Feeling hot - but grumpy?

You’re feeling hot – actually too hot, but also very emotional and grumpy. You might be thinking, what is going on with me?  Could it be menopause already? Are my best years behind me? Don’t be intimidated by menopause - it doesn’t make you less of a woman. Aug2016_Article_1_k.png

Menopause is a natural biological process but doesn’t mean you’re the picture perfect old lady wearing sensible shoes with hair in a tight bun. The average woman can have decades of a vibrant life after she reached menopause. Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period. It marks the end of menstrual cycles and can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51.

Common perimenopause and menopause symptoms are:

  • Irregular periods
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue/ loss of energy
  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Forgetfulness or foggy thinking
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Vaginal dryness & Pain with intercourse
  • Joint discomfort /stiffness
  • Inflammation
  • Food cravings
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety and/or sadness
  • Irritability and/or moodiness
  • Weight gain especially around the waist and hips

Women approaching menopause may experience some or most of the above symptoms; it varies from person to person, depending on their hormone levels and lifestyle patterns, but the most common symptoms are:

Hot Flushes

Three out of every four menopausal women have hot flushes. They’re characterised by a sudden feeling of heat which seems to come from nowhere and spreads through your body.  It includes, sweating, palpitations and a red flush (blushing) and vary in severity from woman to woman. Some women only have occasional hot flushes which don’t really bother them at all, while others report 20 hot flushes a day that are uncomfortable, disruptive and embarrassing. Hot flushes may continue for several years after your last period – even into your 70s or 80s.

More headaches

The changes in hormone levels may cause worse headaches than ever before. If you previously had headaches around the time of menstruation, you will most likely suffer from headaches during menopause. One good thing though, is that after hormone levels have stabilised, the headaches may stop completely.

Disturbed sleeping patterns

Getting enough sleep can be difficult during menopause as a result of hot flushes. To improve your sleep, try setting a regular bed time, and do not to watch TV in bed or just before bedtime.

Mood swings

As ovarian hormone levels decrease, your mood might be affected by this, causing mood swings unlike anything you’re used to. As a result, women are more prone to depression, anger or tears. Another possible cause of mood changes can be attributed to the lack of sleep.

Vaginal dryness

Experiencing dryness, itchiness, discharge and pain are only some of the effects that may be caused by the declining levels of estrogen due to menopause. It is always wise to consult your healthcare practitioner - do not assume that these symptoms are necessarily caused by menopause.

Sex drive

You may either experience a diminished desire for sex or a greater sex drive than you’re used to. If your passion increases- embrace it! Don’t give in to hopelessness if it declines. If you’re willing to put more conscious thought into your sex life by spicing it up or being creative, you might just find that you have entered a new and different sexual stage of life.

Fortunately, many of the signs and symptoms associated with menopause are temporary. Take these steps to help reduce or prevent their effects:

  • Cool hot flushes. Dress in layers, have a cold glass of water or go somewhere cooler. Try to pinpoint what triggers your hot flushes. For many women, triggers may include hot beverages, caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, stress, hot weather and even a warm room.
  • Decrease vaginal discomfort. Use over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricants such as K-Y jelly or moisturizers such as Replens. Choose products that don't contain glycerin, which can cause burning or irritation in women who are sensitive to that chemical. Staying sexually active also helps by increasing blood flow to the vagina.
  • Get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine, which can make it hard to get to sleep, and avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can interrupt sleep. Exercise during the day, although not right before bedtime. If hot flushes disturb your sleep, you may need to find a way to manage them before you can get adequate rest.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Techniques such as deep breathing, paced breathing, guided imagery, massage and progressive muscle relaxation can help relieve menopausal symptoms.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit saturated fats, oils and sugars. Ask your healthcare provider if you need calcium or vitamin D supplements to help meet daily requirements.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer and a range of other health problems. It may also increase hot flushes and bring on earlier menopause.
  • Exercise regularly. Get regular physical activity or exercise on most days to help protect against heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions associated with aging.

Sources:
mayoclinic.org
webmd.com
nhs.uk

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