Women know that transitioning into menopause is a natural part of life. For some, this occurs in their early forties, while other women are still suffering in their fifties and wondering if it will ever end.
Here are five facts about menopause that may prepare you a little more for what lies ahead:
1) There is no test to determine how long perimenopause will last or when menopause will start. Unfortunately this has yet to be developed and the timeline definitely varies by woman. Typically, women follow the women in their family such as their mom, aunts, grandma and sisters.
Some women have mild symptoms for a couple of years while others experience severe symptoms that are ongoing. Symptoms do seem to wax and wane and can change over the course of this transition and rest assured, it does not last forever.
2) There is no “cure” for menopause. Many women want to know if there's a pill they can swallow to take it all away. Unfortunately, that depends.
Some experience a lot of mental emotional changes that requires different treatment for those who are having hot flashes and night sweats. And as this can change, the treatment may change. This is why it is important to educate yourself about menopause.
3) There are options for treatment. While there is no “cure,” there are a number of options including natural supplements, vitamins, hormones, and different medications. As menopause involves change, it is time to change your diet and exercise routine. It is time to get more sleep, focus on stress response, eat healthy, and do what makes you happy.
4) The weight gain is normal, but it's not fun. Many women report an increase in weight around their abdomen without changing their diet or exercise routine. The Mayo Clinic has suggested that on average, women gain about 12 pounds within eight years of menopause because of hormone changes, decrease in muscle mass, and increase in fat.
Extra diligence is needed to cut out sugar, eat healthy, focus on protein and vegetables, and maintain muscle mass.
5) Irregular bleeding is expected in perimeopause but any bleeding postmenopause is a problem. As women get closer to losing their menstrual cycle altogether, their periods usually come and go at random times.
Sometimes they will skip a few months, sometimes it will come every few weeks. Sometimes it is quite heavy, sometimes it is quite light. As the ovaries begin to shut down, they become very erratic.
Once a woman stops bleeding completely for 12 months she is considered post-menopausal and should not bleed again. If she does, she needs to talk with her health care provider right away.
By understanding the course of menopause better, one can be better prepared to expect the unexpected. Talk with your health care provider today about hormones, testing, and treatment options to help make it a smoother journey.
1) Mayo Clinic. (2014). Menopause Weight Gain: Stop the Middle Age Spread.
2) Munro, M., Southern California Permanente Medical Group’s Abnormal Uterine Bleeding Working Group. (2014). Investigation of Women with Postmenopausal Uterine Bleeding: Clinical Practice Recommendations.
Reviewed September 16, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith