Your period has been a nuisance for most of your life, but once it goes away, new annoyances replace the cramps and bleeding. Menopause isn’t an event; it’s a process, and a unique one at that. Every woman experiences the symptoms differently and to differing degrees.
Some women breeze through the journey with few complaints, but others have severe symptoms that disrupt their lives and affect their health. Either way, it helps to have an expert in your corner who can help you navigate the way and treat the symptoms that get out of hand.
Amy Maron-Martinez, ARNP, at Optimized Wellness in Centennial, Colorado, specializes in hormone imbalances, the culprit in your menopausal woes. She helps women understand their menopause symptoms and know when to seek help for them. Here are eight of the most frequently experienced symptoms.
The first thing most women notice is that their periods are less reliable. If your periods have never been regular, this point may not apply to you. But if you’ve always been able to anticipate the first and last day of your period, you might be surprised when it’s suddenly late or stops for a month or two and then returns.
Likewise, if you could once count on a heavy first day and a gradually lighter flow throughout the week, you might experience flow changes as well.
These fluctuations can continue for months or years leading up to menopause, which is considered official when you’ve gone 12 months without menstruating.
The hot flash, one of the most common symptoms of menopause, affects about two-thirds of women in this country. The cause isn’t entirely clear, but we know the blood vessels close to the surface of your skin suddenly dilate, or widen, in an attempt to cool you down. It may be related to a change in your circulation or your hypothalamus, which controls your body temperature.
And because hormonal changes can affect your hypothalamus’ ability to regulate your temperature, you may also get cold flashes. This may happen spontaneously or immediately following a hot flash, causing chills and shivering.
Akin to hot flashes, night sweats strike when you’re sleeping and can drench you in perspiration from head to toe. Many women have to crawl out of bed and change the sheets and their pajamas, which means they get inadequate sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to a slew of health problems, as your body can’t rest and regenerate overnight.
Naturally, severe night sweats can disrupt your slumber, but it’s not the only thing that can ruin your rest. Women with lower estrogen and progesterone tend to be more prone to sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that interferes with your breathing during sleep. Menopause-related depression and anxiety may also contribute to sleeplessness.
As your estrogen levels decrease during menopause, everything reliant on estrogen changes as well, and this includes your vaginal environment. With plenty of estrogen humming through your system, your vaginal walls were thick, soft, and pliable. But once you lose that supply of hormones, the skin thins and dries out, which can make sex painful.
Another effect of menopause, the ever-slowing metabolism, leads to weight gain in many women. But this is different from the weight issues you may have experienced in your younger days. Most women in their child-bearing years store weight in their hips and thighs, but during menopause, you tend to gather it in your belly. This visceral fat layer lives under your muscles, hangs around your organs, and puts you at risk for diabetes.
During menopause, your body isn’t only changing internally; it’s changing on the outside as well. For example, many women experience thinning hair or hair loss as their hormone levels drop. You might even notice your menopausal breasts have become tender and begun to shrink and sag. This is the natural progression of aging as your body transitions from childbearing and milk-producing to the stage in your life when you no longer need these functions.
Going through menopause isn’t a medical crisis; it isn’t even considered a medical condition. But we understand that the symptoms can become so severe that they put you at risk for some serious complications.
That’s why Amy Moran-Martinez offers bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to ease your symptoms and help make the transition more comfortable. There are no daily pills to remember and no patches or suppositories to deal with. We offer a pellet form that’s inserted under your skin where it can deliver precise doses of hormones exactly when you need them.
If you’re tired of your menopause symptoms and need some relief, call our office or book an appointment online to find out if bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is right for you.