“Wow, is there really an International Menopause Day?” You may be wondering. But the fact is that we spend a lifetime knowing almost nothing about this phase, we don’t learn at school (we barely learn about pregnancy!), And the most we know many times was seeing our mothers and grandparents experiencing their symptoms. By the time she arrives (and the symptoms can come years before menopause, which is declared only after 12 months without menstruating), we find ourselves confused, without really understanding what is happening.
I did a quick poll with women on my Instagram profile (follow me there too @silviaruizmanga): 77% said they did not feel well informed about or prepared to deal with menopause.
It is true that the symptoms can vary a lot from woman to woman, both in frequency and intensity, but in general, almost all will experience at least some of them: heat, mental fog, memory problems, weight gain, palpitations, mood swings, low libido, vaginal dryness, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and joints. Ufa!
But what we have to keep in mind is that it doesn’t have to be so terrible and difficult, there are solutions today that can help, and a lot. The first step is to normalize this phase and empower ourselves with information to deal with it. Any taboo that accompanies the end of reproductive age must stop being thrown under the rug. Here are some things to know:
- Symptoms can last up to 7 years or more
We are only considered at menopause after 12 consecutive months without menstruating. But this is a gradual process that starts to happen 3 to 4 years before, without you realizing it because you are still menstruating (a blood test can test whether hormone rates are falling). This period is called perimenopause. It is possible that menstruation is more spaced or until excessive bleeding occurs. At this stage, if symptoms appear, it is already possible to start treating. The most common is hormone replacement therapy, I already talked about it here.
After menopause, symptoms can also continue for some time until finally the body adapts to the lack of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, and also to testosterone, the male hormone.
2) Heat is no exception
A study carried out in the USA shows that up to 80% of women in perimenopause and 65% in postmenopause go through what is a classic symptom. The low estrogen is to blame, which makes our body’s “thermostat” more sensitive to any change in our temperature. And it ends up creating a chain reaction giving wrong messages for this temperature to regulate. The result can be very uncomfortable especially at dawn, disrupting sleep.
In addition to hormone replacement, it is important to avoid triggers such as stress, coffee and hot drinks, spicy foods. Physical activity also helps the body to cope better with this and other symptoms. Move yourself!
- Your mental health can also be affected. The symptoms of menopause can be disturbing and, coupled with the emotional burden that we women tend to go through at this age, can have a major impact on our mental health. It’s not freshness! It’s real. We have demands from teenage children or children, elderly parents, old marriages that can go into crisis, among others. Be sure to seek help if you feel you are not meeting the demand. Therapy can be important at this stage. And exchanging experiences with friends or other women living the same as us is also a great comfort. A balanced diet and exercise are also essential not only for the physical part, but also for mental health. Try hiking outdoors. Breathing exercises and meditation are also great allies.
- No, your sex life is not over! Yes, the drop in estrogen causes our skin as a whole and the mucous membranes to become drier. And the vagina, in addition to being less lubricated, is less “elastic”, which can cause great discomfort during sex. But there are solutions. Hormone replacement therapy is one of them, but there are also local lubricants with and without hormones that can be prescribed by a doctor. A recent therapy, which has been used by ginecologists and even dermatologists and brings positive results. It is called laser intimate therapy. So, don’t let menopause bring you down, get help from a specialist. The lack of libido also has a solution, it depends more on other factors that go beyond the hormonal issue, I have already talked about how to improve sexual desire here.
- Watch out, you can still get pregnant! A close friend, after spending months with irregular menstruation in perimenopause, thought he would never get pregnant at 48. He almost fell off his chair when looking for a doctor with nausea thinking it was gastritis. It was pregnancy. This is a more common situation than you might think, so it is necessary to continue using contraceptive methods at this stage. Ovulation, even if irregular, can continue to happen.
- Menopause affects much more than our reproductive capacity Estrogen is a hormone that has a major impact on various processes in the body. It affects from the production and distribution of fat to the thyroid, energy levels, sleep, mood. That’s why it’s so common women gain more centimeters at the waist and accumulate belly fat. The fault is the lack of estrogen, in good part. Estrogen is also a heart protector and its lack makes our arteries less flexible. It also protects our bones and joints. That is why we no longer have the option of “letting life take us” when we get close to menopause. For us to prevent these risks, lifestyle care needs to be increased. It is simple, but obviously requires discipline: eating lots of vegetables and fruits, reducing sugar and flour to the minimum possible, managing stress, regular physical activity, taking care of sleep hygiene. And Happy Menopause Day! May it be brief. He sees.