Menopause: Your Season To Thrive
With the right attitude and information, menopause can actually be the best time of our lives.
Menopause is the cessation of menses due to declining estrogen as the ovaries age. Natural menopause is not an “all of a sudden” event. The decline in estrogen is gradual but at some point, the woman will begin to miss periods and eventually stop having periods altogether. Menopause can also be caused by surgery that removes the ovaries, or triggered by cancer chemotherapy drugs which affect the ovary. In these cases, the transition is more abrupt and the menopause symptoms may be more pronounced.
The average age for menopause is 50 years old but may occur earlier. A woman is considered perimenopausal when her monthly periods begin to space out. Menopause begins at the point where the woman has had her last period. This is usually diagnosed in retrospect once the woman has gone one full year without a period. Symptoms of menopause may include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, depression, vaginal dryness with painful sex, decreased libido and some loss of bladder control. Each woman is unique and may experience some or none of the symptoms. A woman is considered post-menopausal once she has gone past the one-year mark of having no periods. As time goes by the symptoms may ease up. However, the vaginal thinning and decreased lubrication usually persists.
So what can you do to thrive and not just survive? Find an exercise or sport that you enjoy and just do it. Exercise will also help you maintain a healthy body weight. If you are a smoker, please try to stop. Take a multi-vitamin and extra calcium with vitamin D to keep your bones strong and healthy. Keep your mind busy by learning new things. Maintain an active social life and nourish friendships.
But what about those other problems that impact your quality of life? If you are having mild hot flashes, over-the-counter herbal preparations may help. Most of the supplements have soy products or black cohosh. If your symptoms are severe, then hormone replacement therapy (HRT) usually will give relief. If you have no risk factors (such as a history of breast cancer or pre-existing cardiovascular disease) then take the lowest dose of hormones that will control the symptoms. If you can’t take HRT, discuss with your doctor about trying an antidepressant like Effexor.
But what about vaginal dryness or painful sex caused by the thinning of the vaginal mucosa? A personal lubricant may be all you need. But if it is really causing a problem, there is a new treatment called the Mona Lisa Touch that will help restore your vaginal health.
Embrace the fact that you are blessed enough to have reached this wonderful stage of your life. Live your life to its fullest. This is your time to thrive.
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