By: Guest Author
Published: June 12, 2019
Written by Brooke Faulkner- Guest Contributor
While most women experience symptoms of menopause between the ages of 45-55, some of us start to experience it earlier – sometimes even in our late 30s. If you’re within that age range and haven’t experienced menopause yet, there’s a good chance you’re at least thinking about it and how it will affect your life.
Menopause affects the amount of estrogen your ovaries produce. After you go through it, your body will produce very little estrogen. This not only causes certain things to happen during menopause itself, but it can increase your risk for specific health problems and conditions later in life. It also marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Of course, menopause is also a sign of aging. As we get older, our risk also increases for potential health problems. So, what sort of side effects can you expect during menopause and beyond? What can you do to treat some of these issues? Let’s take a look at some of the most common ailments associated with menopause and how they can affect you:
Because menopause causes hormonal changes within your body, it can make you more susceptible to yeast infections. Your body naturally produces a healthy yeast, but when hormonal changes occur, the vagina might start to produce too much of this yeast, which can cause a variety of complications. The common symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- Thick discharge from the vagina
- A white coating around the vagina
- Burning sensation
The irritation and burning sensation caused by a yeast infection can often make it easy to confuse with a UTI. But there are a few major differences between a UTI and a yeast infection. UTIs are caused when bacteria from the genital or anal areas enter the urethra. They can cause pain or a burning sensation when you urinate. Generally, UTIs have nothing to do with menopause.
A yeast infection can usually be treated with an antifungal medication. If it’s mild, an over-the-counter topical medication should help to clear it up. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to get a prescription from your doctor for an antifungal solution.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Menopausal women are 2.9 times more likely to experience symptoms of GERD than others. GERD affects the muscle between your esophagus and your stomach and often causes symptoms like heartburn or indigestion.
GERD occurs when the contents of your stomach return up to the esophagus through reflux. In menopausal women, the imbalance and shift of hormones can create problems with your digestive system. This often leads to bloating. The change in hormones can also relax the esophageal sphincter, which can cause acid reflux and symptoms of GERD.
If you do experience GERD as you’re dealing with menopause, talk to your doctor about different ways to ease the discomfort. For many people, GERD can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes. Eating smaller meals more frequently, avoiding alcohol, and reducing pressure on your stomach can make the symptoms of GERD feel less overwhelming and uncomfortable.
Keep in mind that having reflux once in a while isn’t abnormal. But, if the symptoms start to feel constant and are causing a lot of discomfort, it’s important to talk with your doctor about ways to find relief.
Other Symptoms and Health Risks of Menopause
Some women experience more intense symptoms than others as they go through menopause. There are plenty of stereotypes about hot flashes and mood changes during this time in a woman’s life, and while there is some truth to that, the symptoms are often no laughing matter to those of us experiencing them. Some additional common symptoms of menopause include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Urinary issues
- Changes in emotions
- Night sweats
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Weight gain
- Trouble concentrating
- Thinning hair
Even after menopause, the changes in your body combined with your age can put you at a greater risk for conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke. So, it’s important to take care of both your mind and body as you start to experience the first signs and symptoms of menopause. Boosting your healththrough diet and lifestyle changes can make a big difference in how you feel throughout this major shift in your life.
It’s also important to develop a close relationship with your doctor as you go through menopause. Having a doctor you can trust and one you know will listen to your concerns can make going through this change easier and more comforting. If you’re uncomfortable or nervous about sharing your symptoms, you can work with a reputable online doctor when it comes to asking common questions or looking for advice.
The best thing to keep in mind is that every woman experiences menopause differently. If you have questions, concerns, or you just need some support, help is available – and you don’t have to go through this experience alone.
Author Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and animal lover from Portland, Oregon.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.