Every woman will eventually go through menopause. Knowing and recognizing the first signs of menopause can help you take control of your life and get the help you need when you begin experiencing menopausal symptoms. You must understand your body if you are going to quickly recognize the first symptoms of menopause. During your teenage years, you probably experienced a roller coaster of emotions and symptoms, including acne, mood swings, and abdominal pain. Your menopause specialist can help.
Perimenopause, the process of transitioning through menopause, takes several years to complete; however, you do not have to be miserable throughout the process. Perimenopause typically begins in your 40s; however, many women begin to notice changes in their mid-30s. Perimenopause causes your estrogen levels to rise and fall, which causes your menstrual periods to become either longer or shorter. The rising and falling of hormones also cause menopause symptoms.
Menopause is the culmination of your fertility. At the end of perimenopause, your ovaries will have shut down; however, this process takes time. Perimenopause typically lasts around four years; however, some women transition through perimenopause very quickly. Whether you go through perimenopause quickly or it takes a while to transition, you will most likely experience symptoms that make you miserable.
First Sign of Perimenopause
Typically, the first sign of perimenopause is the disruption of the menstrual cycle. Your period may begin earlier than expected, or it could be later than normal. For example, if you had a 28 day menstrual cycle throughout your fertile years, your menstrual cycle could change, and your period could start on the 21st day or the 35th day. In fact, some women will skip entire months while others have heavier than normal periods.
Signs of Menopause
When you are transitioning from fertility to menopause, you will experience different symptoms as your hormones rise and fall. These symptoms occur as your body adjusts to the decrease in estrogen production. The intensity and type of symptoms will vary. Let’s take a look at the most common symptoms.
- Hot Flashes – Approximately 80 percent of perimenopausal women experience hot flashes. Hot flashes occur when the brain has difficulty regulating the body’s internal temperature. This difficulty is due to a decreased amount of estrogen in the body. Some people barely perceive the temperature change while others feel like their internal temperature has ramped up 20 or more degrees. During a hot flash, you will suddenly feel hot and sweaty.
- Sleep Difficulties – Women transitioning from fertility to menopause may also have trouble sleeping. You may experience night flashes, which are hot flashes that come on while you are sleeping. Perimenopausal women often experience insomnia. Insomnia includes not being able to get to sleep or not being able to stay asleep. Perimenopausal women may find themselves needing to frequent the bathroom throughout the night, which can disrupt their sleep.
- Mood Swings – While transitioning through menopause, your hormones will fluctuate, which can affect your mood. The rising and falling of your hormones can cause your mood to rise and fall. At one minute, you may be happy and the next minute, you maybe be crying. Most perimenopausal women will experience mood swings as they transition through menopause.
- Weight Gain
- Frequent urination
- Bone Loss
There are many things you can do to help you deal with menopause, including eating healthy, learning tactics to help you emotionally deal with fluctuating hormones and a variety of herbs that may help ease or eliminate your symptoms. A menopause specialist using holistic treatment approaches can help.
What to Eat During Menopause?
There are many tips to help ensure that women going through menopause are getting the necessary nutrients. Most women have calcium and iron deficiencies, so here are a few recommendations-
- Calcium – Calcium helps strengthen the bones and prevent bone loss, fractures and osteoporosis. It is suggested that you get two to four servings of calcium-rich foods daily. Calcium can be found in broccoli, dairy products, boned fish, such as canned salmon or sardines and legumes.
- Iron – Iron helps prevent anemia. You should consume three servings of iron-rich foods each day. Iron-rich foods include meat, poultry, green leafy vegetables, nuts, enriched grains, fish and eggs.
- Fruits and Vegetables – Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will help ensure you are getting the necessary nutrients your body needs. Additionally, filling your plate with fruits and vegetables will help keep you fuller, longer, which will help prevent weight gain. Strive to eat 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-1/2 cups of anti-oxidant fruits each day.
Water – Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to ensure you remain properly hydrated. This also helps prevent inflammation from occurring.
- Consume Essential Fatty Acids – Eat a variety of foods rich in essential fatty acids and omega-3’s such as fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, olive oil, and borage oil.
- Limit Unhealthy Fats – Excess fat in the diet can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular difficulties by raising your cholesterol levels. Limit your fat consumption to no more than a quarter of your total calories. Additionally, saturated fat should not make up any more than 7 percent of your total calories.
Hormonal Changes During Menopause
When a woman goes through menopause, it can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. Chronic stress can lead to complications including high blood pressure, heart disease and emotional problems. There are several strategies to help you cope with the symptoms associated with hormone changes and menopause. These include yoga, massage and meditation.
- Yoga has been used for centuries to help relieve stress. Yoga’s goal is to combine mental and physical disciples to achieve balance and peace in the body and in the mind. Yoga can help lower your heart rate, reduce cholesterol, improve mood and combat weight gain.
- Massage can help relieve stress, improve the mood and provide relaxation to the muscles. Additionally, a qualified massage therapist can help drain lymph nodes, which can help detoxify the body. Massage helps relieve pain and stiffness which can occur when your hormones fluctuate.
- Meditation involves looking inward and getting rid of any negative thoughts. This will help you reach a state of relaxation and peace. Those who meditate report that the sense of tranquility can last throughout the day.
Herbs to Ease Your Menopause Symptoms
Black Cohosh, Chaste berry, Sage and St. John’s wort may help alleviate the symptoms associated with menopause. However, it is important to only use good quality herbs recommended by a skilled practitioner. Additionally, to help avoid drug interactions, talk with menopause spec physician before starting any herbal remedy.
- Black Cohosh is often the preferred herb to help reduce hot flashes, decrease mood swings and prevent memory loss. Women using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or suffering from estrogen dependent cancers should consult their physician prior to using this herb.
- Chaste berry helps to regulate fluctuating hormones. Studies have shown that this herb, also known as Vitex, helps to improve symptoms of hormone imbalance in menopausal women. This herb may cause nausea or itching in sensitive individuals.
- Sage is often used to help alleviate night sweats and hot flashes. This cooking herb can also help prevent excessive perspiration. Sage is fast acting and many women experience relief with the first use.
- St. John’s wort helps to regulate the mood. When hormones fluctuate, women may experience depression, mood swings and anxiety. This powerful herb should not be used with antidepressants and can cause sun sensitivity.
Seek Help for Menopause
Women experience numerous symptoms when they are transitioning from fertility to menopause. The first sign of menopause is typically a change menstrual cycle. This can be periods that are further apart or periods that occur more often. Once you begin experiencing a change in your menstrual cycle, other symptoms of menopause will begin to occur.
It is recommended you consult a menopause specialist or women’s health specialist if you are experiencing erratic bleeding, depression, insomnia, or other symptoms of menopause. Many natural remedies and lifestyle changes can help ease your symptoms. Some helpful herbs include black cohosh, ginseng, and evening primrose oil.
Regular exercise, stress relief techniques can decrease the symptoms of menopause. An anti-inflammatory diet featuring fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats nourishes the body and may reduce many of the symptoms of menopause while helping with weight loss.
The symptoms surrounding menopause can be difficult to deal with; however, developing an effective action plan can help you better control your emotions, avoid hot flashes, minimize weight gain and prevent bone loss. Eat well-balanced meals filled with fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to ensure you are getting the correct nutrients, exercise regularly and use the ancient art of meditation to help you control your emotions. In addition, choose herbs that are beneficial to help ease the symptoms of menopause.