18 Things Every Woman Should Know About Menopause

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By: , – Jessica Girdwain, Family Circle
10/16/2012 6:00 AM   :  17 comments   :  23,633 Views

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Just like booking an Eat-Pray-Love solo trip abroad or visiting a plastic surgeon, bringing up the (formerly) "silent passage" is no longer taboo. Experts and real women revealed all about "second springs" for our by-the-decades survival guide. Read on to find out how to outwit, outplay and outlast the next chapter in your life. In Your 30s: What's Happening to Me? "By the time you reach 35, your fertility starts to gradually decline and it may become more challenging to get pregnant," says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., Family Circle Health Advisory Board Member and co-author of V Is for Vagina (Ulysses). Levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone slowly decrease, as do the number and quality of eggs your ovaries release. 
 
To-Do List

Become Your Healthiest Self. What you do now impacts how early menopause starts, how intense the symptoms are and how they affect your body. "Women who are in better physical shape before menopause are more likely to maintain a reasonable body weight and reduce their risk of disease after the change," says Dr. Dweck. So get into a good-health groove.
 
1. Bust Stress

Mini meltdowns will be happening. "Devise a go-to stress management technique to help alleviate menopause-related anxiety," advises Jennifer Landa, M.D., chief medical officer of the BodyLogicMD women's and men's health office in Orlando, Florida, and co-author of The Sex Drive Solution for Women (Atlantic). Try tai chi or yoga, or turn to technology by creating a peaceful playlist on your iPod and using sites like calm.com for guided relaxation
 
2. Drop Pounds

Carrying excess weight worsens menopause symptoms. Since your metabolism slows as you get older, find a physical activity you love now (biking, swimming, hiking) and eat healthfully to slim down and beat the "middle-aged spread."
 
3. Quit Smoking

Light up and your risk of early menopause rises by about 60%, according to a study in BMC Public Health. Quit at least 10 years before menopause and you'll be 87% less likely than current smokers to enter the change early.
 
4. Get Strong

Preserve your calorie-torching muscle mass, which decreases as you age, by strength training twice weekly. One big bonus: Resistance exercises also increase bone density to prevent osteoporosis.
 
5. Boost Nutrition
 
Phytochemicals, found in broccoli, kale and other cruciferous veggies, help your body keep hormones balanced. Ever-present B vitamins are involved in producing mood-regulating brain chemicals like serotonin. Build a healthy recipe repertoire now.
 
Click here for more information on menopause from Family Circle.
 
More from Family CircleWhat healthy choices are you making to prepare for menopause?


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Comments

  • DUVRANA
    17
    I think the importance of tracking symptoms and treatments shouldn't be overlooked either. You may be suffering through symptoms when you might not need to be. Either tracking with a journal or tracking on an app like myPause and sharing with your provider you can make decisions that will help you find what works for you. - 10/22/2012   5:20:40 PM
  • 16
    I thought I was suffering from perimenapause because I all of a sudden started having hot flashes daytime and night time. I mentioned this to my doctor and he told me there is a blood test that can be done to see if you are in peri- or menopause. It came back negative for me, which indicated something else was causing the hot flashes. Turns out it was asthma causing it. I am now on several medicines to manage my asthma and the hit flashes are eliminated when I take my medicine faithfully! Just sharing because symptoms are common for various types of health problems. It is important not to dismiss them as part of growing older and find out exactly what is causing symptoms that are affecting your quality of life! - 10/21/2012   2:33:48 PM
  • NMWELSH
    15
    I am going CRAZY with the periomenopausal symptoms. I read an article almost 2 years ago, I am now 39, and at that time I exhibited 15 of the 17 discussed symptoms. I mentioned this to my doctor, and my OB, neither seemed concerned. I now mentioned it to them again, because the symptoms have gotten to the point of me considering mental meds, and I really feel like a lot could be handled with hormone therapy rather than a mood-altering script. I feel like I am losing it, sometimes go off for no reason (Dr Oz called it menopausal rage), cry all the time about the stupidest stuff, and the insomnia is killing me! I bought a FitBit so I could track my sleep, and in the past week, I have awoken an average of 9 times per night! Astounding! And I wonder why I wake up feeling exhausted... off to bed. - 10/17/2012   11:04:35 PM
  • 14
    What a disappointing article! This isn't about MENOPAUSE. It is about what to do BEFORE MENOPAUSE -- which is a totally valid subject. But the title of the article indicates it is about menopause -- so you are reaching the WRONG audience! - 10/17/2012   7:48:43 PM
  • 13
    I could have used this information 30 years ago. I was forced into menopause at 28 by a complete hysterectomy. I am going through "menopause" for the 3rd time since them. Enough is enough!! Thank you for the tips. I quit smoking 4 years ago and went vegetarian last year so I am doing some good things already. - 10/17/2012   6:23:19 PM
  • BAMAJAM
    12
    LOLAMOM2--- has given valuable comments here! Although menopause can bring unpleasant conditions for many, I experienced no such problems. In fact, I can celebrate the cessation of my severe headaches. It is wonderful that I no longer suffer from painful headache attacks! My doctor said the same "benefit" happened to his mother. The hormonal change actually improved my life, and women should know that menopause sometimes is a blessing! - 10/17/2012   11:59:05 AM
  • KIWIBRIT99
    11
    I can attest to horrible symptoms during my menopause... and I hit it early! (at 40). Fortunately now at 46 the hot flashes, bouts of weepiness, insomnia etc are under control, (no more periods, hooray!) however getting back to my pre-menopause weight is my ongoing battle. It's nice to hear from other ladies dealing with the same issues. - 10/17/2012   9:39:00 AM
  • 10
    I'm glad to find out about calm.com. I'm in perimenopause and have fibroids. I can't wait for my menopause to start. I have the hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings and fibroid pain. I am looking forward to the day that I completely stop, the fibroids start shrinking and I get used a new normal. I am working on losing pounds to ease the stress on my body. - 10/17/2012   8:56:44 AM
  • 9
    2TIGRE I couldn't agree with you more. If you can lessen the symptoms by losing weight, exercising etc etc more power to you, but if you are suffering from debilitating symptoms, hot flashes that accompany week knees, feeling wobbly/feint or extreme moodiness don't hesitate to see the doctor and if you are able try HRT. It has also been a godsend to me as well, nine times out of ten, the lowest dose available will alleviate symptoms. - 10/17/2012   4:00:50 AM
  • 8
    I breezed through menopause with no side effects, No hot flashes, Not anything in fact I was almost always regular and stopped overnight and never had any problems.
    Now I am always cold and often think how I would like a hot flash but that is just not going to happen and after hearing about them I know how lucky I am. This week I was 69 years old and loving life, Pat in Maine. Way to go!. It does happen to some of us. - 10/17/2012   12:05:57 AM
  • 7
    I Had Hot Flashes From Being Overweight Years Ago. But Nothing Since I Stopped Menstruation. I Figured Mines Would Come Early Since I Started My Cycle When I Was 10. The Only Real Complaint I Have Is The Texture And Ease Of Doing My Own Hair Abruptly Changed The First Of This Year. I'm Getting Healthy And Eating Healthy. Working Out Is A Given And I'm Not Concerned About It. I Do Want To Be Able To Be My Own Hairdresser Like I Used To lol. Thanks For The Information. - 10/16/2012   5:15:52 PM
  • 6
    They left out one major factor - menopause has a very willful mind of its own and profound effects on a woman's body. What worked, before menopause, in terms of exercise and diet to keep weight off and fitness optimal, does not work as effectively afterwards. It's important to know this and to be prepared for it. - 10/16/2012   4:28:31 PM
  • 5
    I too am perimenopausal and have been for more than a year now. However, because I wasn't in very good shape or health when the symptoms started, I was absolutely miserable. The insomnia was horrible along with the night sweats and hot flashes (usually at 4am).

