Are you experiencing symptoms of menopause? It is best to talk to your doctor about what you are experiencing. Your doctor may start by asking you about your symptoms and family history to determine if it really is the menopausal transition causing your problems. In some cases, your doctor may suggest a blood test to check your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol (E2) levels to rule out any other causes for the changes you’re experiencing.
Unfortunately or fortunately, menopause does not happen all at once. We may want this phase of our lives to be over quickly but your body transitions to menopause over several years. This transition may cause you to have menopause symptoms and irregular periods. The average age for menopause in the United States is 52. True menopause doesn’t happen until one year after a woman’s final menstrual period. For that reason, a woman who does not want to get pregnant should continue to use birth control for at least a full 12 months after her last period.
Signs & Symptoms Of Menopause
As your estrogen levels decrease, you may start to experience symptoms of menopause. Some women may experience mild symptoms that can be managed with lifestyle changes and others experience more severe symptoms.
List of symptoms
- Changes in your period. Which could be heavy bleeding or spotting. Maybe your period happens closer together or lasts longer than a week.
- Hot flashes. Many women have hot flashes during this transition and can even last years after menopause.
- Bladder control. Having a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing.
- Trouble sleeping. This could be trouble falling asleep or night sweats waking you up.
- Vaginal health or change in sex drive. Vaginal dryness can make intercourse uncomfortable. You may lose interest in sex or you may even feel freer (not having to worry about getting pregnant. You could be at risk for STDs – practice safe sex.)
- Feeling moody. This could be due to menopause and/or you could be stressed, because of changes in lifestyle like caring for aging parents. It could be that you get tired easier that causes a change in mood.
- Other changes in your body. You start to feel more stiff and achy or begin to have memory problems. If you experience symptoms of aches, pains, headaches, and heart palpitations be sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Some Of Your Symptoms
- At night lower the temperature in your bedroom and drink cold water before bed.
- Wear layers of clothing that can be removed when your hot flashes begin.
- Carry portable fans with you.
- Avoiding caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol can help lessen your hot flashes.
- Try maintaining a healthy weight. Women that are overweight or obese often experience more severe hot flashes.
- Meditation and hypnotherapy have been known to help with hot flashes.
- Follow a regular sleep schedule.
- Avoid napping late in the afternoon.
- Read a book or listen to soothing music. Avoid using your phone just before bedtime or watching television – the light can make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
- Exercise early in the day.
- Avoid eating large meals right before bedtime.
- Stay away from caffeine before bed.
- Keep in mind alcohol will not help you sleep.
Vaginal Health & Low Sex Drive
Many women have vaginal dryness during the menopausal transition. This can make sex painful. Women may also experience a tightening of the vaginal opening, burning, itching, and dryness (called vaginal atrophy). Whether there is a connection between vaginal health and low sex drive, may be determined on an individual basis.
Here are a few things you can try for your vaginal health:
- For vaginal dryness, you may find relief by using a nonprescription, water-based lubricant, a variety of which can be found at most grocery and drug stores.
- Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers, are often used regularly and not just during sex to replenish moisture and relieve dryness.
- Your doctor may suggest prescription hormones. Local vaginal treatments (such as estrogen creams, rings, or tablets) are often used to treat this symptom.
Ways to increase your sexual desire:
- A woman’s brain is still her most important sexual organ. So use it to think about sex.
- Make time for sex. When life gets too busy, schedule a romantic date night.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, eat healthily, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Ultimately, this can be a challenging phase of a woman’s life. It is always best to speak up. You don’t have to go through this alone. Talk to your doctor to find the best ways for you to manage this time in your life. Here at OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we want you to live a healthy life – physically, mentally, and emotionally.