Women in menopause
Hormones

Menopause 101: The Whole Picture

Chances are, you’ve probably heard of menopause a few times. As an adolescent, you may have overheard your mother or another adult female complain about the famed ‘hot flashes’. Or even listened in as female coworkers discussed the dreaded men-o-pause among themselves. Nonetheless, it likely seemed too far away and unrelatable at the time, but now…it’s real.

Aunt Flo Won’t Always Be There

You and your period may have gone through a lot together over the years, but Aunt Flo isn’t always going to be there. Menopause is the end of the line, and we usually understand it as a hormonal nightmare if pop culture is to be believed. But we all know that pop culture rarely gets everything right. So let’s touch up the inaccuracies.

So, What is Menopause?

Menopause is less of a condition and more of a point in time. Menopause occurs 12 months after your last period. Those years leading up to menopause, where menopausal symptoms occur but you still get your period, is a separate phase. That’s the menopausal transition or perimenopause, which we’ll get into later. Just know that menopause and perimenopause aren’t technically the same thing. A lot of people think perimenopause is menopause. This is a common misconception. 

Every woman’s experience with perimenopause and menopause is unique. No two of us will have exactly the same symptoms.

Why Menopause Happens

Women going through perimenopause often have to deal with hot flashes and mood changes, which aren’t exactly fun. Even after menopause is over, symptoms may persist. Eventually though, they usually start to slowly go away over time. But why does all this stuff happen in the first place? 

It turns out that perimenopause and the associated symptoms are caused by your ovaries. Your ovaries slow down their production of two specific hormones – estrogen and progesterone, as you get older. Those hormones are what keep your menstrual cycle flowing, so stopping them means stopping a whole host of things your body’s been used to.

So, the eggs needed for reproduction are all stored in the ovaries, right? Well, the ovaries aren’t exactly pumping out an unlimited number of eggs every month. In fact, ovaries have a finite number of eggs from the time you’re born. When your ovaries stop releasing those hormones we talked about, they also stop releasing eggs. That means ovulation and menstruation stop too. 

A woman’s transition into menopause occurs because the ovaries get tired. I get tired, you get tired, and apparently, so do our ovaries. As confusing as the term ‘menopause’ can be, when it comes down to it, there’s only a limited amount of eggs every woman has the ability to produce. After that, a domino effect transpires and the body begins to adjust itself in the months leading up to the official stage of menopause. This in-between period of time, called perimenopause, may leave you with a few uncomfortable symptoms. Such as vaginal dryness, chills, night sweats, mood changes, and a slower metabolism.

Oh, Estrogen, Is That You?

Those pesky hormones we mentioned control a lot of stuff, though. Estrogen, for example, is responsible for feminine characteristics and sexual functions in the body. It’s also extremely important for a woman’s bone health. After hitting menopause, osteoporosis or bone thinning usually occurs because of the decrease in estrogen. Though the ovaries aren’t the only region that produces estrogen, they produce the majority of it.

And Don’t Forget Progesterone

Then there’s progesterone which is mainly used to regulate menstrual cycles or periods. The ovaries produce a lot of it, but again, they aren’t the only source. That said, once progesterone production slows from the ovaries, the menopausal symptoms begin. Lack of progesterone is the main cause for fatigue, hot flashes and other problems associated with menopause. The good news is that this hormone is easy to replicate without a prescription thanks to it being readily available in lots of plants. Even birth control and hormone replacement medicines carry this hormone.

These Hormones Change a Few Things

When your levels of estrogen and progesterone drop because of menopause, it causes a lot of changes in the body. Like we said, bone fractures are usually more common, as well as heart disease, incontinence, looser skin, less muscle tone and weaker vision. Women after menopause are even at more risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these issues may just have to do with getting older and less about menopause. At this point, menopause probably doesn’t sound very fun. Sadly, giving up periods has consequences. Such as possible bladder leaks (which Lily Bird can help with). Power is in knowledge, though, and we’re here to educate you about every in and out of menopause there is.

