Menopause: How You Can Cope with Life’s Big Change
When approaching menopause, many women become anxious about the symptoms they’ll experience during their transition, since they’ve been conditioned to expect side effects such as hot flashes, weight gain, anxiety, reduced energy, problems sleeping, and more. In other words, women think that throughout the process, they’ll be miserable—at least some of the time.
But is this actually the case? Let’s take a look.
Do All Women Experience Menopausal Symptoms?
Menopause, which is defined as “occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles,” is something that all women go through. And according to the article, “Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States.” However, just because every woman eventually goes through menopause, this doesn’t mean that each one will experience the same symptoms—or even any symptoms at all.
According to this Las Vegas Journal Review article, "… despite the traditional symptoms, not every woman experiences menopause in the same way … It's very, very individualistic," says Dr. David Kartzinel , a Las Vegas obstetrician and gynecologist. Some patients experience extreme sleep loss and other signs of the change, "others go through it and don't feel a thing."
In other words, just like anything else, what your body goes through during menopause will be unique to you. However, when the time does come, what can you generally expect?
What to Expect During Menopause
First and foremost, menopause is a normal part of every woman’s life, and shouldn’t be something looked upon with dread or fear. Instead, menopause can be a healthy transition from one stage of life to another, similar to how you once transitioned from a girl to a menstruating teenager.
During perimenopause (when your ovaries begin producing less estrogen), your periods may become shorter and less frequent, and you may begin experiencing some of the side effects of the process, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Reduced sex drive
- Mood Swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Breast tenderness
And although you should visit with your Advanced Family Medicine physician once this occurs, these are common and are generally nothing to cause concern.
According to WebMD, perimenopause can last anywhere from a few months to 10 years, but officially comes to an end (and transitions over to menopause) once it’s been 12 months since your last period.
What Can You Do to Address the Symptoms Of Menopause?
According to the Office on Women’s Health, “Most women do not need treatment of menopausal symptoms. Some women find that their symptoms go away by themselves, and some women just don't find the symptoms very uncomfortable.”
However, if you’ve spoken with your Advanced Family Medicine doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing, and they give you the “green light,” there are a wide variety of non-medication methods you can use to address specific symptoms. These include lifestyle changes (e.g. changing the foods you eat, becoming more physically active, reducing stress, etc.) for hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings. You can also purchase over the counter products to address other symptoms, such as vaginal dryness.
If your menopause symptoms don’t respond to lifestyle changes, your AFM physician may be able to prescribe some form of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) using low-dose oral contraceptives (or similar treatments) containing estrogen or progesterone.
Are You Menopausal? We Can Help!
Here’s the bottom line: Although every woman’s journey through menopause is unique, if you don’t properly address your symptoms, you could be reducing your productivity and your overall quality of life.
Because of this, if you’re currently going through perimenopause or menopause, be sure to contact Advanced Family Medicine today at (425) 453-6838. We’ll help you address the true nature of any challenges you may be experiencing, and help you overcome them.