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Symptoms of Menopause

menopausal MANAGE


When Estrogen Levels Drop you know those ambitious, entrepreneur types who like to dabble in just about everything? Well, your hormones are kind of like them. Sure, they're known for their reproductive prowess, but that's not their only role. They influence everything from your brain to your bones, even your heart. When estrogen levels start to fall during menopause, your entire body is affected. Whether your midlife change is smooth sailing or a wild, rollicking ride, menopause can have a wide-reaching effect on both your mental health and physical health.

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats For 85% of women, menopause can really heat things up -- and not in a good way. Though the exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, scientists think the drop in estrogen triggers a malfunction in the area of the brain that regulates the body's thermostat. When this happens, the brain thinks the body is overheating and tells the nervous system to release body heat ASAP. The result for you is intense hot spells that can turn you red and drench you in sweat. The quicker you go through menopause, the more intense your symptoms are likely to be. Smoking, being overweight, stress, and not exercising all increase the likelihood of hot flashes and night sweats. The good news is, only 20% of menopausal women will have hot flashes that impair their quality of life,

Insomnia; Getting a good night's sleep can be a major challenge for menopausal women. During the menopause transition, production of estrogen and progesterone (a sleep-promoting hormone) decline, which can make falling asleep tougher. Hot flashes, caused by a surge of the energy-boosting hormone adrenaline, can also jolt you awake. The physical discomfort and sheet drenching that often accompany night sweats, along with the stimulating effects of adrenaline, can keep you from falling back to sleep. Add to that the usual midlife stresses, such as work and family, and you can see why sleep may so often evade menopausal women.

Mood Swings ;Just as PMS can trigger chocolate cravings and crankiness, fluctuating hormone levels can cause emotional symptoms, too. "Women may cry at the drop of a hat over something that on a different day wouldn't bother them, Sadness, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, and aggressiveness are some of the feelings that can crop up along your journey. While most women go through menopause without serious emotional health issues, about 20% will experience depression. If you had mood swings before your monthly periods or if you had depression after giving birth, you may be more prone to mood issues during menopause.

Sexual Changes ;Menopause does not mean your sex life is over. A 2007 survey found that most people between the ages of 57 and 85 consider intimacy a vital part of their life. Still, midlife changes can pose new challenges. Lower levels of estrogen can cause vaginal walls to become dry, thin, and fragile, and sex may become less comfortable. Known as postmenopausal vaginal atrophy (sounds a lot worse than it is), the condition affects up to 50% of women. Vaginal creams and lubricants can ease discomfort during intercourse. In addition, remember that as you age, your partner's body changes, too. The ways in which you express intimacy and affection may not be the same as when you were 21, but can still be satisfying.

Urinary Trouble ;Feel like you're taking more trips to the bathroom than you used to? Pelvic floor muscles, which are responsible for bladder control, weaken as we get older. In addition, the ovaries begin to stop manufacturing estrogen, which helps protect the lining of the bladder and urethra (the tube that empties your urine). When the body slows production of estrogen, some women may become more prone to urinary tract infections or incontinence. That means you may have a tough time holding your bladder long enough to get to the bathroom (urinary urge incontinence), or you might experience a trickle when you cough, laugh, or sneeze (urinary stress incontinence).

Cardiovascular Changes ;On average, a woman's LDL (bad) cholesterol climbs 10.5 points, or 9%, during her midlife change. While a woman's risk for heart disease increases after age 50, it may have less to do with menopause and more to do with getting older,  It's really a product of age and lifestyle. However, hormonal changes during menopause can make it harder to maintain a healthy weight and may increase blood pressure -- both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Bone Loss ;Until the age of 30, bones form more quickly than they deteriorate, but by the age of 35, bone loss begins to outpace bone formation. Lower levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen, tend to weaken bones, which is why from the onset of menopause to the age of 60 women lose an average of 25% of their bone mass. The more bone you have at the time of peak bone mass, the better protected you'll be once bone loss begins. As your bones become weaker and more porous, your risk of fractures and osteoporosis goes up.

Brain Fog ;Feeling a little hazy lately? The so-called brain fog of menopause is real for some women, . During the change, between one- to two-thirds of women report forgetfulness and other mental hiccups. Peri menopausal women may have a tougher time staying focused, solving difficult tasks, or retaining new information. But don't despair, some studies suggest that these memory lapses last only as long as menopause. Think of it as pregnancy brain for the menopause set.

