Menopause is a natural part of every woman's life. In the U.S.A, the average age for menopause is 52. Thankfully, it doesn't happen suddenly, so you have time to prepare.
While many unpleasant myths surround this condition, it's just another stage of adulthood. Knowing what to expect can help you spot the signs early and start working toward improving your quality of life.
With menopause, education and preparation are half the battle. Let's take a closer look at what the main menopause symptoms are and what can be done to alleviate them.
When Does Menopause Start?
Menopause is the end of a woman's menstrual cycle and fertility. Contrary to the common misconception, your periods don't stop suddenly. The process can take several years, allowing you to get used to the idea of the new biological stage in your life.
The menopause process has three parts:
- Perimenopause — begins eight to ten years before menopause when the hormone levels change and estrogen production in your ovaries starts going down. Usually, it begins when a woman is around 45 – 47 years old. However, for some women, it can begin in their 30s (premature menopause). Symptoms of menopause start occurring one to two years before the end of perimenopause. Before this stage is over, you can still get pregnant.
- Menopause — occurs when a woman has her final period because her ovaries stop producing new eggs. This point can be marked when 12 consecutive months pass after your last period. During these months, menopause symptoms become clear and intense.
- Postmenopause — when 12 months after having the last period pass, postmenopause begins. After that, menopausal symptoms ease. However, some women may experience them for several more years.
Since symptoms of menopause can bother women before, during, and after menopause, it's imperative to control them. Otherwise, the quality of life can worsen significantly.
When Should I Expect My Menopause?
Since all women are different, it's hard to predict when your menopause will begin. You can make some guesses based on your family history. If your mother's, sister's, or grandmother's menopause began at 51, you should expect it at around the same age.
Studies show that besides genetics, the beginning of your menopause can be affected by the following factors:
- Certain medical conditions like autoimmune diseases,
- Radiation and chemotherapy treatment,
- Surgeries (like ovary removal),
- Number of pregnancies,
- Lifestyle choices (use of alcohol and tobacco use),
- Use of contraceptives,
- And more.
When you are nearing the age of menopause, consider speaking to your gynecologist about it. By studying your medical history and asking the right questions, the doctor can help you determine the approximate menopause timetable.
What Are the Most Common Menopause Symptoms?
Signs of menopause vary in duration and intensity. The most common symptoms women usually experience during all three stages of menopause include:
During the menopausal transition, your periods become irregular. Sometimes they don't appear for a month or two only to come back regularly for several more months. You may also notice that periods start happening on shorter cycles. For example, if your standard cycle was 28 days, it can become 24 days.
Even though periods are irregular, you can still get pregnant. That's why it's imperative to continue using contraception unless you are planning to conceive.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
About 75% of American women have hot flashes (also called hot flushes) during perimenopause. This symptom can cause severe discomfort, forcing women to seek medical treatment.
A hot flash can feel like a sudden surge of heat in the upper body with high intensity on the face, neck, and chest. When it occurs, your heart usually races, and you perspire. Night sweats are hot flashes women experience in their sleep.
A hot flash usually lasts between one and two minutes. It can happen several times a day or occur a couple of times per hour. Some women never experience hot flashes.
During perimenopause, women may feel a decrease in libido and vaginal dryness. It's important to understand that just because your fertility age is over, it doesn't mean you won't enjoy sexual intercourse again.
Postmenopausal women feel freer and more satisfied with sex because they don't need to worry about pregnancy. Vaginal dryness, which is caused by the drop in estrogen levels, can be countered with vaginal moisturizers and lubricants.
When hormones change during menopause, they can affect your mood. Women who were prone to anxiety and depression in the past can feel these symptoms return.
Mood changes don't just decrease your quality of life, they can affect your work and relationships. That's one of the most important reasons to try and alleviate the symptoms.
Other symptoms of menopause include:
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Sleep problems
- Memory problems
- Sore breasts
- Lower bone mass (symptoms of osteoporosis)
- Hair thinning
- Joint pain
For each woman, the collection of menopausal symptoms can be different. If you experience any of them, it's important to consult a doctor for a correct diagnosis.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopause
Symptoms of menopause occur when a woman's body starts producing fewer estrogen and progesterone hormones. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is aimed at replacing these hormones in the body to reduce the effects of menopause.
It's possible to administer menopausal hormone therapy in the following forms:
- Skin patches
- Vaginal creams
Many women continue HRT for several years after menopause. While it's highly effective, long-term HRT can also have side effects, such as an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
What Natural Remedies Can Reduce Menopause Symptoms
While progesterone and estrogen therapy is effective for many women, some of them choose to use natural remedies. Some of these remedies can be very effective as both standalone treatment and complement to HRT.
- Black cohosh — this member of the buttercup family raises estrogen levels in women and helps alleviate hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and mood swings.
- Soy — since it contains isoflavones, which are plant estrogens, soy can be effective in treating menopause symptoms. Studies show that it helps deal with mood swings and fatigue related to the decline in estrogen levels.
- Flaxseeds — as a good source of lignans, flaxseeds can help balance estrogen, thus alleviating mild menopause symptoms.
- Wild yam — some of its natural compounds are similar to progesterone and estrogen.
- Ginseng — can help battle mood swings and improve sleep.
During menopause, it's imperative to maintain proper vitamin levels. Otherwise, the deficiency can worsen the symptoms. Take a closer look at the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A — vital for healthy bones.
- Vitamin B12 — great for bone and heart health.
- Vitamin B6 — can keep serotonin levels high.
- Vitamin E — can serve as a lubricant to help with vaginal dryness and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression.
- Vitamin D — can improve mood and cognitive functions.
- Calcium — helps battle bone loss.
It's not always easy to regulate vitamin levels by adjusting your diet. That's why many women consider taking supplements.
Alleviating Menopause Symptoms with BINTO
Menopause symptoms can be unpleasant. Thankfully, many ways exist to make sure they don't reduce your quality of life. One of them is using natural remedies.
At BINTO, we created a highly effective supplement kit for women who are going through menopause. If you'd like to learn more, please contact our team of experts at any convenient time.