By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: July 13, 2022
You suddenly feel warm. Your neck and face are red, and you may be sweating. Or maybe you just feel like you are “at a simmer” all day. These are all signs of perimenopause and its hallmark symptom, the hot flash. While your mother or another relative likely filled you in on what to expect with menstruation, pregnancy, and motherhood, most women don’t talk about their experiences with perimenopause and menopause.
There are many changes associated with the menopause transition. In addition to hot flashes, you may have night sweats, sleep problems, weight gain, mood changes, vaginal problems, sexual function changes, urinary problems, headaches, cognition and memory challenges, joint pain, and bone changes…. The list goes on! These symptoms usually occur between the ages of 45 and 55 years, but some women may experience them earlier. And for some women, the symptoms of menopause can last 10 or more years.
Menopause is a natural part of life, and it happens to ALL women. In the United States, more than one million women undergo this life transition each year. The average age of menopause is 51 years. However, early menopause can occur due to surgical removal of or radiation to the ovaries, or because of chromosomal abnormalities.
Some women are glad to see the end of menstruation and welcome not having to think about contraception to avoid pregnancy; others experience embarrassing and debilitating menopausal symptoms, which interfere with their everyday activities and quality of life. But remember, you don’t have to accept or just live with the bothersome changes that come along with menopause.
The first line of defense against menopause symptoms should be lifestyle changes like paying more attention to eating right, exercising daily, and scheduling regular checkups and screenings. And if your symptoms are interfering with your daily functioning, talk to your healthcare provider about safe and effective treatments that can be individualized based on your individual symptoms.
Hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for moderate to severe hot flashes, night sweats, and the vaginal changes associated with menopause. Whether to take or not take hormones is one of the biggest decisions regarding menopause that a woman can make. This decision is a very personal one in which you must evaluate the potential risks versus benefits, as well as your personal preferences. Some women can’t or don’t want to try hormone therapy.
So what else is out there? New treatments that don’t target hormones are being studied, and they may be available in the near future. Since there is no single right answer to the challenges associated with menopause, it may take some trial and error to find the best approach for you. That is why it is important to consult with your healthcare provider, who can help you be better prepared to make an informed decision about ways to treat your symptoms.
It’s time for women to take charge of healthcare decisions that will carry them through the menopause transition and beyond. If you know what to expect during the menopause transition, you’ll be better prepared to make decisions that are right for you. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider and work in partnership to discuss your menopause symptoms and concerns. In this way, you’ll be able to figure out a plan to help you reduce hot flashes and other symptoms. This brief animated video and website with tools to empower you was developed to assist you in the process.