Types of Menopause

You probably didn’t know this but there are three different kinds of menopause depending on what causes it to happen. Your symptoms will be similar regardless of what causes you to go into menopause, even though the symptoms vary a lot from woman to woman.

Natural Menopause

Natural menopause is all in the name. It happens naturally and gradually to all healthy women when they get to their golden years. The big question here is knowing when you’ve hit menopause. As we said, you’ve hit menopause when you’ve gone without a period for 12 months. During perimenopause, periods like to skip around sometimes or happen for shorter or longer cycles.

No matter how irregular your periods become or what they’re like, menopause is always when you’ve gone a year without one. That’s it. If you go for 9 months without a period and then have one, the clock starts over. Your symptoms won’t necessarily be average just because you hit menopause naturally, though. Your symptoms are all dictated by how your body uniquely responds to the missing hormones.

Before we go further into timings and symptoms, let’s cover the other types of menopause first.

Early and Premature Menopause

Early and premature menopause are actually two slightly different things. If you hit menopause before you’re 45, then it’s early. Menopause starting before the age of 40 is premature. Both early and premature menopause happen due to natural causes. Symptoms remain largely the same, so early menopause doesn’t mean skipping the hot flashes. 

Only about one percent of women go through premature menopause. More often than not, premature menopause is caused by a medical condition. For example, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can precipitate menopause. Other causes include HIV/AIDS, neurological diseases, heart disease and so on. 

Induced Menopause

Induced menopause is caused by medical treatment, like a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is a surgery to remove the uterus and sometimes the Fallopian tubes and ovaries, too. Removal of both ovaries can jump start menopause because your ovaries produce most of your estrogen and progesterone. However, hysterectomies are not the only cause of induced menopause. 

Medication Can Cause It Too

Sometimes menopause can be caused by medicine. Radiation therapy like chemo, for instance, can induce menopause. Other treatments, like medicine for endometriosis, can also cause the change. Endometriosis is when tissue that usually grows inside the uterus actually starts growing outside of it. Needless to say, this one hurts. The treatments usually include hormone therapy, fertility treatment or even surgery. So there are several reasons menopause might happen because of endometriosis. 

But Keep This in Mind

Make no mistake! While induced menopause usually happens early, it isn’t naturally occurring and doesn’t work like the other types of menopause. For one, you’re likely not going to go through the perimenopause part of the process since there probably wont be any lead-up. Just, bam! You’re now in menopause mode. As if the reasons for induced menopause weren’t stressful enough, right? Symptoms with induced menopause aren’t strictly better or worse than with natural menopause. To make the sudden menopause a little easier to deal with, try to keep up on good health habits. Things like eating right and exercising, while also recognizing that your body is going through some changes. Hot flashes might mean wearing lighter clothing during the day or dressing in layers, so some lifestyle changes are likely. 

When you hit menopause and what triggers it are just some of the ways menopause differs from one woman to the next. No matter what your situation is or what you’re experiencing, there are a whole host of women around the world who can relate. While your menopause may have some unique aspects just for you, don’t believe for a second that you’re alone.

When Does Menopause Happen?

As discussed before, there are different triggers of menopause. Sometimes it’s spurred by that grand design called womanhood. Other times it’s triggered by medical conditions or treatments. That being said, each woman’s menopausal journey is unique and personal. 

Despite the fact that menopause is your body’s way of telling your ovaries to stop releasing eggs, it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, menopause is preceded by 8-10 years of perimenopause.

Surprise, Menopause Is Here

To date, there is no scientific test or tool that can provide an accurate assessment for when a woman will hit menopause. Although the average age of menopause is 51 in the U.S., the age for menopause can range from 48 to 55. And there are some who even experience it earlier! So it’s sort of like a surprise party for one of your birthdays… just without the cake and loved ones. And you probably won’t be laughing about it and your bones are a little less supportive AND you may get hot flashes every now and then. Did I forget to mention the ‘no cake’ part? But you know, surprise!

