Menopause and perimenopause can be really irritating times for a lot of women. Their hormones go through complete chaos and everything that was once normal is no more.
Formerly nice women find themselves without a filter on their mouth, once regular periods are irregular, weight gain happens without just cause, and any semblance of a sex drive is gone.
While these symptoms may not be fun, they are a common part of hormone changes.
1) Mood swings
Hormone changes seem to bring out the best and worst in women. As they transition into menopause, her hormone shifts may not only cause hot flashes or night sweats but increased anxiety, anger, irritation, boldness, panic attacks or weepiness.
Some may experience all these moods regularly while others may lean towards one spectrum (anxiety/depression) or the other (anger/irritation). This is common.
2) Period changes
Due to the modern day technology, women have an app for most everything on their computer and smart phone, including a period tracking site.
Unfortunately, with perimenopause and menopause once regular 28-32 day cycles may disappear, replaced by periods every two weeks or every few months. No sooner has one period ended then another one starts a few days later and then does not return for six months.
As the ovaries close shop, the actual process of regular bleeding is not needed anymore therefore irregularity can become the norm. This can make tracking quite difficult and some women stop their period one month and never have it again (lucky ladies!) but most find themselves at the whim of their uterus until the whole process is complete.
3) Weight gain
Yes, we're talking about the dreaded weight gain of menopause that tends to occur just around the middle, without any change in diet or exercise. There are several theories as to the reason for this.
First, of course, is just that everything is changing. Metabolism declines with age. The body can make estrogen out of adipose (fat) tissue so the body puts more of it there. Women become more insulin resistant as they go through menopause ... and the list goes on.
Regardless, it tends to occur quite frequently so tightening up the diet and changing (or starting!) an exercise routine is critical.
4) Sex drive
This is truly a terrible flaw in the female system. As many women enter into menopause they find their sex drive starts to decrease. This is the course of the female body as menopausal women are no longer looking to reproduce and as hormones decline, her sex drive follows suit.
Naturally, many women want to continue to enjoy a healthy, happy sex drive and find the lack of interest and subsequent vaginal dryness ... a little irritating.
5) Everything else
Many women do not realize that the hormone changes of menopause can induce night sweats, hot flashes, foggy thinking, hair loss, increased joint pain, skin changes, bone loss, insomnia, urinary leakage and more.
Ladies, take heart. Just because these symptoms are common does not mean they have to be your new normal, especially if they are interfering with daily life. Seek help if the anxiety becomes overwhelming, the sleepless nights are leading to exhaustion, the foggy brain and hot flashes are unbearable, and if sex is painful.
Testing for adrenal, thyroid and female hormones is very helpful for seeing the bigger picture and there are several options for treatment. Talk with your health care provider today or seek out an expert in the field of hormone changes.
1. Lampio,L., Saaresranta, T., Polo, O., and Polo-Kantola, P. Subjective Sleep in Premenopausal and Postmenopausal Women During Work Days and Leisure Days – A Sleep Diary Study. Web. 3 September, 2013.
2. Chlebowski, R., Cirillo, D., Eaton, C., Stefanick, M., Pettinger, M., Carbone, L., Johnson, K., Simon, M., Woods, N., and Wactawski-Wende, J. Estrogen Alone and Joint Symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Trial. Web. 3 September, 2013.
3. Bromberger, J., Kravitz, H., Chang, Y., Randolph, J., Avis, N., Gold, E., and Matthews, K. Does Risk for Anxiety Increase During the Menopausal Transition? Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Web. 3 September, 2013.
Reviewed September 4, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith