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The Menopause Series: Part 2-Menopause

Hi 40fyd sisters! This month, we continue our needed "Menopause Series" looking at Menopause and things women should expect. Right now we know more women than not experiencing menopause, including close friends, family and colleagues. However, it's a rare conversation in most of our personal circles. It's important to share any information we can with one another to best transition into this difficult phase of 40fyd+ life. Here's a bit of information about the menopause phase we should be aware of.

Let's first define menopause:

True menopause doesn't happen until one year after a woman’s final menstrual period. Menopause marks the end of your period and your reproductive years. It usually affects women between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can happen earlier. Menopause can happen naturally, or after the surgical removal of the ovaries or the uterus. Chemotherapy can also trigger menopause and sometimes there may be a genetic reason as well.

This stage of life can be extremely emotional for us. Weight gain, joint pain and lack of sleep impact most women during this time. Mood swings are another common symptom, triggered by low estrogen levels that lead to: irritability, anxiety, and depression. As such, moods can change quickly impacting socialization, personal relationships and ones quality of life. Studies show that women are two to four times more likely to experience a major depressive episode during menopause than at other times in their lives.

Common physical symptoms of menopause include:

  • hot flushes, when you have sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest which can make you dizzy

  • difficulty sleeping, which may be a result of night sweats and make you feel tired and irritable during the day

  • palpitations, when your heartbeats suddenly become more noticeable

  • headaches and migraines that are worse than usual

  • muscle aches and joint pains

  • changed body shape and weight gain

  • skin changes including dry and itchy skin

  • reduced sex drive

  • vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex

  • recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) *

The good news is there is help for many of these symptom. Some specialists may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or hormone therapy available in pills, creams, patches, injections, or pellets. Discuss more with your physician to see what might work best for you.

Things you do right away:

  1. Increase your Vitamin D intake: A lack of estrogen weakens your bones as you age; vitamin D works to slow down and minimize the weakening process

  2. Exercise regularly: Prevent weight gain, as menopausal women tend to lose muscle mass and gain abdominal fat

  3. Stabilize blood sugar throughout the day: Helps decrease the risk of diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, which is brought on by excessive weight gain

  4. Establish a healthy "clean diet: A whole-foods diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein and dairy products may reduce menopause symptoms

  5. Drink plenty of water: Water helps with bloating as well and maintains hormone levels. This in turn helps with the mood swings as well

  6. Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars: Drinking caffeine and sugary drinks (as well as sugary foods) can lead to a hot flashes and sweating

  7. Make sleep a priority: Lack of sleep can cause or contribute to anxiety and depression

  8. Try a richer moisturizer: In menopause, skin loses some ability to hold water, so skin can get dry

Tune in next month, to learn more about how to advance your health after menopause with tips, suggestions and lifestyle changes for a better quality of life. If you have a question you'd like us to feature here, please email us at Subject: The Menopause Series.

*Sources: National Institute of Aging.

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