Stages of Menopause

The difference between the three stages of menopause – before, during, and after – is in the way that your body utilizes its constantly fluctuating (and decreasing) hormones. Basically your body is forced to figure out how to make a 12 egg omelet with only 6 eggs. The first stage (an in-between period of time called perimenopause) occurs during the years before menopause, in which the ovaries gradually reduce their estrogen, progesterone, and even testosterone production. 

Perimenopause

This can begin 8 to 10 years before menopause starts – sometimes in a woman’s ‘40s but as early as her ’30s. In the last few years of perimenopause, estrogen levels drop rapidly and the process of dealing with menopause begins. There are a few symptoms commonly experienced that are related to this sudden decrease in hormones: irregular menstruation, calcium loss, mood swings, forgetfulness, hot flashes, night sweats, and frequent cramping. Irregular menstruation, as you might know, refers to any changes in the length of your period or the amount of flow you experience.

By having your doctor measure your FSH levels (follicle stimulating hormone), she/he will be able to inform you if you are near menopause. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and will increase exponentially around the time that your ovaries begin to shut down some of their functions. When estrogen and progesterone start to fluctuate and lower, you might experience bloating, cramping, heavy bleeding, vaginal dryness, insomnia, night sweats, unexplained exhaustion, and osteoporosis.

Be warned though! Just because you’re in the pre-menopause phase where your ovaries aren’t ovulating as regularly doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant.

We Now Present: Menopause

As stated here, the female body officially reaches menopause after 12 months of ‘no period’. Not 10 or 11 months – 12 full consecutive months without any menstruation. Keep checking those calendars, ladies. During this time, some of the symptoms you were experiencing during perimenopause may reduce in frequency and intensity. A few of them are related to your hormonal fluctuations – like the decrease of estrogen affecting sleep.

Unfortunately, which symptoms improve is a bit of a toss-up depending on your biology. Some women report a significant decrease in their symptoms after their body readjusts to its hormone levels. Others permanently retained their physical changes. Mood swings and depression are also linked to hormones but it’s unclear whether this occurs because of high or low levels of estrogen since it occurs in both perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Nevertheless, women with excess stress, unhealthy eating habits, or a history of depression are more likely to experience depression during perimenopause and menopause.

Post-Menopause

Post-menopause are the years following that magical moment that is menopause. It is the symbol of overcoming menopause! Post menopause starts after it has been at least one full year without a period. The reward of post menopause comes in the form of a gradual decrease in the symptoms commonly felt before and during menopause. That means those pesky hot flashes and night sweats may reduce in frequency and intensity.

But do not mistake menopause as the end of your hormonal changes – some women treat it as the end of a race when it’s still the final lap.  In actuality, hormones continue to decrease little by little even after you hit menopause. Because of several previously listed factors, including the lower level of estrogen, post-menopausal women are at an increased risk for certain health conditions; like osteoporosis and heart disease. As long as you’re living healthfully, exercising, and eating well, you’ll be okay. Enjoy your golden years!

Now, Biologically Speaking…

So, you now know the in’s and out’s of what pre-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause are. But what’s going on inside? You and your body have been so close over the years…I mean, you’re practically related, right? To use non-biological terms, your ovaries take a seat in the back and let your body drive this crazy train called life. But what’s really happening?

The Feedback Effect: Your Reproductive Cycle

Ovulation stops. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. It has to stop in order for menopause to happen. Estrogen works as the female reproductive hormone, as well as throughout a woman’s body in places like the vagina, uterus, skin, liver, heart and so forth. Estrogen, along with progesterone, helps to maintain your menstrual cycle. When the ovaries run out of eggs though, both hormones are removed from the feedback effect. By feedback effect, I mean if there’s a certain input in your body, it releases an output. In this case, the input is your hormones, and the output is your menstrual cycle and the existence and release of eggs. 

