom of Menopause? Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause-headaches https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890704/ Johns Hopkins Medicine (n.d). How Does Menopause Affect My Sleep? Retrieved from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/how-does-menopause-affect-my-sleep Mayo Clinic (n.d.) Perimenopause. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666 NHS (n.d.). Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Retrieved from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/ PMC (2016).Menopausal Symptoms and Their Management. Retrieved from: The Center for the Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders. Menopausal Anxiety. Retrieved from: https://centerforanxietydisorders.com/treatment-programs/menopause-anxiety/ Uptodate (2020). Patient Education: Vaginal Dryness (Beyond the Basics). Retrieved from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/vaginal-dryness-beyond-the-basics Urogynecology University of Colorado (n.d). Menopause & Urinary Symptoms. Retrieved from: https://urogyn.coloradowomenshealth.com/conditions/bladder/menopause-urinary-symptoms.html Women`s Health Concern. Vaginal dryness. Retrieved from: https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/vaginal-dryness/

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