Menopause, Perimenopause, and Myths
Menopause can be a confusing time for many of us. We want to be informed with the facts so life doesn’t have to be such a roller-coaster ride.
Our mothers often never talked about it. It has been said if you want to know what you will go through with menopause, ask your mom and generally you should have a similar experience!
Menopause is not a one-size-fits-all condition. Women cannot predict when they will experience it, nor can they make it end more quickly.
So, what does happen?
Does every woman experience every symptom?
When it comes down to it, many women don’t know all the facts, and there are many myths about it all. So let's get some factual information to help with the process.
Stages leading up to Menopause
There are three stages:
- Pre-menopause: Women have full ovarian function, regularly produce estrogen, and ovulate.
- Perimenopause: The ovaries begin to fluctuate in their ovulation and production of estrogen, which can result in unpredictable menstrual cycles and symptoms.
- Menopause: The ovaries stop making estrogen. After 12 months without menstruation, Welcome to Menopause!
Perimenopause and Menopause
The average age of menopause is 51, and perimenopausal symptoms typically begin about four years before your final period, but it all depends on genetics and lifestyle. Many women start to notice perimenopause symptoms in their 40s. But perimenopause can happen a little earlier or later, too. The best predictor of when your final period will be is the age at which your mother entered menopause (if she didn't have a hysterectomy).
Declining estrogen levels can keep you up at night, deflate your libido, and thin out your hair. It can also cause hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and many other perimenopausal symptoms. The type and intensity of symptoms vary greatly among women – some just feel a little off or don't notice anything at all.
Other symptoms may include heart palpitations, irritability, urinary incontinence, facial hair growth and osteoporosis. Due to the lack of estrogen, many post-menopausal women are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and bone loss.
Myth - The symptoms are all physical
Sadly not. There are lots of emotional, psychological, and sexual symptoms. Depression/anxiety/panic attacks and mood changes are common, affecting every aspect of life. And the impact of sleeplessness or insomnia causes everything to be magnified and amplified.
The ability to think clearly, find words and concentrate are often lost, being described as brain fog.
Myth - Menopause only affects women
Technically it does, but while menopause as a process certainly affects only women, men are affected by it too! Men see their partner/sister/mother suffer the symptoms, and relationships could become difficult. The women they love may not function quite the same way as mothers and partners with the emotional upheavals from lack of estrogen.
Children and siblings can also be affected. Several women have said they feel that they are turning into their menopausal mothers, angry and screaming at their kids for no reason, and that they do not want to be that woman. That is often what encourages them to seek help.
So, almost everyone is affected by menopause at some point in their life.
This is why we all need to talk about it and be informed.
We don’t have to just simply suffer through it… if we can shift from under-informed and unprepared to knowledgeable and empowered.
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