Now, biologically, how else is there a feedback effect? Well, during menstruation, of course. Especially when the blood and tissue from your uterus are built up in order to prepare the body for pregnancy. Once the hormones in your body cause the egg to mature, the lining of your uterus thickens to prepare for a fertilized egg. But, if there is no egg, no message is sent to the body because there is no need to thicken the lining of the uterus. So, your period (along with the associated hormones) won’t occur.

Those Reproductive Hormones Are Mighty Powerful

So, which hormones are heavily affected during perimenopause and menopause? Estrogen, for one. Estrogen is primarily responsible for your sexual and reproductive development. It is chiefly produced by the ovaries in women and, as a result, your estrogen levels plunge when your ovaries’ stop working. 

Progesterone, another female reproductive hormone, also decreases during menopause. It is released only if an egg is released during ovulation. This hormone changes the mucus in the cervix to a thick layer and helps produce milk cells in the breasts. 

Trying To Make It Make Sense: Weight Gain

By now you’ve heard a hundred times that estrogen is a women’s reproductive hormone. But honestly, what is the main effect of estrogen-lowering in the body? Why does the reduction of estrogen and progesterone cause all of those menopausal symptoms? Well, first off, the reduction in estrogen affects the body’s ability to store fat. This can affect your metabolism and cause drastic increases in one’s weight. 

Clinical studies have shown that lower estrogen increases appetite and food intake. Lord knows, it isn’t easy to lose weight but now you have to wrestle with your body’s increased appetite and decreased metabolism all at the same time. Also, with lower quantities of estrogen, your body doesn’t handle sugar as well and this results in an increase in fat storage. 

And Cortisol’s Role

Cortisol, or as it’s commonly called, the stress hormone, allows the body to respond and adapt to stressful circumstances. It does this by making you MORE aware of what’s already stressful. Isn’t it so helpful? But did you know it may also be causing your hot flashes?  Normally, cortisol works hand in hand with your ‘fight or flight’ hormones, triggering the breakdown of muscle tissue in order to release more energy. However, in postmenopausal women, it appears that chronic stress causes the repeated release of cortisol, which can cause daytime hot flashes and chronic sleep disturbances. In this study, researchers acknowledge the public health implications of cortisol as causing a “greater frequency of moderate to severe hot flashes in midlife women” due to subtle changes in the body’s concentration of cortisol. 

And as you might have guessed, good ol’ stress can lead to unwanted weight gain. Especially around the midsection. Another study found that women in their perimenopause and early menopause stages experience high nighttime cortisol levels. Even when you’re sleeping, you might not catch a break! This particular study showed that the stress was attributed to biological changes rather than environmental stress so proper management at night is essential to controlling your weight.

Leptin Who?

The decline in reproductive hormones, like FSH, leptin, estrogen, and progesterone, has not been directly linked to changes in weight. Rather, the decline affects other key components in the body that lead to weight gain.

The International Journal of Obesity published a study determining that women in menopause are more likely to accumulate fat in the abdominal region. There’s a reason it gets more difficult to keep off the weight around your stomach! This can be controlled by your leptin hormone, which regulates the amount you eat, the calories you use, and how much fat your body stores. Low levels of leptin signal your brain to increase your feelings of hunger in order to protect you from starvation. Convenient, right? Overall, women have higher levels of leptin than men and it turns out that those level significantly decreases in post-menopausal women, regardless of their amount of fat mass. This explains why women, overall, report an increased appetite. This factor, combined with all the other hormones, only adds to the struggle of trying to lose weight.

Menopause Symptoms

So let’s face it, there was a reason Jamie Lee Curtis was promoting Activia yogurt so much. Once your estrogen levels drop, a whole plethora of symptoms arise that can do things like affect your body’s usage of calcium, resulting in a decrease in bone density and strength. Yogurt, along with other calcium-rich foods, can be an excellent supplement for calcium restoration. Go eat that soured milk, friends. 

On another note, have you ever really wondered which symptoms occur during menopause? If yes, then look no further. We’ve created a list of symptoms, what each is, how common it is, and why it happens. Some of them are affected by the decrease in one or several of the reproductive hormones working in conjunction with the rest of the body.

