One of the natural parts of a woman’s aging process involves menopause. Menopause is simply when a woman’s menstrual period ceases and the ovaries stop producing hormones. However, many women would say that there was nothing simple about their menopause experience!
As women begin their menopause journey, they begin to experience a myriad of symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, urinary issues, and more. For those who have a uterus, periods may occur more or less frequently as well. For most women, menopause begins around the age of 50 but some women will experience surgical menopause at a younger age.
Read more about Menopause.
We all know about hot flashes. We also might know about insomnia. Do you know the other common menopause symptoms?
Whether you are experiencing natural or surgical menopause, you could find yourself dealing with a myriad of symptoms which can affect you from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Depending on the severity and extent of your symptoms, you can find yourself feeling overwhelmed, miserable, an exhausted.
Read more about 10 Common Menopause Symptoms.
Do you have any suggestions for better sleep? Years ago I discovered some choices I had to make during the day to make sure I had the best sleep during my nights.
For me, I eat dinner early and do not indulge in sugary desserts after 7 pm. The sugar seems to rev up my system and keep me from sleeping. Caffeine is also one of my culprits. I love iced tea but have discovered that having any caffeine after 2 pm affects the quality of my sleep.
Chocolate at any time – in large quantities – affects my sleep and is one of my headache triggers. Sadly, I rarely have chocolate.
I go to bed at the same time every night – and get up at the same time every day.
What about you?
Come talk about menopause and sleep in our Menopause forums at HysterSisters.com.
Hot weather, hot tubs, and saunas can all increase your body temperature and trigger hot flashes. During hot days, try to stay indoors to avoid the heat. Avoid spending time in a hot tub or sauna if you find they cause hot flashes. Instead, spend some time in the pool or take a cool shower. Exercise indoors rather than outdoors. Keep a fan close by to blow on you during hot days.
Stop smoking: Smoking can cause hot flashes as well as other health issues. Now is a good time to work with your doctor to find a method to help you stop smoking. Not only could you prevent some hot flashes but you could improve your overall health.
Keep a detailed symptom diary to help you determine what triggers hot flashes for you. Knowing your triggers allows you to adjust your diet and lifestyle to help minimize some of your hot flashes.
Read more about hot flash triggers.
Stress: Yes, stress (and anger) can cause hot flashes. During a stressful situation, your body releases epinephrine, which increases blood flow and raises your body temperature. Avoiding known stressful situations can help avoid these hot flashes. Additionally, learning some relaxation techniques to allow you to cope with stressful situations may help you stay on top of these hot flashes. Try practicing breathing exercises, taking a walk, listening to soothing music, meditating, visiting with friends, and/or learning to say no to activities that will cause you stress. Whenever possible, try to control your stress and anger to help prevent hot flashes.
Read more about hot flash triggers.
Learn what triggers your hot flashes and avoid them! If you are dealing with menopause symptoms, hot flashes can be a problem. However, there are some specific triggers you can avoid to help minimize them.
Foods: Many foods can trigger hot flashes, while others may help prevent hot flashes.
Foods to avoid:
Hot foods and beverages
Foods that may help:
Soy based foods
Cold herbal teas
Read more about hot flash triggers.
Are you experiencing hot flashes? How would you describe them? Our members find all sorts of ways to explain their hot flashes – from “combustible” to “internal burning” to “slow burn”. Although hot flashes do not pose a health threat – in and of itself – they can be embarassing, inconvenient and sometimes debilitating.
Read more about hot flashes.
One member asks: I have decided to go through with the hysterectomy and oophorectomy, but I had such horrible reactions to hormone treatments in the past that I am scared to take hormone therapy after the procedure. Can I get by without HRT?
Some HysterSisters do not use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and experience only minor symptoms after their hysterectomy and oophorectomy. On the other hand, other HysterSisters must use HRT to effectively treat their unbearable menopause symptoms. There is no way to tell in advance what your individual experience will be. Read more: Can I Get By Without Hormones?
Thinking about forgoing hormone replacement therapy after your hysterectomy or oophorectomy? Before you make your final decision, you need to know how important estrogen is for your body. Estrogen is essential for your physical, mental, emotional, and sexual health. Going without it can be not only uncomfortable, but also harmful. Consider these facts:
- Estrogen can affect one’s emotional well-being. No or low estrogen can lead to mood swings, depression, irritability, anxiety, and insomnia.
- Estrogen helps maintain good brain function and the development of nerve cells. Thus, a lack of estrogen can lead to mental fog, cognitive impairment, and dementia.
- Estrogen helps with cardiovascular health, especially elasticity of the blood vessels and tendency to resist plaque formation. Too little or no estrogen can lead to heart palpitations, blood pressure issues, and other heart concerns.
- Estrogen can increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), so not having estrogen can create cholesterol issues.
- Estrogen plays a roll in the health of the skeletal system. Without adequate estrogen, one is at higher risk for osteoporosis and bone loss.
- Estrogen affects the body’s production of oil and collagen which is necessary for healthy skin and vaginal tissues. Without collagen, skin can become dry and lose its elasticity. Vaginal atrophy can also occur which can lead to painful intercourse, bleeding, and urological issues.
While estrogen produced by the body can be essential for overall health, there are pros and cons for using estrogen replacement therapy. Work closely with a knowledgeable physician to determine what is right for you.
Many women are unable to use any type of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a wide variety of reasons. These can include cancer concerns, blood clot issues, or a hormonal dependent diagnosis such as endometriosis. Some women who could use HRT still choose not to as a personal preference. As a result, managing menopausal symptoms can be frustrating, especially when it comes to hot flashes.
Fortunately, a new option is on the horizon. In February of 2013, HysterSisters.com asked members to complete a personal hot flash survey. The results were compiled and reported at the FDA Advisory Council for Brisdelle™. This made the FDA aware of the interest in a non-HRT prescription drug that could be used in the treatment of hot flashes. The FDA has recently approved the first, non-hormonal treatment therapy prescription for menopausal hot flashes. This new medication, developed by Noven Therapeutics, LLC, could be available in pharmacies as early as November 2013.
Read more about Brisdelle®.