The Good News About Menopause ;While menopause can be a challenging rite of passage, if you are like many women, you may find there is an upside to this time of life -- often marked by a greater sense of confidence, control, and personal direction. There are many things you can do to make navigating menopause easier. Healthy habits and taking care of your physical and mental health -- including paying attention to and getting help for symptoms -- can make all the difference in how smoothly you pass through this time of change.

Natural Remedies for Menopause ;Feel like your hormones are staging a hostile takeover? Menopause and all its quirky symptoms can definitely make you feel like your body is not your own. One minute you're red-faced and sweaty; the next, you're crying over a kitty litter commercial. While hormone therapy may be the most effective medical treatment available for hot flashes, mood swings, and sexual symptoms, hormone replacement isn't without risks. "When treating menopause symptoms, lifestyle modification should always be your first-line approach,.

Put Hot Flashes and Night Sweats on Ice. Even a one-tenth degree rise in body temperature can spark a hot flash. "Simply lowering your home's thermostat makes a big difference.Layer clothing and wear wicking fabric as your base layer. Wicking materials pull sweat away from your skin, allowing the sweat to evaporate so you stay dry and chill-free. Remove layers when you heat up.

Watch What You Eat and Drink
Hot beverages, spicy foods, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can all instigate hot flashes, Keeping a diary of what you are doing or eating when a hot flash occurs can help you identify your triggers. For instance, if hot flashes always follow your morning coffee or tea, switch to iced tea. If sweat sessions still plague you, it might be the caffeine, so you may want to try decaf coffee or decaf tea instead. Keep a glass or bottle of ice-cold water on hand at all times to drink throughout the day. 

Consider Soy-Based Foods ;Even though the jury is still out on soy, some women may find it brings modest hot flash relie. One study found that women who took a daily 160 mg dose of soy isoflavones -- the active soy ingredient that mimics estrogen -- reported feeling better (emotionally, physically, and sexually) during menopause. However, studies have been inconclusive,  because "everybody's formulating it differently and using different doses of soy isoflavones, so it's tough to compare across trials." If you don't see an improvement within 12 weeks of adding soy to your diet, it's not worth continuing,Though soy isoflavones are considered safe for most women, those with a history of breast cancer may want to avoid it. Always talk with your doctor before taking any new supplement.

Boost Your Sexual Function ;Going through a dry spell can have more than one meaning for menopausal women. Thirty-nine percent of sexually active women over the age of 50 say vaginal dryness gets in the way of bedroom activities. Luckily, vaginal dryness is just as treatable as it is common. A recent survey found that genital pain was reported in less than 5 percent of sexual encounters when personal lubricant was used. It also made sex more satisfying and pleasurable. During sex and foreplay, experiment with oil-, silicone- or water-based lubricants.

Reduce Stress .Women complain that they have more hot flashes when they're stressed, Mind-body techniques may help reduce symptoms. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (a type of meditation), for instance, helps build resilience to hot flashes. In addition, deep breathing exercises, called paced breathing, may help regulate your body's temperature and decrease the amount of hot flashes you have by as much as 50%. Take slow, deep breaths from your belly at a rate of six to eight breaths per minute. Practice twice a day for 15 minutes, and any time you feel a hot flash coming on.

Get Regular Exercise ; Though you may think you're hot and sweaty enough without the help of a treadmill, exercise can help dial down the menopausal heat. Some women will find that physical activity and weight loss (if you're overweight) can be helpful, It's also one of the best stress busters out there. Even if they don't help with hot flashes, brisk walks and other physical activities can help reduce the emotional symptoms of menopause, such as irritability and depression, and offer other health benefits, including protecting against heart disease and bone loss. Strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate active each day.

Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles ;Feel like you're setting sprinting records when dashing for the loo? Dwindling estrogen levels can give some menopausal women bladder troubles, such as urinary incontinence. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises can help improve bladder control,. To perform a Kegel, squeeze as though you're trying to clench your vaginal walls together. Hold for five seconds, then release your muscles for five seconds. Do this exercise four or five times in a row. Aim for three sets of 10 each day. Need an added incentive to do your Kegel exercises? Building strong pelvic floor muscles can help boost the intensity of your orgasms, too.

Make Time for Sleep and Sex ;Did you know that low libido during menopause is linked to another type of trouble in the sack? We're talking about sleep issues! When you're exhausted, sex is the last thing on your mind, never mind your to-do list. If menopause symptoms are causing you to feel exhausted by the end of the day, forget about nighttime lovemaking. If you wait until bedtime to have sex, sleep will win out every time. Instead, take the pressure off of your libido and revive your sex life by choosing a time of day when you’re relaxed and well-rested, such as morning, early afternoon, or just after a bath or nap.