Estrogen Fluctuation Can Cause:

  • Bloating: this can be exacerbated by changes in diet or appetite. It’s ultimately caused by extra air or fluid in the gastrointestinal tract. The increase in estrogen can cause water retention, which makes you feel bloated.
  • Cramping: cramping can occur for a number of reasons including chronic constipation, endometriosis, and gastroenteritis. 
  • Heavier than normal bleeding
  • Breast pain and tenderness: the spike in estrogen makes the breasts sore and will stop after the body no longer produces estrogen.

Low Levels of Estrogen Can Cause:

  • Vaginal dryness: As estrogen levels fall, the vagina produces less lubricant, causing the tissue to dry and lose its elasticity and strength.
  • Fatigue: The variations in hormones can make it difficult to sleep. Ultimately affecting how much energy you have during the day.
  • Hot flashes & night sweats: These are surges of adrenaline waking up the brain, but it also changes your body temperature which affects your sleep and comfort.
  • Headaches and nausea: Depending on the nature of the headaches. If they are hormonal, then menopause may reduce the onset of this terrible symptom. However, women have reported having frequent headaches during their perimenopause stage. For women who experience migraines regularly, perimenopause can trigger it due to the extreme changes in hormones.
  • Insomnia: The fluctuation in hormones can make you more susceptible to environmental factors and other stressors that disrupt sleep.
  • Mood swings/irritability: The combination of fatigue and hormonal changes can directly affect things like your mood.
  • Reduced thickening of the uterus lining: This is why your period ends during menopause. Because the uterus lining no longer needs to thicken – for a fertilized egg to attach – there is no need for shedding and thus, no menstruation.
  • Osteoporosis: The loss of bone density and integrity is a result of a decrease in estrogen, affecting the calcium in your bones.
  • Weight gain: The reduction in estrogen affects your body’s ability to store fat. This can affect metabolism and cause drastic increases in weight. Clinical studies have shown that lower estrogen also increases appetite and food intake.
  • Urinary incontinence: Estrogen is in charge of a lot of things, ladies! It is a major contributor to pelvic collagen synthesis and elastin, which gives your pelvic floor muscles flexibility and strength. When your estrogen levels drop, your pelvic floor can weaken. Then, you suddenly find yourself experiencing an unexpected drip or dribble now and then.

Progesterone Fluctuation Can Cause:

  • Heavy and irregular menstruation: progesterone is responsible for changes to the mucus in your cervix. It makes the mucus thicker and during the period of time where ovulation does not occur – and with progesterone increasing – women may still experience heavy bleeding along with their menopausal symptoms.
  • Hair loss/thinning: the hormonal imbalance due to the reduction of progesterone and estrogen can trigger an increase in androgens – a group of hormones that shrink hair follicles. 

Once your high estrogen levels begin stabilizing, as your body adjusts to the altered concentration of hormones, your symptoms should begin normalizing as well. However, it can be the case that symptoms related to low estrogen will still remain, like calcium deficiency, vaginal dryness, or bouts of fatigue. 

Menopause Diagnosis

Now you’re probably wondering, how would you know if you’ve hit menopause or are getting close? It’s clear when you’ve hit menopause; it’s the moment when you’ve missed your period for a solid year. If you’ve only missed your period for a month or two, you can check with your medical provider to see if you’re on your way to menopause. 

There’s Also A Blood Test For That

The FDA has approved a blood test that can determine if a woman has entered menopause by measuring AMH (anti-Mullerian hormone) in the blood. AMH is a hormone produced by a woman’s ovaries that have a role in ovulation. The quantity declines as women approach menopause and is one of several key indicators that healthcare providers use to determine that a woman is in menopause. 

Menopause Treatment

There are several well-known treatments to alleviate a few symptoms due to menopausal changes in hormone levels. Some treatments are hormone-based, others are supplements, and a few are considered to be natural remedies. Check them out below: 

Hormone-based Treatments

Hormone-based treatment is called hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and there are two basic types: estrogen-only therapy and estrogen plus progesterone therapy. 

