Menopause: What To Expect & How To Prepare

Do you remember puberty? Of course you do; how could you forget that awkward period where you’re stuck between being a child and being an adult? The unforgettable dance of hormones that results in weird feelings, emotional and hormonal changes, and the feeling that the whole world just doesn't get you.

Well, hopefully this time around won't feel like such an existential crisis, but - brace yourself because a second puberty awaits you!

Sweating, weight fluctuations, mood swings, irregular periods, trouble sleeping and just feeling like something isn’t quite right. Both, physical and psychological changes that start occurring all of a sudden. These are just some of the common and early symptoms of menopause.

What is menopause?

Menopause, climacterium, or “second puberty” in simple words is just an inevitable part of life. It marks the end of menstruation and with that, the end of fertility in a woman’s life. It is a slow transition that occurs over the period of a few years, where the female hormones - estrogen and progesterone - are decreased. Your body slows down the process of producing these hormones, resulting in various of symptoms that ultimately lead to full infertility and no more periods.

When exactly does menopause occur?

Like we said, menopause is a slow transition and you don’t just wake up one day being in menopause. You will start feeling the symptoms and over time, your body will adjust to the new circumstances. The start of menopause is different for everyone, and it is believed that often women start experiencing symptoms at the same age their mothers did. However, it can occur anytime between mid 40s to mid 50s, although there’s an exception to this as well - as some may start experiencing symptoms as early as their 30s or as late as their 60s.

Various factors like chemotherapy, removal of the ovaries or even an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute in menopause occurring earlier in a woman’s life. However, a woman is officially considered to have entered menopause when her menstrual cycle has been absent for 12 months in a row.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary from one person to another, and while one woman can experience all of them on the list, some women go with only a few. In any case, the hormonal changes that happen in your body will most definitely give you a noticeable sign that you’re entering menopause.

The most common symptom is irregular periods. Slowly and over time, you will start skipping periods, until the point that they are no longer there. With this, your chances of fertility will also slowly decrease until they too, reach a point where it will not be possible to get pregnant anymore. This is also known as your biological clock that slowly stops as you get older, and maks pregnancy after 35 harder and risky for some women.

Other symptoms you may experience are:

  • Sweating
  • Mood swings
  • Irregular sleeping patterns/insomnia/hard time falling asleep
  • Fatigue and headaches
  • Decreased libido
  • Slow metabolism
  • Pain in your ankles - the decreased production of estrogen affects the bones, and it is really important to start a healthier lifestyle to avoid developing osteoporosis or even heart conditions due to this
  • Dryness of the skin and dryness of the vagina
  • Sweating at night
  • Feeling stressed, irritated and constantly on edge

If you start experiencing these symptoms, it is good to consult with your doctor and determine steps you need to take to ease the symptoms and make the transition as smooth as possible. Menopause can become a heavy emotional and physical burden, and in general, affect your health, so it is good to let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect menopause.

How to ease symptoms of menopause

  • Avoid unhealthy foods, alcohol and coffee (this is a given for any situation in which you want to remain healthy) - consume foods that contain estrogen (olives, chickpeas, soy, cale, celery, carrots)
  • Take vitamins - they are very important for your bones considering the fact that you’re not producing as much estrogen as you used to
  • Get active - try to be physically active at least 10-15 minutes a day, exercise is a natural mood booster and it will help you ease the symptoms of fatigue, nervousness and mood swings
  • Fish, seeds, lots of vegetables to keep the pH of your skin and vagina as optimal as possible
  • If you’re feeling sudden sweating and increase of your body temperature, this is normal. Meditation is a good activity to implement in your day to ease these symptoms, and practicing deep breathing during an episode of sudden heat can help you get out of it quickly

Love yourself

Getting our period and going into menopause are milestones that no woman will ever forget. The first time we were confused staring at menstrual products, wondering what to do, why we’re bloated - and all of a sudden all that is gone. Menopause can be a heavy experience for many of us, but this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t happen. Just like menstruation, it is a natural process, and we should allow ourselves to experience it gracefully. What we can do is make sure we increase the quality of our life, enjoy what life has in store for us and embrace ourselves with love and care.

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