Menopause is a subject that’s weirdly shrouded in mystery – but just like menstruation, it’s a natural process. Let’s talk through what menopause is, when it occurs, and how you can deal with the symptoms. Knowing what menopause entails can help you battle it with confidence.

What is Menopause, Exactly?

Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It occurs when your body’s estrogen and progesterone levels drop. As a result, you stop ovulating and no longer have your monthly period. Menopause also refers to various symptoms and bodily changes that a woman experiences before, during, and after she stops menstruating for good. 
Menopause can be emotionally draining – some people may be glad they don’t have to deal with periods anymore, while others might feel sad that they will no longer have their menstrual cycle. Dealing with mood swings and hormonal changes can be extremely difficult for some, while others might have an easier time. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s absolutely normal.

What are the First Signs of Menopause?

Perimenopause is the period of time when the body first displays various symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, and irregular periods. It can be disorientating when you first notice your body and cycle changing, but it’s not something to worry about. Menopause is a natural part of the life cycle for everyone who gets their period.

When Does Menopause Usually Begin?

Symptoms of menopause typically start a few months or even years before your last period and can continue for 7-14 years [1]. Menopause typically begins between ages 45-55 and is marked by 12 consecutive months without menstruation [2]

What are the Ongoing Symptoms of Menopause?

The most typical menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. Some women experience light incontinence, which means they may have trouble holding their urine before reaching the bathroom.
Dizziness, bloating, weight gain, mood swings, headaches, and loss of libido are all ongoing signs of menopause, too.

What Treatment Options are Available?

Many people find regular exercise to be beneficial in reducing symptoms of menopause, while acupuncture and hypnotherapy have both been found to be effective in tackling hot flashes and insomnia. 
In the past, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was the standard treatment, but recent research has found that HRT increases breast cancer risk by 75% [3]. Talk to your doctor and see what they recommend based on your symptoms. 
It’s important to talk to your doctor when you first notice the signs of menopause so you can get a blood test and talk about ways to keep yourself healthy and comfortable during this transitional period. Talk to the older women in your life, too - ask how they coped and what they suggest. Or just commiserate and laugh! Sometimes, that can be the best medicine.

Post-Menopausal Life

Assistance for navigating a post-menopausal life is available through Red Hot Mamas or find out more information on the CDC website.
Have you personally gone through menopause? We believe that our stories need to be heard, so we can listen, learn, and support each other. We invite you to share your story with us and other women just like you. 

Medical disclaimer

The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.

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