Menopause: Navigating an Important Rite of Passage
When many women turn 45 or older, they may begin to notice physical and emotional changes as they begin to navigate what is referred to as perimenopause, a period up to 10 years before actual menopause. Some women may begin to experience hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, insomnia, and anxiety. While some women seem to sail through the transition from perimenopause to menopause (the absence of periods for 12 consecutive months), others find it to be a very tumultuous time. Many women find that despite a good exercise regime and good diet, that they tend to gain at least 10 pounds or more over a period of time.
Hormonal changes can also wreak havoc on oneâs skin. Loss of estrogen can cause dry skin and a loss of elasticity in some. Self-esteem can be adversely affected as women try to assimilate all of the changes that seem to suddenly occur. While there is still great controversy over HRT (hormone replacement therapy), many women have turned to bio-identical hormones (synthesized in a lab but produced from natural soy or yam) to alleviate or eliminate symptoms. These hormones can be found over the counter or can be prescribed by a physician for prescription strength. While many women continue to take the synthetic hormone, Premarin, the trend seems to be towards taking more natural substances. While some physicians believe that bio-identical hormones are perfectly safe, there is still controversy regarding this issue. It is up to each woman to access the risks and benefits in order that she may make an informed decision.
Bio-identical hormones can potentially relieve hot flashes, anxiety, insomnia and a whole host of other symptoms. However, they do not come without their own side effects. While many do not realize this, taking estrogen and progesterone in large doses and for long periods of time, can put one at a higher risk for acid reflux and possibly weight gain. While this may not happen to everyone, it can happen to many. Always discuss your options with a competent doctor or health care practitioner.
Finding ways to relax during this potentially tumultuous time may help to manage symptoms. Exercise is key, particularly weight bearing exercise, as well as eating a healthy and nutritious diet. Support from friends and loved ones can go a long way as well. Meditation can also help with stress.
Perimenopause, menopause and post menopause can be a challenging time of life. But, it can also become a time of self-empowerment as women come into a new passage with greater wisdom, courage and strength.