Most of us know that one day, perhaps in our 40s or 50s, our periods will stop and we’ll go through menopause. But what does this actually mean for your daily life and health?
“Many women head into menopause without knowing what is happening to their own bodies,” says OB-GYN Dr. Anna Cabeca. “‘I’m over the hill.’ ‘I’m going to suffer through every part of menopause.’ Sound familiar? Menopause stimulates negative self-talk, not to mention negative societal connotations. It’s a power-packed combo of physical challenges and mental stressors. It can be a difficult time, but it doesn’t have to be.”
Here are three things to know to help you understand and get through menopause.
When does it start?
Before you go through menopause, you’ll go through a phase called perimenopause where your ovaries start producing less estrogen, according to Cabeca. This can cause your periods to fluctuate, but you won’t know you’re fully in menopause until you go a year without a period.
Symptoms of menopause are varied and can include hot flashes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, fatigue, brain fog, and hormonal imbalances. “There is no one way to go through menopause,” says Cabeca. “Some women might sail through without any symptoms, while others might experience one or a mix of the symptoms.”
Are symptoms preventable?
Menopause symptoms can be greatly reduced simply through diet and lifestyle changes. “Eating a more alkaline diet and managing stress are just a few of many of the recommendations on how to deal with these inconvenient symptoms,” says Cabeca. An alkaline diet is one full of green vegetables, lemon and lime, and other veggies and fruits. Thanuja Hamilton, an internal medicine doctor and sleep medicine specialist at Reverie, recommends eating foods like soy, legumes, and certain vegetables with phytoestrogens since these compounds mimic estrogen and can reduce symptoms of estrogen loss.
You’ll also want to have a regular sleep schedule to avoid the sleep disturbances menopause can trigger. “You can avoid excessive heat at night by installing a programmable thermostat to keep your room cool while you’re sleeping,” says Hamilton. Use bedding made of breathable material like bamboo to also avoid hot flashes and insomnia.
xx, The FabFitFun Team
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