With the former, an estrogen supplement is prescribed to women who are experiencing menopause due to the removal of their uterus in a hysterectomy.

The latter treatment option has progesterone added to the estrogen in order to protect women, with a uterus, against uterine cancer that can happen due to the exclusive use of estrogen. The products that allow hormone therapy range widely. From creams or pills, for vaginal symptoms, to patches, gels, and injections for hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal symptoms, or osteoporosis. Ask your medical provider which one will work best for you but it’s best to start with a low dose and see if your symptoms improve. 

But Is It Actually Helpful?

The results of clinical research has shown that hormone therapy improves the lives of women dealing with hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and bone loss. This can help improve your sleep quality, sex life, and enjoyment of life. There are known risks of HRT, however, and again, it is recommended to minimize the dosage and frequency. Many factors can play into your decisions about hormonal therapy. Just remember that the symptoms of menopause can reduce overtime, and their effect on the body varies from person to person.

Natural Solutions for Menopause

Natural solutions come in the form of supplements, exercise, vitamins, herbal remedies. Listed below are a few of these remedies:

  • Aerobics & Yoga: Exercise and meditation reduce irritability and hot flashes in some women. Yoga combines both exercise and meditation into one activity and it can help prevent sleep disruption
  • Controlled breathing: Slowed breathing helps decrease fatigue and improve sleep and mood. Try slowing your breathing to six breaths per minute – breathing to a count of five and slowly letting it out. Do this for 15 minutes, twice a day. 
  • Protein-Rich Foods: Meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and dairy help prevent muscle loss and promote weight loss by making you feel fuller.
  • Wild Yam: Its constituents are used in pills and creams as an alternative to hormone therapy. Some of the natural compounds in these yams are similar to estrogen and progesterone. But, more research is needed to determine if they provide real relief for menopause symptoms.
  • Soy: Studies show that women in the U.S. are eight times more at risk for hot flashes than women in Asian regions. Possibly because foods with soy contain phytoestrogen supplements; estrogen-like compounds found in plants. These compounds are moderately effective in relieving hot flashes.
  • Tofu & Tempeh: Like soy, tofu and tempeh are both high in phytoestrogens. They can help regulate your hormones, reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and hot flashes.
  • Water: Getting enough water can prevent dehydration and limit your hot flashes. Drinking 500ml of water before your meals could help you consume 13% fewer calories too. It can also help reduce the bloating and dryness that comes with hormonal changes.
  • Processed Food: Postmenopausal women with diets high in refined sugar and processed foods tend to have poor bone quality and a higher risk of depression. 

Herbs for Menopause

  • Black Cohosh: Studies have shown it helps with hot flashes, but it’s benefits are tentative; do not use if you have liver issues.
  • Ginseng: Really, this is good for everyone. It acts as a mood booster and has proven to increase energy levels and improve sleep.
  • Red Clover: Can you believe that plants carry estrogen? Although the evidence is mixed, some women have reported that this plan has helped them. But it’s best to talk to your doctor, just in case.
  • Flaxseed: The seed or oil can provide lignans – used to balance female hormones. Again, its benefits are tentative.

Multivitamins/supplements can be beneficial if you aren’t getting all the nutrients you need in your diet. However it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful about the amount, quality, and purity. Supplements and herbs can affect any medications you’re currently taking by boosting or cancelling their effects. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider about anything you’re thinking of taking.

Vitamins for Menopause

  • Vitamin D: This is the best reason to (responsibly) get some sun. Without vitamin D, your body can’t absorb calcium. Generally, adults need 400-600 IU or 10-20 micrograms a day. Supplements are important but for the most natural source possible, try the sun.
  • Calcium: Because of the reduction in estrogen, women experience a calcium deficiency. Bone loss becomes a serious issue for both men and women after a certain point in life. Women 51 and older need at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day.
  • Vitamin E: Topical Vitamin E oil applied inside the vagina can help improve lubrication and may also reduce hot flashes.

Can Diet Improve Menopausal Symptoms? 

Your diet should always come first before taking supplements. So that means focusing more on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, and dairy products. Because your metabolism is at a reduced rate, which makes it harder to burn off calories, avoid unhealthy saturated fats as much as possible! Cold drinks can certainly help you feel cooler but avoid excessive coffee and alcohol. These diuretics encourage dehydration and can aggravate your hot flashes. As an alternative, try cold water or fruit juices with antioxidants and vitamins.

Advice from a dietitian or nutritionist can make all the difference in alleviating some of the more troublesome effects of menopause. There are menopause specialists who can advise you further to address your specific symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out how your body is changing. Your entire world doesn’t have to change and it can be a beautiful transition into a new life if you give your body some love!

Get Your Rest: How To Get Some Zzz’s 

By now, you must know that menopause is a time of extreme hormonal, physical, and psychological change. The one thing you’re going to notice, especially, is your difficulty trying to sleep. Your specific sleep problems may be attributable to depression, anxiety, hot flashes, or night chills. 

As many as 61% of post-menopausal women report insomnia symptoms, but some describe snoring as being their biggest issue. Snoring, along with pauses in your breathing, could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, and should be discussed with your doctor. 

In order to protect your sleep schedule, manage your menopausal symptoms through treatments, medications, and nutritional products. As discussed before, natural products like vitamin D, calcium supplements, and estrogen promoting foods (think tofu, soybeans, or soymilk) will help reduce symptoms like hot flashes and night chills. 

Avoiding large meals, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol near bedtime will significantly reduce the chances of midnight awakenings. Your mind soaks up a lot of stress during the day, so you’ll need to find ways to reduce it. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, then relaxation techniques, massages, and exercise may help with your restlessness.

Woosah: The Importance of Mindfulness

Several studies have reviewed the effect of mindfulness practices in post-menopausal women. The idea is that it can help women struggling with irritability, anxiety, and depression. In the study, participants filled out questionnaires rating their symptoms, level of stress they felt, and mindfulness.

The results showed that menopausal women who had higher mindfulness scores also had fewer symptoms like irritability, depression, and anxiety. However, it did not lower the chances of hot flash and sweat symptoms.

Overall, mindfulness is the ability to focus your senses on the minute and subtle elements of the present moment: the sound of leaves rustling; the temperature of your skin; the specific taste of your food; your feelings and thoughts about the day; the internal as well as the external. When we are mindful, we observe our thoughts without judgment and become more aware of the present and this can immensely change your outlook.

Goin’ Through Some Changes

I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of dealing with the phrase ‘going through some changes.’ So instead, think of menopause as a life process. Imagine it’s just a gradual transition into another world of womanhood that is indicative of your growth and maturity. The saving grace is this: the positivity amongs women means, in spite of ‘going through some changes,’ there is always a community of us who understand exactly what you’re going through.

Wrapping It Up On Menopause

All in all, who you are doesn’t have to change because your body is changing. Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle. The stages before, during, and after menopause may seem confusing, but you have an entire world of women who are experiencing the same thing and supporting you in solidarity. 

Just think about it: whether it’s taking advice from a dietitian or nutritionist in order to alleviate some of the more troublesome effects of menopause; finding a specialist who can guide you through the unique changes in your body; discovering new and life-changing habits for mindfulness with meditation or yoga; gaining a better understanding of how your body works with and without certain hormones; creating an amazing new diet and workout plan to share with your friends, or simply enjoying your golden years with your friends, family, and loved ones. It’s a new journey! The biggest takeaway is that your entire world doesn’t have to change and it can be a beautiful transition into a new season of life. You’re more than the hot flashes or night sweats. You’re a woman and you have all the power that comes with being one. Embrace it.

Are you a menopause master? Share your advice in the comments for women who are just entering this new stage of life! And, if menopause has brought with it a few leaky laughs or dribble dilemmas for you, take control back with bladder leak products shipped discreetly to your door by Lily Bird By Jessica Thomas, MPH