Hot Flashes Can Be All Consuming

Hot Flashes Can Be All Consuming

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Menopause Facts

I don’t think anyone actually ever told me anything about menopause. I had some (not all accurate) perceptions about what to expect, mainly gleaned from hushed conversations amongst my older relatives, comedians making jokes about hormonal rage and hot flashes, and the TV stereotyping menopausal women as grumpy and irrational.

Luckily we are all getting better at being open and honest about so-called embarrassing conditions, and hopefully this article will also go some way into letting anyone nervous about what lies ahead feel informed, prepared and reassured.

1. Hot Flashes Can Be All Consuming

If you asked anyone on the street to name one menopause symptom I would bet that the vast majority would say hot flashes. But the thing about hot flashes is that they sound like a minor side effect while in actual fact they can be, for some people, quite distressing.

We are not talking about a slight glow here – not even the heat you feel after an unexpected sprint to the bus. In my experience a full-on hot flash can affect your entire body, bring you out in a sticky sweat, distract you from whatever you were doing and send you heading for fresh air or the nearest fridge.

Luckily, if you find hot flashes are a problem there are things you can do to minimize their effect. Try wearing natural fabrics in layers you can strip off easily, and maybe carry a small antiperspirant and wipes to freshen up whilst out and about.

Sex Might Become Difficult

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2. Sex Might Become Difficult

This comes as a surprise to some newly menopausal women. Due to changes in hormone levels, with estrogen decreasing, you might find your intimate area becomes dry or you go off the whole idea of sex altogether.

Some women suffer with self-image issues, feeling old or hating the physical changes that menopause can bring like dry skin, weight gain and hair thinning – or even hair loss. It can be hard to accept that your baby making years are pretty much over or to feel young and attractive when society seems to label you past your best.

There are products available from your doctor or over the counter that can help with vaginal dryness. Lubricants and topical hormones or maybe even sessions with a counselor could help restore bedroom harmony. Many women find HRT taken orally or delivered through patches or implants helps, too.

You Can Get Pregnant During Perimenopause

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3. You Can Get Pregnant During Perimenopause

Do not rely on patchy or even seemingly non-existent periods as proof that you cannot get pregnant. Although statistically much less likely, it is not impossible – as legions of older moms with “menopause babies” can attest!

The general rule of thumb is since it’s not impossible to get pregnant while your hormones are fluctuating and you may occasionally ovulate, doctors advise using contraceptives until you have completed at least one full year without a period.

HRT Is Not Obligatory

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4. HRT is Not Obligatory

Many women quite rightly see the menopause as a natural stage of life, not an illness or condition. Some women are lucky enough to sail through that stage with few or no symptoms and can manage with no assistance.

Other women do have symptoms but would prefer to manage them with alternative remedies.

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HRT Is Not Evil

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5. HRT is Not Evil

On the other hand, the menopause is not some trial of womanhood and no one gets extra points for enduring distressing or inconvenient side effects of turbulent hormones with no assistance.

There have been horror stories circulating for years about HRT causing cancer and suchlike, but a chat with your health care provider should reassure you over any concerns.

You Will Gain Weight

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6. You Will Gain Weight

Weight gain is common, though not inevitable. Although decreasing estrogen can contribute to weigh gain, especially around the waistline, most weight gain is down to lifestyle factors like diet and lack of exercise and age-related loss of muscle tone. In addition the amount of energy you use while you exercise decreases.

Increasing exercise even by just building more walking into your daily routine can help, as can keeping an eye on portion sizes.

Your Bra Might Feel Looser

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7. Your Bra Might Feel Looser

Yes you might be wondering why your favourite bra does not fit as well as it did – it’s all down to that decreasing estrogen, which might cause your breasts to be less full.

Treat yourself to a proper bra fitting by trained staff and some new underwear, which will help you look great and feel more comfortable.

You Might Become a Night Owl

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8. You Might Become a Night Owl

There are a number of reasons why you might find you can’t sleep as well as you used to, waking in the night or suffering from insomnia.

Decreasing estrogen can cause lower magnesium levels – magnesium is the chemical that helps your muscles relax. An imbalance can make it difficult to fall asleep. Consider a supplement or try eating magnesium rich foods like dark chocolate, dried fruit, yoghurt and beans.

Night sweats and hot flashes can disrupt sleep too – make sure you sleep in natural fabrics, keep your room cool and consider keeping a water spray or fan handy to beat the heat.

You can take simple steps to help you get the best night’s sleep possible – cut down your intake of sugary foods and caffeine (remember caffeine is in chocolate and lots of beverages, not just coffee), get some exercise during the day, and try to stick to a regular sleep routine.

Try some relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation, which will help you fall asleep and go back to sleep if you wake in the night.

Read more about menopause, including how long you can expect symptoms to last, over at NewLifeOutlook.

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