Menopause has long been faced with dread and written off as something you just have to deal with as a woman. It’s symbolic of a shift in life from one era to another and comes with physical and emotional effects that are often unwelcome. While there’s no way to stop menopause from happening, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it—there are strategies and methods to ensure that this new phase of life is just as incredible as each one before it.
Menopause is the phase in life when the ability for a woman to reproduce comes to an end. It is when the ovaries are no longer releasing eggs and the hormone estrogen becomes less abundant in the body. The decrease in the hormone estrogen leads to physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Most women recognize the common ones like hot flashes and night sweats, along with mood changes, often hearing about them from female relatives earlier in life. Less discussed symptoms that can happen include trouble sleeping, pain during intercourse, weakening of the pelvic floor, and vaginal dryness. It also impacts the mind, and women going through menopause may experience depression or anxiety related to the shift in hormones and have to face the unwarranted stigma of going through “the change.” Knowing what to expect during menopause helps make it easier to cope with, as knowledge helps you prepare for this natural process.
What Else Does Menopause Affect?
It’s common knowledge that older women are prone to fractures, but there’s a biological reason for why. The decrease in estrogen levels during menopause makes it harder for the bones in the body to maintain their strength, leading to a higher risk of fractures. Estrogen also protects against certain cardiovascular risks, but as hormone levels decrease, the risk of heart disease begins to increase. While these effects of menopause aren’t as visible as hot flashes, they’re just as important, if not more so.
Menopause often begins between the ages of 45-55, but it can occur later in some women. Before true menopause, women may experience a phase known as perimenopause, which begins when changes in the menstrual cycle and symptoms of menopause are first detected. Think of it as pre-menopause, when the body is transitioning between two phases of life.
When Is Menopause Considered “Early?”
Early menopause is when a woman experiences it prior to the age of 45. This can be the result of cancer treatment, autoimmune conditions, or procedures such as a hysterectomy. There can also be a family history of early menopause where women of a particular lineage tend to experience it at a younger age.
Perimenopause can last for years, and it turns into full menopause once a woman has gone an entire year without a period. Menopause often lasts around seven years, with symptoms lessening over time. The postmenopause stage then becomes the “new normal” for a woman, and the degree of continued symptoms varies.
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity has been shown to improve bone density, which can decrease with the loss of estrogen. An active lifestyle has also been proven to reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
- Have good sleep hygiene: Sleep is important, so try to get 8 hours each night, and use strategies such as no electronics in bed to help improve the quality of your sleep. Finding ways to supplement healthy sleep patterns with stress management techniques can also be helpful.
- Eat a balanced diet: Focus on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources to help your body get the nutrients it needs to remain healthy and energetic.
- Avoid stimulants: Substances like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can worsen symptoms of menopause. Do your best to limit intake, and monitor how your symptoms respond to it.
- Lean on family and friends: Menopause is a huge life change, and it’s one that comes with a lot of emotional and social baggage. Talk with trusted friends and family about how you’re feeling. You’re not alone, and the support can be immensely helpful.
- Consult medical and wellness professionals: Knowing how to deal with menopause includes exploring treatments with medical professionals as well. There are both hormonal and non-hormonal ways of treating menopause and its symptoms, and it’s important to work with certified professionals to do so safely.
How Acupuncture Helps With Menopause
One approach for menopause treatment includes acupuncture, which uses thin needles at various points in the body to stimulate receptors, release endorphins, and affect cortisol levels, among other effects. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings in menopausal patients. A key benefit of acupuncture is that it doesn’t have the side effects that can happen with medications, which are sometimes worse than the original complaint. Acupuncture has also shown some positive outcomes for anxiety and mood swings as well as helping to improve sleep quality.
Aging is a beautiful process that we all go through, and menopause is a natural part of that. You deserve to enjoy those years with grace, comfort, and confidence. Reach out to us at 615-439-2900 to schedule a consultation for a customized health plan with our professional, board certified acupuncturist Cris Octa del Rosario, L.Ac right here in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Explore how acupuncture can improve your quality of life by relieving the effects of menopause.
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