Maybe you’ve started noticing a few changes in how you feel and are wondering if this is normal, if it will go away or if this is the beginning of Menopause.
Suddenly sweating or waking at night feeling very warm?
Little interest in Sex?
Some vaginal dryness?
Menopause is that one magical day when a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 months. The following day, she is considered postmenopausal. Women may experience menopause starting in their 40s or 50s. The average age is 51. I have patients who are still having regular periods at 57 and others who have stopped completely at 48.
What most of us consider menopause is actually Perimenopause, or as I call it, the Hormonal Roller Coaster. This is the time in life when periods are erratic, symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats begin and women start to feel more fatigued, notice some leaking urine, less sex drive and more wrinkles.
Menopause is quite a journey, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s all a result of declining levels of hormones, mostly our estrogen. This results in many physical and emotional changes, notably disturbing changes in how warm, hot or cold we feel.
Is it hot in here, or is it just me?
Hot Flashes – Feelings of intense heat can appear out of thin air, radiating from your shoulders to your face and scalp. For some women, a racing heart accompanies hot flashes. Flushing and sweating are common, but you could also appear cool as a cucumber.
Hot Flashes and night sweats can be triggered by:
- Drinking alcohol
- Hot showers or baths
- Too many clothes
- Sudden fluctuation in temperature
- Even a hot meal or drink!
Night sweats: This is typically the first sign of menopause. Some women have only a slight sensation of warmth, while others sweat so much at night they have to get up and change their clothes. Night sweats are often accompanied by waking with an urge to go to the bathroom.
- Sexual interest: You may experience increased or decreased interest in sex, and this may change from day to day. Making things more complicated, your sexual response changes too.
- Sleep patterns: You may find yourself waking early and having difficulty returning to sleep. Constantly changing sleep patterns and resulting lack of sleep can cause serious mood swings. This can lead to: short-term memory loss and feelings of depression
- Racing Heart: Even without a hot flash, your heart might race; your ears might pound or pulsate. This can be disconcerting and frightening; discussing this with your provider can be reassuring and helpful.
- Tender Breasts: During menopause, your estrogen levels rise and fall, which can lead to sore and enlarged breasts.
- Unwanted Hair: Menopause hits with a double whammy in the hair department, with coarse hair appearing on the chin and upper lip while hair on the scalp thins. For facial hair, electrolysis can help; you can discuss hair loss options with your health care provider.
- Irritability: Rapid changes in your hormone levels may make you feel like a moody teenager again. Lack of sleep can exacerbate irritability and mood swings
- Weight gain: You’ve made no changes to your diet or exercise, but now your pants don’t fit! The pounds creep on now that your metabolism has slowed down. You need fewer calories now, and exercising won’t burn as many calories.
- Dry Skin: Use a moisturizing cream or lotion. Apply sunscreen daily to help prevent skin cancer.
- Vaginal Dryness: Lowered estrogen levels can make things feel like a desert down there! To combat this, use plenty of lubricant when engaging in sexual activity. You may also want to talk with your health care provider about vaginal estrogen.
I have a lot more information and options for feeling better in my book: The Hot Guide to a Cool Sexy Menopause.
All proceeds benefit FAME Hospital in Tanzania