As a woman, you face a unique set of life stages that directly affect your health. Just like puberty and pregnancy, the thought of menopause can fill you with nervous anticipation, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
According to Mayo Clinic, you’re officially in menopause twelve months after your last period. Leading up to this point, your body stops producing the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. On average, the transition into menopause usually lasts for seven years.
You’ve heard other women talk about menopause symptoms and how their lives were affected. And maybe you’re worried about being in for a rough ride. That’s totally normal! While your experience may be different from anyone else’s, there are many common symptoms most women have to deal with, and many women have questions like these about what to expect during menopause.
What’s up with the Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are probably the most well-known symptom of menopause. Many women struggle with this annoying issue during the menopausal transition. Usually, hot flashes are described as a sudden rush of heat throughout your upper body, including your face, neck, chest, back, and arms. Your skin may become flushed and you may sweat heavily or shiver uncontrollably during a hot flash.
Most hot flashes last anywhere from thirty seconds to ten minutes. According to the National Institute on Aging, they may be related to fluctuating estrogen levels in your body. But doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes hot flashes—until they know what causes them, there won’t be an effective treatment for them. In the meantime, when you feel a hot flash coming on, sip on a cool drink to beat the heat.
Mood Swings Are Normal, Right?
Sure, mood swings are normal . . . up to a point. During menopause, many women have mood changes, including increased irritability and crying spells. As the North American Menopause Society describes, you’re more likely to be moody during perimenopause if you had bad mood swings before your monthly periods.
But mood swings are different from more serious psychological issues, like depression or anxiety. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that your risk for these issues is higher as you go through the menopausal transition. If you think you may be depressed or anxious, it’s important to talk with your doctor about what’s going on. A correct diagnosis can let you find a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms.
Will I Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep?
Most women in menopause have problems sleeping. Falling levels of progesterone make getting to sleep and staying asleep harder. Hot flashes may be bad enough to make you sweat at night. If you’re like many women, you may also have to get up several times during the night to go to the bathroom.
While night sweats and urinary symptoms are common, they can mess up your sleep schedule. You can help your body prepare for sleep by regularly exercising and limiting your consumption of food and alcohol before bed. If you can’t solve your sleep problem on your own, talk with your doctor about your sleep schedule and other treatments that may help.
Should I Be Worried about Intimacy Issues?
As if it wasn’t frustrating enough, you may be more likely to experience intimacy problems during menopause. As estrogen levels in your body fall, you may experience side effects that make intimate relationships uncomfortable or painful.
If the painful effects of menopause are affecting your love life, MonaLisa Touch® may help to restore your vaginal health. This laser treatment has been investigated in over thirty clinical studies, and many women say it helps them feel like themselves again. If you’re interested in MonaLisa Touch as a treatment option, talk with your doctor about whether the procedure is right for you.
You may not look forward to menopause, but it helps to know there are ways to deal with the menopause symptoms this new stage of life brings. Talking with female friends and relatives may shed some light on home remedies that worked for them. But sometimes, you need your doctor’s help to feel better. Tell your doctor about any symptoms you have that interfere with your life and relationships—with help, you can feel like yourself again.