As women transition through menopause, many can be nervous or scared about the changes that are occurring in their bodies and what aging will do to them. However, menopause can sometimes be difficult to identify, especially as it has many symptoms that women typically don’t associate with it, such as fatigue, weight gain and muscle weakness. Hormonal imbalances also occur during this time, which sometimes should be treated by hormone replacements. Find out how to manage menopause and what the signs of it are with these tips!
Why Does Menopause Occur?
As women age, their bodies begin to transition into menopause, which occurs once menstruation stops. Many women experience symptoms of menopause during their mid-forties and into their fifties until they finally have their last menstrual period. Menopause is officially diagnosed one year after you’ve had your last period, and although it can occur at any time during these years, the average age is 51 in the U.S. Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs whenever a woman’s body stops producing as much estrogen and progesterone, which are sex hormones. Certain medications, environmental factors, stressors and diet can cause hormone imbalances and influence early onset menopause. Although age is the number one reason why women go through menopause, hysterectomies and surgery to remove the ovaries can also cause women to go through menopause earlier on in life. If you are not taking hormones after a hysterectomy or similar surgery, you will immediately go into menopause, no matter your age.
After menopause, it’s recommended that you continue meeting with your doctor for preventative health care, which may include health screenings like a mammogram, colonoscopy, or breast and pelvic exams. Your body is at a higher risk for osteoporosis and arthritis during this time, as well, so it’s important to be consuming sufficient amounts of calcium to keep your bones strong.
Signs & Symptoms of Menopause
For some women, menopause is an easy transition while others struggle with pain and hormonal imbalances that disrupt their daily life. There are some obvious signs of menopause that most women are familiar with, like irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings, changes in libido and weight gain, but some symptoms are hard to discern between menopause or illness. Some women will experience brain “fog” where they have trouble remembering things, while others will experience muscle weakness and body aches. Sleep problems, thinning hair and loss of breast fullness are also signs of menopause, but not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. Headaches are also common during this transition, but just because you’re experiencing a headache doesn’t mean that you’re going through menopause.
During the menopausal transition, women’s bodies aren’t producing progesterone and estrogen like before, making their bones less dense and vulnerable to fracture. You might think that your brittle bones are from osteoporosis but they’re actually changing due to your hormone imbalances. These hormones also affect your energy levels, so it’s not uncommon for menopausal women to feel fatigued even when they’ve had plenty of rest. Fat cells change as hormones dip during menopause, making it easier to gain weight during this time, which can be difficult for many women.
How To Know If You Need Hormone Replacement
Since women’s hormone production completely changes during and after menopause, some will need to receive hormone replacements to keep their bodies at equilibrium. The hormones in our bodies are all interconnected, so a change in one will affect all the others. Menopause typically upsets the balance between all of these systems, so an evaluation will be necessary to determine which of your hormones isn’t working correctly and how to treat it. During an examination, your thyroid levels, sex hormones and adrenal function will all be tested to better understand what is currently happening within your body. Once we have a baseline of your health, a treatment plan will be formulated according to your needs. Before we prescribe you hormone replacements, though, we will first try implementing lifestyle and nutritional changes to encourage your body to naturally regulate itself. Only a small percentage of women will actually need hormone replacements, so don’t worry yourself about that until you have had a thorough examination by a medical provider.
Learn How To Age Well With Our Help!
At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, Dr. Alessi and her team are experienced at helping women have a successful transition through menopause and maintain optimal health. If you have questions about what to look out for or how to take care of your body during menopause, call our office at (970) 631-8286 to schedule a consultation. Aging doesn’t need to be a difficult process, so call today to begin your journey to wellness!