Anyone with a period will eventually go through menopause, the transitional phase when your period stops completely and reproduction is no longer a viable option. On average, most people begin to experience menopause around age 52.
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding menopause as well as unhelpful and even negative stigmatization. Many people are taught to view menopause as the end of something when in reality, menopause is simply a new beginning of the next chapter in your life.
What should you expect during menopause? What menopause symptoms should you be prepared to experience and what can you do to alleviate them?
Read on for seven things every menopausal person should know about to understand the transition and alleviate some of the harsher symptoms.
1. Menopause Can Arrive at Almost Any Age
While the average age of the arrival of menopause is 52 in America, menopause can arrive at almost any post-pubescent age. In some cases, people may be in menopause as early as their 20s or 30s, although this is not common.
The age at which you begin menopause varies based on a number of factors. There do appear to be some genetic links, meaning that the start of your menopause may mirror the experience your mother or sisters went through. However, there are outside factors such as health conditions and smoking that can lead to an earlier or later onset of menopause.
2. Perimenopause Is Not the Same as Menopause
You may have heard the term perimenopause before. This is not another name for menopause but instead refers to the period of time leading up to menopause when your estrogen levels begin to drop. At this time, you may begin to notice symptoms such as irregular periods, hot flashes, changes in sexual function, and more.
If you have begun perimenopause, you may be wondering if you can still get pregnant. Oftentimes, perimenopause causes low fertility. Talk to a specialist about fertility testing and other measures you can take to find out more.
3. Reduced Levels of Estrogen Can Cause a Wide Variety of Symptoms
Once you are in menopause, your estrogen levels drop drastically. This can lead to a wide variety of symptoms that may affect you on a day-to-day basis.
Many of these symptoms resemble the symptoms you may have experienced during perimenopause, such as hot flashes and changes in sexual function. Many people also experience mood swings, vaginal dryness, slowed metabolism, incontinence, and more.
While you can’t reverse menopause, you can seek treatments that will alleviate the symptoms of menopause.
4. Not All Hormone Treatments Are Alike
We often hear about hormone treatments that may alleviate the symptoms of menopause. However, it is important to note that not all hormone treatments are alike.
Before you decide whether or not hormone treatment is right for you (or which hormone treatment to pursue), take a look at this synthetic hormones guide to find out more about the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones.
5. Certain Behaviors Can Trigger Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are one of the most common menopause symptoms we hear about, in part because it is such a disruptive (and oftentimes unsettling) symptom. Hot flashes cause the temperature in your upper body to rise, possibly to an uncomfortable level. It can also cause discoloration or blotchiness in the skin, sweating, an increased heart rate and palpitations, and temporary feelings of dizziness.
There are certain behaviors and outside factors that can trigger the onset of a hot flash. These include consuming alcohol or caffeine, smoking, or feeling increased stress. Behaviors that may help to reduce the severity of a hot flash are dressing in layers and practicing breathing exercises when hot flashes set in.
6. It’s Time to Pay Attention to Bone Health
When your estrogen levels drop, it’s time to start paying attention to your bone health and taking measures to reduce bone loss. Declining estrogen can lead to a loss of calcium in the bones, which can have an adverse effect on your bone density. When left unmonitored, this can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis as well as an increased risk of breaking or fracturing a bone.
There are a few steps you can take to boost your bone health during menopause. These include eating foods that are high in calcium, taking vitamin D, exercising regularly (and incorporating weight lifting into your workout), and reducing your alcohol consumption.
7. It’s Time to Pay Attention to Heart Health
Your bones aren’t the only part of your body that may be at risk during menopause. Reduced estrogen levels can cause dizziness and heart palpitations and make your arteries less flexible, reducing blood flow. This may cause an increased risk of heart disease.
Talk to your doctor about your heart health and find out if there are any medications you should be taking. In addition, you can begin to eat a heart-healthy diet, increase your cardio-focused workouts, monitor your weight, and quit smoking if you are a smoker.
Menopause Is Not an End But a New Beginning
There is a lot of confusion about menopause, when it begins, and what effects it may have on the body. We often talk about menopause as an end but in reality, it is a new beginning. Learning what you to expect from menopause and how you can manage menopause symptoms is the best way to approach this next chapter in your life.
Whether you’re looking for information about your health, ways that you can boost your finances, or the latest technology news, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got something for everyone, so take a look around and learn something new!