Do any of these strange symptoms apply to you?
- My jeans won’t button.
- My period is wacky (irregular, heavier/lighter, absent)
- My skin has lost its glow and my hair is dull.
- I’m no longer interested in sex, and when I do my vagina is like the Sahara.
- I’m getting my grandma’s crepey skin.
- My sleep is poor.
- Since when do I snore?
- I’m forgetful and feel like I’m in a fog sometimes.
- My joints are stiff.
- I’m irritable for no reason.
- My internal thermostat is broken. I get random sweats and an overwhelming sense of heat for no reason at all.
If any of the above sound familiar, you may be entering menopause. You’re not crazy or ill, it’s just the natural process of your ovaries shutting down. Many women trade the relief of no more periods or worry of pregnancy for a host of these other symptoms.
What is Menopause?
Menopause technically begins 12 months after a woman’s final menstrual period, so it really can only be diagnosed after it has happened. However, the time leading up to that is called perimenopause.
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause may begin as much as 10 years before menopause, during which time women may begin to notice changes in their health and well-being. Some women experience no symptoms at all, while others are plagued by:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary symptoms
- Brain fog
- Poor sleep
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Changes in mood
During this time period, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone gradually decrease, and the ovaries stop releasing eggs. Menopause can also be triggered by surgical removal of the ovaries or certain cancer treatments which may affect the ovaries.
Typically, your provider can diagnose perimenopause by your symptoms, and a blood test isn’t needed. In fact, testing hormone levels is often misleading, as these hormone levels vary greatly during perimenopause.
It is also important to remember that those sputtering ovaries can still kick out an occasional egg, so pregnancy can still occur during perimenopause.
How to get help.
While all of this may sound like a horror show to you, know that you aren’t alone. The hot flashes, poor sleep, and mood changes will slowly improve over time, and some lifestyle changes can be helpful in the meantime.
Depending upon the severity of your symptoms and your risk factors, there may even be some medication options. Your provider can discuss your personal menopause plan with you and may be able to offer help or advice.
Remember, menopause is not a disorder or a disease. You can still live your best life during menopause, and a positive attitude toward these changes can make a difference.
Consider menopause to be a new beginning, a time where healthy choices and a focus on your overall health can lead to greater satisfaction.
Call today to discuss you symptoms or concerns with your Women’s Health provider 507-646-1478.