Are you around forty or better? Have you noticed some changes in yourself lately? If you answered yes to one of these two questions, you might want to keep reading today’s guest post by Meghan Belnap.
Menopause, which is defined as the time a woman’s cycles stop permanently, usually happens around fifty. There is a time span before that, however, when the hormone levels fluctuate in a less orderly fashion than in earlier years. This time period, which can begin as early as your late thirties, is called perimenopause, and it can involve some of the very symptoms that concern you.
Changes in Menstrual Cycle
Cycle changes can be different in different women. Some have heavier periods, even so heavy they cause anemia. Other women have lighter, more frequent periods. The length of cycle may vary every time. Irregular spotting between periods can lead to anxiety about reproductive cancers. While quite inconvenient and disconcerting, all these scenarios are normal during the perimenopausal years. Talk to your gynecologist, of course, if you’re worried about a health problem, but most of the time the problem is caused by your fluctuating hormone levels.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Hot flashes are sudden and sometimes embarrassing, leaving you flushed and uncomfortable in the midst of a conversation or meeting. Night sweats are a variation on that theme and can wake you dripping and clammy during the night. Again, both of these are normal, although annoying, perimenopausal symptoms. You may want to try dressing in layers during the day so you can discreetly remove your sweater or jacket to combat the overheated feeling. Night sweats can be helped by a small fan next to your bed. Sometimes just putting an arm outside the covers when you feel too hot will cool you.
Thinning Hair and Cracking Fingernails
Your hair and fingernails can be affected by lack of estrogen just like the rest of your body. Previously thick hair can become somewhat thin. If you had thin hair before, you may worry about going bald. This phenomenon is caused by the death of some hair follicles and can’t be changed. Your hairdresser might suggest a new style that will camouflage the loss. Vitamin E applied to constantly cracking or splitting unpolished fingernails before bed each night can help restore healthy nails.
Mental Confusion, Difficulty Concentrating, Mood Swings
When you’ve always been competent and productive, some of the changes that are common near menopause can make you wonder where your “real self” went! It’s easy to start worrying about early-onset Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, and newly emerging mental health issues, but brain-related issues during the perimenopausal years are not unusual. It’s comforting to know that things will return to normal after your periods stop and your hormones quit riding a roller coaster. Your gynecologist may recommend hormone therapy from Genemedics Health Institute to solve these problems and restore your ability to feel and function more normally.
As estrogen levels decline, your metabolism decreases. Combine this with some normal fatigue and you have an ideal matrix for weight gain. The formula for fighting this is tried and true: eat less and exercise more! Take a good multivitamin and make sure you eat a variety of nutritious foods. A regular brisk walk or exercise class will not only help keep your weight down, it will improve your mood as well!
Understanding the normal changes and symptoms in the perimenopausal years can be very helpful in coping with the new situations the change in hormone levels can cause. Unlike women in the past, though, there can be help from hormone replacement therapy if your doctor agrees that it’s a right solution for you.
About the Author
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She also enjoys being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan also enjoys researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.
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