As women near the age of menopause, questions arise. This new phase of life brings with it many changes, not just in reproductive health but in relationship issues, family life, as well as quality of life. Seeking medical advice is always the best way to address these questions, because menopause is definitely an issue that changes from woman to woman. In other words, there is not a set example, as everyone experiences it somewhat differently.
Here are 8 FAQ about menopause that most women want answers about:
1. How can I tell if menopause has begun, and can it be delayed or stopped?
A missed period, or changes in the regularity, length, or flow of your periods is the most recorded sign of menopause, followed closely by experiencing hot flashes. Some women report that mood swings were the first hint of the process beginning, while others experienced difficulty in sleeping and/or night sweats.
Any one or several of these symptoms may apply to you as each woman is different. Menopause cannot be delayed or stopped once it starts. It will continue until the period of post-menopause is reached. To help determine when it may begin with you, ask your mother about her menopause timeline; yours will be almost the same.
2. Once any stage of menopause begins, should I be concerned about birth control?
Absolutely! Until you have missed twelve periods in a row, use birth control to prevent pregnancy.
Non-hormonal forms of birth control such as the diaphragm, cervical cap, condoms, or an IUD are possibilities.
Birth control pills are also recommended during menopause, but only if you are considered low risk. For example, women over the age of thirty-five who smoke and have other health factors such as a history or family history of diabetes, stroke, blood clots, breast cancer, and more are not advised to use birth control pills.
However, if you not have these risk factors, and your physician decides that it is safe for you to use birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, these little wonders may help with regulating your periods, reducing heavy flow, and lowering your risk for osteoporosis and uterine cancer. The hormones in birth control pills also provides an effective boost for your body.
3. What are the types of treatment for menopausal symptoms?
Hormone therapy is one form of treatment for menopausal symptoms, but it has come under great scrutiny in the last few years because of its link to health risks such as breast cancer. Today, HRT is only recommended for specific cases and certain women, and then only with a thorough consultation with a doctor. While this form may be great for one woman, it could be very destructive for another. Do not accept HRT without an in-depth discussion about possible side effects for you.
Alternative treatments for menopausal symptoms are also available. Such approaches include herbal supplements, such as Black Cohosh and Phytoestrogens, but are only recommended by doctors on a case-by-case basis. A healthy lifestyle comprised of exercise, a nutritious diet and hobbies to enjoy life is the best all-around alternative treatment.
4. How do I manage my erratic sex life and an uninformed partner?
One of the most difficult side effects of menopause is the havoc it wreaks on a woman’s sex life. Sexual experiences may fluctuate from very good to so-so, and from your wanting it to detesting the thought of it. Here are some points that may help ease this pressure for you.
Dealing with the emotions of a decreased libido can be challenging. The best practices are to exercise and eat a nutritious diet – keeping active and maintaining proper nutrition go a long way in dealing with libido issues, especially in menopause. Using medical creams to reduce vaginal dryness discomfort so you can enjoy sex is effective, but if necessary, consult your doctor to find out if medications can help to get those hormones back in balance.
Rejuvenating and maintaining your sexuality are very important during menopause – women feel less womanly during this time because of all the physical and emotional changes that come with it. Take care of your physical appearance by staying stylish. Do things that make you feel feminine and attractive, such as taking perfumed baths, buying a sexy outfit, or going to the salon.
Another perplexing side effect of menopause is the role of your partner and his or her lack of understanding what you are experiencing. These hints will be of help to you.
TALK! It is the first rule of thumb in addressing this issue. Tell your partner about the changes you are experiencing, and how he or she might help both of you through them.
Stay sexual – do not give up the tantalizing lingerie just because you have night sweats. Your partner will be more understanding if you make as few changes as possible.
Take the lead in copulation, even if you have to strain to do so. Make an attempt to have sex more often, share masturbation with your mate, flirt, surprise him or her with a sexy action, or share new information, such as no period for a couple of months. Above all, believe that you can remain sexy and sexually active for many, many years regardless of menopause.
5. What can I expect with hot flashes and how do I manage them?
Hot flashes are a general flushing of the face, ear, and neck areas, which usually last from thirty seconds to five minutes, but the intensity of the flashes vary from time to time and from woman to woman. Flashes may include light to severe sweating, they can occur anytime, and cause a very distinct feeling that is different from when one is just warm from the weather. They can also be embarrassing, as the woman experiencing them feels that others know what her body is up to. Taking these flashes in stride with a little humor can help to offset the embarrassment.
Managing hot flashes will not result in their disappearance, but there are steps that can help to ease them. Dressing in layers and removing a layer or two when a flash comes is a very handy method of easing the flash’s impact, as is using a fan or air conditioner. Other ways to reduce the impact of a flash is to practice relaxation techniques and paced-breathing, and to consume cold drinks and food. You should also avoid spicy food, and keep stress at a minimum.
6. Is clinical depression common during menopause? How can it be managed?
Clinical depression is not a common side effect of menopause, but it may develop in rare cases or surge in others. Such depression usually results from the woman having a prior history of depression, or if she is feeling negative about menopause and the aging process. Other forces unrelated to menopause, like financial or relationship problems, can foster clinical depression during menopause when things just seem to become magnified. A low self-esteem and overwhelming feelings of sadness can also lead to clinical depression, usually brought on by a lack of a social support system.
Managing clinical depression during menopause must begin with a medical evaluation to confirm it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, exercise, and ample rest are the first steps to try as a management practice. Joining a support group that offers uplifting interactions with other women who are in menopause can be very effective too. On the advice of your doctor, it may be helpful to consider taking an anti-depressant medication.
7. What physical changes can I expect with menopause?
No matter what, there will be some physical changes with the onset of menopause – they will vary, but they will come. Here are some of the most common ones:
Weight gain around the waistline is practically inevitable, but paying attention to your diet and practicing set exercise routines will limit the brunt of it.
Bone weakening and loss of bone mass, a decrease in muscle tone and strength, hair loss or hair growth and poor skin elasticity are also common side effects of menopause, all of which affect your physical appearance.
Changes in your vision and problems with memory functions are physical changes that may inhibit your daily activities, both of which are noticeable to others.
Bladder dysfunction and an increased risk of urinary complications are very common physical changes that may cause embarrassment and the need for extra measures, such as wearing incontinence pads when away from home or while sleeping.
8. Will menopause last forever?
Thankfully, the answer to this question is a thunderous NO! Research points toward a duration of three to five years to become postmenopausal, although some limited side effects may remain for a little while. It may seem impossible while you are going through menopause, but life will return to normal – just have faith and look forward to a new, more carefree life when it is over.
Undoubtedly, there are many more questions individual women will have about menopause, but the above are the most common. The best advice is to get educated about this life experience, pay attention to your body and its changes, and know the menopausal history of your mother – yours will be very similar to hers. Above all, seek the advice of your doctor regarding menopause, and how you can best manage the symptoms based on your experience and medical history. There will be a life after menopause – just remember that!