Here’s what they don’t tell you about menopause

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. While some aspects of menopause are widely discussed, there are certain things that may not be commonly known or openly discussed.

Here are some things that people may not tell you about menopause:

Perimenopause

Before reaching menopause, many women experience perimenopause, a transitional phase lasting for several years. During this time, hormone levels fluctuate, leading to irregular periods and various physical and emotional symptoms.

Hormonal changes

Menopause is characterised by a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormonal changes can affect various aspects of a woman’s health, including bone density, heart health and vaginal health.

Hot flashes and night sweats

Hot flashes are one of the most well-known symptoms of menopause. They involve a sudden feeling of warmth, often accompanied by sweating, flushing and an increased heart rate. Night sweats, which are intense hot flashes that occur during sleep, can disrupt sleep patterns.

Mood swings and emotional changes

Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can impact a woman’s mood and emotions. Many women experience mood swings, irritability, anxiety and even depression during this time. Seeking support and talking to healthcare professionals is essential if these emotional changes become overwhelming.

Vaginal dryness and discomfort

The decline in estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness, itching and discomfort during intercourse. These changes can affect sexual function and satisfaction. Using water-based lubricants or estrogen-based creams prescribed by a healthcare professional can help alleviate these symptoms.

Changes in sexual desire

Menopause can also affect a woman’s sexual desire or libido. Some women may experience a decrease in sex drive due to hormonal changes, while others may find their libido increases. Open communication with your partner and healthcare provider can help navigate these changes.

Urinary issues

Menopause can increase the risk of urinary problems, such as urinary incontinence and recurrent urinary tract infections. Hormonal changes and weakening pelvic floor muscles can contribute to these issues. Pelvic floor exercises and seeking medical advice can help manage these symptoms.

Weight gain and metabolism changes

As women age and go through menopause, there may be a shift in body composition, including a tendency to gain weight, particularly around the abdomen. Hormonal changes and a decrease in muscle mass can affect metabolism. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and strength training can help manage weight changes.

Sleep disturbances

Menopausal women often experience difficulties with sleep. Night sweats, hormonal fluctuations, and psychological factors can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to insomnia. Practising good sleep hygiene, creating a comfortable sleep environment and seeking professional help, if needed, can promote better sleep.

Long-term health considerations

Menopause is a significant milestone and it’s important to consider its impact on long-term health. Hormonal changes can increase the risk of certain health conditions, including osteoporosis, heart disease and cognitive decline. Regular check-ups, a healthy lifestyle, and discussing potential preventive measures with healthcare professionals are crucial.

Every woman’s experience with menopause is unique and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary. If you’re going through menopause or approaching this stage, it’s important to seek support from healthcare professionals, educate yourself about the changes happening in your body, attend support groups in your area and make choices that prioritise your wellbeing.

Further reads below.

WATC Menopause Support   |    NHS   |   Menopause Support   |   The Menopause Charity

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