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Menopause Challenges – Navigating Symptoms And Treatment Options

Written by: Sasa Evans, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Sasa Evans

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It occurs when a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs, and her menstrual cycles come to an end. Menopause is usually diagnosed when a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period.

Middle-aged woman cooling herself with hand fan

The average age for menopause in the United States is 51, but it can happen in a woman's 40s or 50s. Menopause can also be induced by certain medical treatments, such as the removal of the ovaries or chemotherapy. I had two ectopic pregnancies and as a result had an early onset of menopause at 35.


During menopause, a woman's body undergoes significant changes, including a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones. These hormonal changes can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.


It is important to note that menopause affects each woman differently. Some women may experience few or no symptoms, while others may have more severe symptoms that significantly impact their quality of life. Understanding the symptoms of menopause and how they can be managed is key to maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle during this transition.


To manage menopause symptoms, women can make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and practicing stress-reduction techniques like meditation or yoga. Hormone therapy may also be used to alleviate symptoms, but it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare provider before beginning any treatment.


Physical challenges of menopause


Hot flashes


Hot flashes are one of the most well-known symptoms of menopause. They are characterized by a sudden feeling of heat that spreads throughout the body, often accompanied by sweating and flushing of the skin. Hot flashes can be mild or severe, and they can last from a few seconds to several minutes. They can occur at any time of the day or night, and they can disrupt sleep and daily activities.


Sleep disturbances


Sleep disturbances are another common physical challenge of menopause. Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to insomnia, night sweats, and other sleep disorders. Women may find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up feeling rested. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, irritability, and other health problems.


Vaginal dryness


Vaginal dryness is a common problem that affects many women during menopause. It occurs when the body produces less estrogen, which can lead to thinning and drying of the vaginal tissues. This can cause discomfort, itching, burning, and pain during sexual intercourse. Vaginal dryness can also increase the risk of vaginal infections and urinary tract infections.


In conclusion, menopause can be a challenging time for many women, both physically and emotionally. Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness are just a few of the physical challenges that women may experience during this time. However, with the right treatment and support, women can manage these symptoms and maintain their overall health and well-being.


Psychological challenges


Psychological challenges are common among women going through menopause, and can include mood swings, depression, and anxiety.


Mood swings


Mood swings are a common psychological challenge that women going through menopause may experience. Hormonal changes during menopause can cause mood swings, which can range from mild to severe. Women may feel irritable, angry, sad, or anxious for no apparent reason. Mood swings can be triggered by physical symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness, as well as by life stressors such as work, family, or relationship problems.


Depression


Depression is another psychological challenge that women going through menopause may experience. Depression can be caused by hormonal changes, as well as by other factors such as genetics, life stressors, and past trauma. Women may experience symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Depression can be treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of both.


Anxiety


Anxiety is a common psychological challenge that women going through menopause may experience. Anxiety can be caused by hormonal changes, as well as by other factors such as genetics, life stressors, and past trauma. Women may experience symptoms such as excessive worry, fear, nervousness, and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, and trembling. Anxiety can be treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of both.


In conclusion, psychological challenges are common among women going through menopause. Mood swings, depression, and anxiety are some of the most common psychological challenges that women may experience. Women who are experiencing psychological symptoms during menopause should talk to their healthcare provider to get the help and support they need.


Sexual challenges


Menopause can bring about several sexual challenges for women. The decrease in estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness, which can lead to discomfort or pain during sexual activity. This can also reduce sexual desire and arousal, making it harder to achieve orgasm.


Additionally, menopause can lead to changes in the genital area, including thinning of the vaginal walls and decreased elasticity. This can result in increased risk of vaginal infections and urinary tract infections.

It is important for women to communicate with their partners about these changes and work together to find solutions. This can include the use of lubricants during sexual activity, as well as exploring different techniques and positions to find what works best for both partners.


In some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be recommended to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with menopause. However, it is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of HRT with a healthcare provider before starting treatment.


