Hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, weight gain, irregular periods, sleep problems… do these sound familiar?
Do you ever ask yourself…
Is this normal?
Is my body working against me?
Is there anything I can do?!
Menopause can feel uncomfortable and downright frustrating for many women.
We’re here to help! We want to help you better understand your body, embrace the change changes and still feel your best.
Understanding what’s changing during menopause, why it’s happening, and how to deal with it can make the whole process a whole lot easier to handle. While you may feel like your body and brain are no longer under your control, we are going to encourage towards the opposite. You actually do have control over your mindset, your lifestyle, and your environment – all of which can affect the symptoms that come along with menopause.
Menopause can initiate with your period. Perhaps it comes late (or early), it may be longer or shorter, more or less painful, lighter or heavier, and sometimes it doesn’t show up at all.
It’s important to note, there is no standard single start or end point for perimenopause or menopause. It’s a dynamic and responsive process, not a single event.
Just as we go through puberty in different stages at different ages, perimenopause and menopause kick in at different times too. Perimenopause usually begins in a woman’s 40’s (although some may experience in their 30’s) and menopause can occur anytime between a woman’s 40’s and 60’s.
Puberty is our first major hormonal event. Throughout our reproductive years, a complex process of hormonal feedback loops occurs once a month. The brain sends a signal to the ovaries, which respond by increasing production of the reproductive hormone’s estrogen and progesterone. We ovulate, build a uterine lining, shed it, and begin again.
Hormones are pulsatile, meaning they release in bursts and are strongly affected by a variety of factors. Perimenopause is the stage before menopause. As women age, their ovaries gradually start producing less reproductive hormones. Hormone levels will vary throughout both perimenopause and menopause which contribute to the unpredictable physical and psychological manifestations we experience. “Official” menopause marks the end of menstrual cycles when a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months.
There are different ways menopause can occur:
· Natural menopause occurs when estrogen, progesterone and other reproductive hormones decline on their own as a result of aging.
· Premature menopause distinguishes when menopause occurs before the age of 40. This can be caused by conditions like diabetes or hypothyroidism; certain medications; brain trauma; smoking; or genetic inheritance.
· Artificial menopause is when ovaries are removed or damages. Because of the sudden drop in hormones, menopause symptoms begin abruptly and may be more severe than other versions of menopause.
In women without a uterus, menopause can be identified by very high levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). High FSH levels are seen in all women during menopause.
Postmenopause is the stage at which hormonal fluctuations have levelled out, gonadal hormone production has shut down and reproductive hormones are very low.
Everyone’s hormones are affected by their unique genetics, which is why menopause is a very different experience from person to person. However, many lifestyle factors affect our hormones…
- Overall health
- History of pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Sleep, recovery, and circadian rhythm
- Stress levels
- Alcohol, medications, and other drugs
- Use of hormone replacement or birth control
We have the power to influence our hormones through our mindset and lifestyle. Aging is a part of life and the changes that come with it are not just physiological. Menopause is a great time to build new healthy habits. Just as hormonal changes can affect your sleep, body composition, mental health, and more, your daily habits can impact how strongly you feel the impact of those hormonal shifts.
Stay tuned for a post on strategies to alleviate menopause symptoms!