None of us want to face the fact that we’re getting older and that our bodies are changing year after year. However, if you’re female and in your forties or fifties, you might have all too much evidence of this age creep as your hormones change.
In particular, menopause is something women have to deal with that can cause various unpleasant symptoms and issues. If you’ve started noticing your body and mood behaving differently, it helps to understand the signs of menopause and what to do if you might have it.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the term used to describe the time when a woman stops menstruating, ovulation no longer occurs, the production of estrogen and progesterone ceases, and she can no longer become pregnant naturally. A woman is considered postmenopausal when she hasn’t menstruated in 12 consecutive months, and the word menopause refers explicitly to the final menstrual period she experiences.
Menopause typically happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can occur sooner or later for some ladies. The average age of the onset of menopause is about 50 years.
Symptoms of Menopause
In the months or even years leading up to menopause, you might experience some or all of a list of symptoms. For instance, you could notice mood changes, irregular periods, chills, hot flashes, or night sweats. You may have sleep troubles, vaginal dryness, or find your metabolism slowing and weight gain occurring. You could get drier skin and thinning hair, increased hair growth on other parts of the body, such as the face or chest, and have some loss of breast fullness, too.
Depression and anxiety arise for many women during this time of their lives due to hormonal fluctuations, and some people have memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and headaches to contend with. Other symptoms include racing heart, increased urination, reduced libido, sore or tender breasts, and more incidences of urinary tract infections. Ladies may also deal with painful or stiff joints and lowered muscle or bone mass.
Every lady’s menopause experience is different, and the signs and bodily changes you go through can vary significantly from the next woman.
If you’re experiencing some or all of the symptoms listed above and they’re causing difficulties for you or you’re 45 years old or younger, it’s wise to visit a doctor ASAP to chat about what you’re going through. While the signs mentioned and details of your health history, age, etc., can indicate you’ve probably hit menopause, your physician will likely want to run some other tests, too.
For example, a blood test can measure the level of a few different hormones in the blood that relate to menstruation and can confirm menopause. There are saliva and over-the-counter urine tests, too, though both of these don’t tend to be as reliable. Also, a medical practitioner may order some additional bloodwork to rule out other underlying conditions that could be responsible for symptoms that seem like menopause.
They might do thyroid, liver, and kidney function tests, a blood lipid profile, and tests of progesterone, prolactin, testosterone, estradiol, and chorionic gonadotropin to check what’s happening in your body. It’s also worth knowing that there’s a diagnostic blood test known as the PicoAMH Elisa that can help doctors determine if a woman has entered menopause or is getting closer to that period of her life.
If you suffer from uncomfortable and life-affecting menopausal symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment options. In particular, your physician may prescribe you hormone therapy to manage issues such as night sweats, hot flashes, osteoporosis, and more.
Other medications can help with specific problems such as vaginal dryness, recurrent urinary tract infections, depression and anxiety, and hair loss or thinning. Ask the medical practitioner if you can access convenient online prescription refill services, so you don’t have to go into the clinic in person each time you need a script.
Some women find that lifestyle changes and natural home remedies can help them manage their menopausal disturbances. For instance, dress in loose, layered clothing, avoid heavy blankets and invest in fans or air conditioning to help you manage hot flashes and night sweats.
Try to eat healthily, manage your weight, and exercise regularly to stay healthier and generally feel better, too, and talk to a therapist or other professional about your feelings if you’re affected by depression or anxiety. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga may help, as can supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals you may be deficient in right now, like vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, or zinc.
Menopause isn’t a fun time for any woman, but you may find that your symptoms are mild or easily treatable if you’re lucky. Even if not, remember that menopause is a natural, normal part of life as a woman and a time you will eventually pass through.
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