Overall, while menopause can bring about sexual challenges, there are ways to address these issues and maintain a healthy and satisfying sex life.


Menopause and chronic conditions


Menopause is also associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions. According to a study published in JAMA, the rate of many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, cancer, and bone fractures, increases in the years following menopause.


One reason for this increased risk is the decline in estrogen levels that occurs during menopause. Estrogen is a hormone that plays a role in maintaining bone density, cardiovascular health, and cognitive function. As estrogen levels decline, women may be at increased risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, and cognitive decline.


Another factor that may contribute to the increased risk of chronic conditions during menopause is lifestyle factors. Women may be more likely to develop unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking, and a sedentary lifestyle, during menopause. These habits can increase the risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.


To reduce the risk of chronic conditions during menopause, women can take steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This may include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Women may also consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause and reduce the risk of chronic conditions.


However, HRT is not appropriate for everyone, and women should discuss the risks and benefits of HRT with their healthcare provider. Women who have a history of breast cancer, blood clots, or other health conditions may not be able to take HRT. In these cases, women may need to explore alternative treatments, such as non-hormonal medications or lifestyle changes.


Lifestyle adjustments


While there are medical treatments available to manage menopausal symptoms, lifestyle adjustments can also play a crucial role in easing the transition.


Diet


A healthy and balanced diet can help women manage menopausal symptoms. It is recommended to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the diet and reduce the intake of processed and high-fat foods. Women should also try to consume more calcium and vitamin D-rich foods, such as dairy products, leafy greens, and fish, to maintain bone health.


Exercise


Regular exercise can help women manage menopausal symptoms and improve overall health. It is recommended to engage in moderate-intensity activities, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, for at least 30 minutes a day. Strength training exercises can also help maintain muscle mass and bone density.


Sleep


Getting adequate sleep is crucial for managing menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood changes. Women should try to establish a regular sleep routine and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bedtime. Creating a comfortable sleeping environment, such as keeping the bedroom cool and dark, can also promote better sleep.


Stress management


Stress can exacerbate menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood changes. Women should try to manage stress through relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Engaging in enjoyable activities, such as hobbies or socializing with friends, can also help reduce stress levels.


Skin and oral health


Menopause can affect skin and oral health. Women should try to avoid smoking, stress, and overexposure to sunlight, which can dry out the skin. Practicing good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing regularly and visiting the dentist regularly, is also crucial for maintaining oral health.


Conclusion


Menopause can be a challenging time for women due to the physical and emotional symptoms that they experience. However, with the right information and support, women can manage their symptoms and maintain their quality of life.


The information needs of menopausal women are diverse, and it is essential to identify their health information needs to help them manage this event. Studies have shown that menopausal women require information on various topics, including symptom management, hormone therapy, and lifestyle changes. Health care providers should provide accurate and relevant information to menopausal women to help them make informed decisions about their health.


Social determinants of health can also impact menopausal women's experiences. Women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds may have different experiences during menopause. It is crucial to address these social determinants of health to provide equitable care to menopausal women.


In conclusion, menopause is a natural event that women experience in middle age. It can be a challenging time, but with the right information and support, women can manage their symptoms and maintain their quality of life. Health care providers should provide accurate and relevant information to menopausal women, taking into account their diverse information needs and social determinants of health.

Want more strategies to support you during this time check out this article.


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Sasa Evans Brainz Magazine
 

Sasa Evans, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sasa Evans is a holistic mindset and life coach for women who want more confidence and transformation in their lives. Sasa had a very emotionally abusive first marriage which had a damaging effect on her mindset, and it took her a long time to regain her confidence and create a life she desired. She realised that emotional abuse does not leave visible scars and people tend to hide it, even though they are hurting. Her passion is to empower women to take positive steps to rebuild self-confidence with determined passion, unconstrained self-belief, and have absolute joy in their life. She is CEO of Sasa Evans coaching, and an accredited life coach, certified Reiki practitioner and holistic modalities coach.



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