Updated: Aug 18
Menopausal symptoms are unavoidable for the majority of us, and while menopause is natural, nothing about it feels normal. Menopause has an impact on everything from our sleep to our mood to our heart health.
The Reality of Menopause
Menopause occurs when you have gone exactly one year without having a period. If you had your period in February and it returns in September, you are not in menopause. Purgatory, or the limbo known as perimenopause, is where your hormones are sputtering out and occasionally waking up to do their job. The menopause dance has begun as your hormones swing.
Hot flashes are frequently the most troublesome symptom but don't underestimate the life-changing consequences of:
Mood fluctuations that are dramatic
Fog in the mind
Distraction and forgetfulness
Rising anxiety or deep depression?
Serious sleep problems
Then there are the palpitations in the heart.
Although everyone is different, one of the most significant changes that women experience as they approach and enter menopause has to do with the effects of oestrogen. Estrogen is the loving and caring hormone, and it is at its peak between puberty and menopause. After menopause, your body stops producing oestrogen. This can result in heart palpitations.
Palpitations are common during hot flashes in menopause. Other possible causes of palpitations include:
Exercising under stress
Use of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
Some cough and cold medications, as well as asthma inhalers
Menopause Has an Impact on Sleep and Heart Health
Sleep problems do not occur in a vacuum. They are frequently linked to – or cause – overeating and weight gain, weariness, moodiness, and aggression.
Sleep deprivation can cause high blood pressure and obesity, both of which can contribute to diabetes. It's also linked to heart problems.
Make the following changes to help you sleep better:
1. Caffeine should be avoided. Remember that it can be found in various teas, coffee, chocolate, and even pharmaceuticals. It can also remain in your bloodstream for up to 20 hours, keeping you awake.
2. Avoid alcohol. It may induce sleep for a short period of time, but it may later lead you to wake up early or create restless sleep.
3. Get back to basics with daily exercise, modest nibbles of lean protein and carbohydrates before bed, and a regular sleep-inducing routine.
4. Make your bedroom a haven of serenity and tranquillity. Leave the madness outside the door and turn it into a gloomy cave where you can retreat.
Headaches, particularly migraine headaches, are typical symptoms of menopause. It's all a part of the hormonal dance. Migraines have been related to hormonal changes in particular.
A migraine can cause difficulty with light, nausea or vomiting, and occasionally an aura, or visual abnormalities that precede the pain. You may notice lights, wavy lines, or other anomalies. You may experience difficulty speaking, as well as numbness and tingling.
Consult a doctor if your symptoms are severe. Aura symptoms have been related to a higher risk of stroke later in life. Menstrual migraines, on the other hand, are generally merely a pain in the brain that requires treatment now but will go away when menopause arrives.
Tension headaches may also become more common after menopause. These are easy to cope with and are frequently a result of emotional and hormonal stress. You may discover that sleep, a bath, some exercise or yoga, a good hearty weeping session, or simply popping a few of naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin, or whatever you find jammed into the corners at the bottom of your purse can help you deal with them.
Could You Be Suffering From Menopause Brain?
The so-called "menopause brain" is well-known. It's the sudden inability to focus... forgetfulness... difficulties with word recall... as well as cognitive fog It may appear to be dementia, but it is actually caused (along with so many other unpleasant things) by fluctuating hormones.
If you're having difficulty recalling all the intricacies of life that you used to know instantaneously – the ones that made you the quick-witted, go-to person for information like names, dates, times, and locations – these abrupt "senior moments" can be unpleasant and even scary. Menopause brain is a passing phase. You can alleviate it by getting back to basics: consume nutritious foods, limit your alcohol consumption, and exercise.
Do what you need to do to stay healthy. Breathe. Make healthy decisions. Talk to friends, a therapist, the woman next door in her 70s who remembers when it occurred to her, or, if necessary, a psychiatrist. Keep some ibuprofen on hand. Above all, keep informed and proactive.
Understand Your Numbers
If you haven't had a "well-woman" doctor visit (aka yearly physical) in a while, now is the moment. Aside from a physical examination by your doctor, it should include the following basic screening tests:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, and the risk increases roughly 10 years after menopause as risk factors increase and protective oestrogen declines. You will be more likely to acquire weight and have an increasing waistline. You know these things happen, so prepare by eating a healthy diet and doing frequent exercise. You have power over this process!
Examine Your Bones
Another menopausal truth: the decrease in oestrogen that occurs with menopause causes a decrease in bone density. Examine your bone density! This is the time to eat healthily, obtain enough calcium and vitamin D, and stress your bones just enough to keep them repairing – this may be done by walking or jogging.
Muscle mass helps to develop bone, however, smoking and some drugs can reduce bone density. A DEXA scan will determine your risk of osteopenia (low bone density) and osteoporosis (significant reduction in bone density). When you lose bone density, you are more likely to fracture, which can cause serious health problems, especially in women over 65. Don't give up: it's critical for your long-term happiness.
When you understand what's going on in your body, you'll have a far better understanding of how to answer the question, "Who do you want to be in the second half of your life?"
Someone bright and active, full of health and vigour, who can fearlessly enter her life to see what awaits her... beyond parenting or caregiving... beyond being a wife or partner... beyond the limitations of those early years?
Menopause is not the end of the world. It marks the beginning of a new era in one's life. Menopause is not the end of a woman's life. Menopause is the start of self-care, self-nurturing, and self-fulfilment.
Steinbaum, S. (n.d.). WebMD Blogs. WebMD. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://blogs.webmd.com/heart-health/20220419/what-your-mother-never-told-you-about-menopause