Hormone Therapy for Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, and More If used correctly, hormone therapy can provide relief from menopause symptoms -- but is it right for you?

Feel like the only thing that fluctuates more than your hormones is the consensus on hormone therapy? The truth is, hormone therapy -- used to manage menopausal symptoms -- is safe for many, but not all, women.
Hormone Therapy Keeps You Cool
If you're bothered by hot flashes or night sweats, systemic hormone therapy -- meaning it circulates through your body by way of a pill, skin patch, cream, gel, or spray -- is still the most effective medical treatment available.  (WHI) hormone therapy trials, only 20% of women have hot flashes that are serious enough to warrant hormone therapy. If you need relief and haven't undergone a hysterectomy, your doctor may prescribe combination hormone therapy: estrogen, plus progesterone (or progestin, a med that mimics progesterone). The purpose of adding progesterone to the mix is that estrogen, when taken alone, can raise the risk of endometrial cancer (a type of uterine cancer). Women who've had their uterus removed can be prescribed estrogen-only therapy.
Personally i feel the bottom line is If you're under age 60, within 10 years of entering menopause, and significantly bothered by hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or other symptoms, the benefits of hormone therapy may outweigh the risks. Every woman's circumstances are different and treatments can be highly individualized, so talk to your doctor about whether hormone therapy is right for you. 

The effects of hormones on the skin ; Oestrogen
  • Increases the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer of the epidermis.
  • Reduces the size and activity of the sebaceous glands.
  • Keeps sebaceous secretion thin and less fatty.
  • Slows the rate of hair growth.
  • Increases the action of the enzyme hyaluronidase, which produces hyaluronic acid.
  • Keeps the skin metabolically active.
  • It also appears to stimulate fibroblast activity however study is continuing into this area. (Fibroblasts contain oestrogen and produce hyaluronic acid.)
The influence of oestrogen is easily seen in womens skins. Its regulatory effect on the size and action of the sebaceous gland means that compared with men, women generally have finer pored and drier skins.Oestrogen also stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is one of the chief components of the base substance in the dermis and it enables the dermis to hold moisture. It provides the skin with its ability to resist stretching and keeps the skin firm and moist, giving it the smooth, soft feel we so often associate with the skin of a woman. Androgens, on the other hand, stimulate collagen production resulting in the stronger, coarser skin of a man.ProgesteroneThe skin contains receptors for progesterone but its action on the skin is unknown. However, it has been shown that progesterone can interfere with the action of oestrogen receptors in the skin.Androgens
  • Increase the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer of the epidermis.
  • Increase the size and activity of the sebaceous glands.
  • Increase collagen production through the stimulation of fibroblast cells to produce the proteins needed for collagen synthesis.
  • Increase hair growth.

  • The skin will appear dull, thin and finely wrinkled with some loss of tone.
  • Too much oestrogen causes pigmentation changes and the appearance of spider nevi.
  • The epidermis to become coarse and thick. The sebaceous glands enlarge and acne can develop. 
  • The skin can become dry and there is no facial, pubic or axillary hair. The skin can have a pallor due to fewer blood vessels and decreased pigment levels.

Lasers that build collagen.
Photo-rejuvenation with intense pulse light devices, or IPLs, also sends a signal to the skin to make more collagen. With these treatments, the texture and tone of the skin should all improve some. These are not dramatic but every little bit helps. Five monthly treatments should give you results, followed by once or twice a year for maintenance. Used over many years, they can help to maintain a youthful appearance to skin.

Injectables that build collagen. The only injectable that really builds collagen currently is Sculptra. Sculptra is a different form of lactic acid our muscles naturally produce. When it is injected, the Sculptra sends a signal to the cells that make collagen to make more of it. Gradually the Sculptra is absorbed by the body, just like lactic acid in our muscles. Patients end up with more collagen and more youthful skin. 

Lifestyle Change
By changing your daily habits and incorporating more healthful choices, the symptoms of the menopause can be greatly reduced. Exercise such as walking daily for 30 minutes or practicing stress-relieving exercises such as Yoga can be very helpful. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet high in B vitamins and fatty acids will also help you to feel better. Drinking plenty of water and taking a good multi-vitamin can also be of benefit to your changing body.

How Reflexology Can Support the Menopause Experience
Regular reflexology treatments can support a menopausal woman physically, mentally and emotionally. It can help a woman tune into her body’s needs, highlighting imbalances and areas which need attention. It can provide a safe space in which to relax, receive and be self-focused. Having an empathic reflexologist who understands the physical changes behind menopausal symptoms and takes her problems seriously can, in itself, relieve stress.

1 Comment to Symptoms of Menopause:

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