Although I am not fully in the throws of menopause yet, I have plenty of friends that are. Some are sailing through it, whilst others are struggling to deal with the many symptoms and issues it brings. So I thought I would write the first of my blog posts on the symptoms of menopause.
Over time, I want this subject to be less awkward to talk about. It definitely feels to me that it is a subject which is somewhat brushed over. Many people seem slightly embarrassed to discuss it. Well, that stops right here and right now. The menopause is not a dirty word, nor is it to be whispered about. Instead it is a phase of a woman’s life that needs to be better understood. Women going through it need support not to be looked at as if they have just landed from the planet Mars.
What age does the menopause start?
Usually it can happen in the mid forties. But there have been many women who have started the menopause earlier than this, and other women into their fifties. The point that you need to know, is that there is no real set age as to when you can get menopause symptoms.
What defines being on the menopause?
Menopause is when it’s been a year since a woman has had her last period.
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause can be where a person gets symptoms around 4-5 years (this is an average timescale) before the menopause.
Why do we get the symptoms of menopause?
One word…. hormones! The ovaries gradually decide to reduce the production of oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone. When we get the symptoms associated with the menopause, this is simply the body making adjustments. Instead of the hormones being taken from the ovaries, the body will take them from other areas such as the adrenal glands.
List of the symptoms of menopause.
This list isn’t exhaustive. In fact somebody once told me there are around forty. Crikey, I do hope that I don’t get a full house! Although I am not in the full throws, I have symptoms that come and go. The main one being that I wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. I wake up with such enthusiasm, that I could clean the whole house and do a full supermarket shop. Instead of engaging in such silly midnight pursuits, I just lay there awake. Gradually I fall asleep again, only to feel like the living dead when the alarm goes off. Thankfully it doesn’t happen every night, and I have some of my own little remedies that help me now.
Here are just some of the symptoms of menopause:-
- Hot flushes
- Insomnia – sleeplessness
- Joint/Muscle Aches
- Irregular Periods
- Night Sweats
- Dry Skin
- Weight Gain
- Brain Fog Daydreaming
- Memory Lapses & Forgetfulness
- Mood Swings & Irritability
- Change in Sex Drive & Dryness
- Low Mood & Depression
- Racing Heart & Palpitations
- Bladder Control Issues
- Breast Tenderness
Right, I think that is enough on the list for the time being! Over time with the blog, I shall be looking at some of these symptoms individually and giving some helpful tips. Of course ladies, please let me know of any helpful advice you can give or if you are looking for help. Together we can support each other.
I should also point out that if you feel that these symptoms are unusual to you, or causing you distress, then it is advisable to seek the help of your GP.
Post Menopause Symptoms
There are similarities with menopause symptoms but with oestrogen deficiency there could be some of these too.
- No Periods
- Unwanted Hair Growth (due to testosterone)
- Hair Thinning
- Skin issues – wrinkling, itching, lack of collagen.
How Long Do The Symptoms Of Menopause Last?
It is very difficult to say as every body is different. For some, they get very little symptoms and breeze through the menopause. Others can be a year or so. Whereas some women can have symptoms for several years. It is estimated that 70% of women experience symptoms of the menopause, with differing degrees of severity. For some people it can be serious, especially when it comes to depression. Always seek help. Remember it is not you, just your hormones. There are different treatments and your GP is there to help.
How Can I Help Myself During The Menopause?
I shall post more on the different symptoms and self help over time. However, there are some general ways that may help you. These involve:-
- Diet – Reduce red meat, dairy, sugars, fats and general junk food
- Quit smoking
- Moderate alchohol intake
- Keep to a healthy weight
- Try to keep stress to a minimum
- Take moderate exercise
- Make sure you take time for yourself – self care is important.
The thing to remember is that it doesn’t last forever. A friend of mine is having a torrid time. She is constantly blaming herself for forgetting things, feeling exhausted and just being generally low. I tell her she doesn’t have to feel bad whatsoever. It is hormones and not her. I also try and remind her of the last major time hormones came into play in her life. For most women teenage years, were a hormonal mash. It took time then, for things to calm down and our bodies adjust. It is just another phase and you are not to blame for how you feel. Getting the right support, understanding what is happening and knowing that you shouldn’t feel bad for speaking out about it, is the most important thing.
But the most important point which I will always re-iterate, is to cut yourself some slack. It’s a change that you have to accept and then manage as best you can.