    The migraines were excruciating, much more so than the normal monthly headaches. Don't even get me started on my cycles that were so out of whack. In the two months before I started my weight loss journey (Jan 1, 2012), I had four periods and I'm not talking about a day of so of spot bleeding but rather four week long periods. Needless to say, I was borderline psychotic.

    It took a trip to the doctor to find out that my hormones were so completely out of whack and imbalanced. I immediately started a hormone replacement therapy, which turned out to be an absolute godsend.

    It's been nine months now and I feel almost 100% better. The periods are back on track and I'm sleeping sooo much better these days. Furthermore, I haven't had a migraine or hot flash in months. Lastly, I've been able to finally lose most of the weight that I had gained over the last few years. After losing 52lbs, I'm only 17lbs away from my goal. Something I would have never been able to do until I got my hormones under control.

    While some women may experience nothing more than some minor inconveniences during this time of their life there are so many others who will need some professional help to get through this time. Don't be reluctant to get the help you may need. It's so worth it. - 10/16/2012   1:44:10 PM
  • 4
    I've been in menopause for 15 yrs and never had a problem. I took HRT for 10 yrs and it worked great for me, as I didn't care about the negative publicity. I had a total hysterectomy at 48 and was glad to not worry about ovarian cancer, uterine or cervical cancer. Reading Richard Johnson M.D.;s wonderful book "THE SUGAR FIX" has explained Metabolic Syndrome to me and I recommend the book to everyone getting ready for menopause or in menopause. His lectures on Youtube are well worth watching. - 10/16/2012   1:35:39 PM
  • 3
    I went into menopause at the age of 40 because of breast cancer. Because my tumors were estrogen positive, my oncologist wanted me to go into menopause early. I had to have Lupron shots monthly for almost 3 years. The worst side effect has been hot flashes, but still, menopause has been so much better for me than when I was still having periods with severe cramps and bad PMS. I'm no longer on the Lupron, but the chemo I am on is keeping me in menopause at the age of 49. - 10/16/2012   1:11:53 PM
  • 2
    Please, young ladies, do not get all worried about menopause. Although some people may have extreme symptoms, I think it is important to emphasize that the vast majority do not. Many people, like myself, experience nothing more unpleasant than a cessation of the monthlies, as if that is a sacrifice! For most of you, rest assured that menopause will very likely turn out to be no big whoop. I can't tell you what a joy it is now to try to stick to a healthy nutrition and exercise plan without any interference from TOM. Just saying, I personally found that having the pain, mess, and mood swings of the monthlies is a way worse ordeal than menopause--and you've suffered them for a lot more years than it takes to complete menopause. - 10/16/2012   11:39:06 AM
  • 1
    I'm already peri-menopausal, but I do believe that increasing lean muscle (with a good strength training program) will help decrease some of the symptoms of menopause. I'm hoping that keeping myself in good shape, inside and out will help me transition with few symptoms.

    Reducing stress is probably the one thing I need to work on right now.

    - 10/16/2012   11:15:11 AM

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