erimenopause is the time before menopause, which can sometimes lasts as long as ten years, and usually starts for most women sometime after they turn forty years old. If you’re a woman, you are going to experience perimenopause and menopause at some point. The best way to be prepared is to know the symptoms, and know what you can do to alleviate them.
To get you started, here are list of common symptoms, and women can suffer from all of them, some of them, or none of them.
- Concentration problems or forgetfulness
- Heart palpitations
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Irregular, heavy, or long-lasting menustrual cycles
- Joint or muscle pains
- Loss of bone density
- Mid-cycle bleeding
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness or pain
- Weight gain
Okay, now that you know the symptoms, here’s some great tips on how you can alleviate them, and how you can sail through the whole process unscathed.
- Concentration and Forgetfulness. I may be well past menopause, but I still have these problems. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not just human nature and my lack of willingness to be focused. However, if you feel your concentration has declined or that you forget things, doctors often recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to help with this problem, so talk to your doctor if you have symptoms.
- Heart Palpitations. This is fairly common, and the best way to relieve this symptom is to take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. The palpitations are not serious and will pass. So, breathe deeply and just relax, relax, relax.
- Hot Flashes/Sweating. The first I learned was to carry a folding paper fan and dress in layers. You’ll be putting on and taking off clothing with each hot flash. Another help for many women is black cohosh, which is supposedly so effective it can reduce hot flashes by as much as 85%. The usually dose recommended is 40 mg. daily of Remifemin. Although layers and Remifemin help, perhaps, the best advise is to exercise because women who do so regularly suffer far fewer hot flashes or sweating complaints than those who don’t exercise.
- Incontinence. This is one of the more common symptoms, and as many as 40% of all women suffer from it. Of course, it’s not always related to menopause, as pregnancy and child birth don’t help the situation either. Incontinence occurs around menopause when estrogen levels drop because estrogen is responsible for blood flow, which strenghens the bladder and urethra muscles. So, when the estrogen levels drop, so does the strength in those two areas.Kegel exercises are the best thing to tighten your pubococcygeus (PC) muscles, but you need to do them correctly or you could possibly increase pressure on your bladder. Do ten Kegel’s, three times a day, and you will see positive results within a month to six weeks. Here’s the Mayo’s Clinic version of how to do them properly.
- Insomnia. The first thing you need to figure out is the cause of your insomnia. If it’s related to hot flashes, try to treat those first. If you’re mind won’t shut off, try relaxation techniques. Make sure you’re getting enough exercise and make sure you’re not drinking caffeine late in the evening. If all those things fail, and if you continue to suffer from insomina, many doctors have found that 10 mg of Ambien seems to do the trick for peri- and post-menopausal women.
- Irregular, Heavy, or Long-lasting Menustrual Cycles. Problems such as these can sometimes be controlled by birth control pills, although they may also indicate other gynecological problems such as polyps or fibroids. So for these conditions, it’s best to consult a doctor and work together to achieve a solution.
- Joint or Muscle Pain. Exercise is the best cure for joint and muscle pain. I also know that tart cherry juice is known to relieve muscle soreness, so, you could give it a try.
- Loss of Bone Density. To ensure you maintain the bone mass you have, you need to take a calcium supplement. My doctor recommends Citracal Calcium Citrate with vitamin D. Both my doctor and the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommend you take 1200 mg to 1500 mg once you begin perimenopause and perform 30 minutes of weight bearing exercises everyday.
- Mood Swings. Mood swings can be related to a number of things and don’t necessarily have anything to do with menopause, according to a study in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2001. The best you thing you can do is ensure you get plenty of exercise and a good night’s rest. Additionally, St. John’s Wart is known to lift and regulate moods, as do prescription anti-depressants.
- Vaginal Dryness or Pain. In order to prevent vaginal dryness, it helps to have sex, which I’m sure will please your husband. Sex also increases blood flow and can reduce incontinence problems. If sex doesn’t seem to eliminate your dryness problems, use lubricants or moisturizers or talk to your doctor.
- Weight Gain. Gosh, why does everything lead to weight gain and why couldn’t the side effect of menopause be weight loss? Sorry, but on this one, it’s just the same old standard practical advice, eat less and exercise more.
You may have noticed, I don’t have information about soy.
To learn more about menopause and breast cancer, an internationally known expert on women’s issues, Dr. John R. Lee’s has written two books: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Hormone Balance
and What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life.