While every menopause experience is unique, most women have some common symptoms that start before this phase of life and can last for years. Menopausal symptoms can begin four years before your last period and last until four years later, with about 10% of women having some symptoms for 12 years after their last period.
While it’s not always possible to avoid symptoms of menopause, the right treatments can reduce pain and discomfort, allowing you to feel more comfortable and live normally.
The menopause specialists at Ovation Wellness in Madison, Mississippi, provide professional, caring services for women in this stage of life. Based on a thorough examination, the staff recommends treatments that can alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life, whether your issues are just starting or you’ve had them for years.
Many women manage menopause symptoms with hormone therapy that includes estrogen. Other options can involve over-the-counter treatments and lifestyle strategies. Read on to learn about common menopausal symptoms and the treatments that can help.
No. 1: Hot flashes
Hot flashes rank as the most common symptom of menopause, affecting about 75% of all women. These episodes occur as brief and sudden increases in your body temperature and can be accompanied by perspiration, heart palpitations, and dizziness.
Estrogen therapy is regarded as the best treatment for hot flashes. For minor episodes, you can reduce symptoms by keeping rooms well ventilated, setting home thermostats low, avoiding hot and spicy foods, and dressing in layers to adapt to changing body temperatures.
No. 2: Sudden weight gain
Decreasing estrogen levels can slow your metabolism, making it harder for you to lose weight, especially around your middle. Simultaneously, aging can cause you to lose muscle mass and reduce your activity level.
Increasing daily activity levels and participating in aerobic activities can help combat weight gain and reduce the size of your waistline. Adding weight-resistance exercises and strength training can increase metabolism and build muscle mass.
No. 3: Mood swings
As estrogen levels decrease, your body loses its ability to control mood changes and the emotional effects of menopause. Estrogen helps your body manage several mood-boosting hormones including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
You can offset these changes by reducing stress with exercise and calming practices such as meditation or yoga. Getting a good night’s sleep can also reduce overall irritability. Practice deep breathing to clear your mind when you feel you’re in the midst of emotional turmoil.
No. 4: Vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness affects nearly 1 in 3 women at this stage of life. As estrogen levels decline, your vagina loses its ability to produce natural lubrication. The effect can cause painful intercourse when rubbing occurs without proper lubrication.
Using over-the-counter lubricants before intercourse can provide relief. In addition to hormone therapy, your physician can also prescribe medications or vaginal estrogen that may relieve symptoms.
No. 5: Decreased sex drive
The hormonal changes that occur with regular periods make your sex drive peak right before and after ovulation. Without a monthly cycle to regulate arousal, you may have a decreased sex drive.
You can improve desire by addressing issues that affect your relationship and your self-image. You can also improve your experience by doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, introducing new approaches to sexual stimulation, and increasing foreplay.
No. 6: Skin changes
Lower levels of estrogen can make your skin more likely to thin, sag, and wrinkle during menopause. At the same time, your body reduces its production of collagen, causing reduced elasticity.
A daily regimen that includes proper cleansing and moisturizing for your skin type can reduce the effects of aging. A broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher can prevent further sun damage and protect against skin cancer.
No. 7: Hair loss
Hair loss in menopause can range from overall thinning to bald patches. It occurs with the reduction in hormones that help hair grow faster and remain on your head longer. At the same time, your body produces more androgens, male hormones that shrink hair follicles and cause hair loss.
You can improve hair health by reducing stress, increasing activity, and eating a healthy diet. If you don’t see improvement, hair loss medications such as minoxidil and anti-androgens can combat hair loss in women.
No. 8: Sleep disturbances
The reduction of hormone levels in menopause can result in poor sleep quality and an increase in sleep disturbances including hot flashes and even sleep apnea. Missing out on a good night’s sleep can also worsen all your menopausal symptoms.
You can achieve quality sleep by establishing a regular nighttime routine and sleeping in a room with cooler temperatures. Avoiding large meals before bedtime and practicing relaxation techniques can calm your mind and body. You may also benefit from medications that work to stabilize your hormone levels to improve sleep.
At Ovation Wellness, we can help you learn more about common symptoms of menopause and treatments that can relieve discomfort and improve your quality of life. Call our office to schedule a consultation today.