menapause

Marching Through Menopause

You’re in your 50s and feeling different. You haven’t been sleeping very well, feel moody and slightly more anxious. You think about the last time you had your monthly period and realize…it’s been a few months. You are likely entering menopause.

By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.

Menopause is a stage in life when you stop having your period for at least 12 months. This means you no longer ovulate (release eggs from your ovaries) and are unable to get pregnant.1 The reason for this change is because your body slows down the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are essential for fertility.2 It is the hormonal fluctuations that your body is trying to adapt to that result in the changes you feel.1,3

Yet, it’s a normal part of life that all women go through. So – rather than being nervous about it, use the following tips to march through menopause!   

Perimenopause: the transition to menopause 

The time before you officially enter “Menopause” is called “Perimenopause”. This is when you begin to notice certain changes. It is useful to recognize these to help you manage menopause.4

Managing Menopause: Practical Tips

Besides missed periods, some women experience the following:3,4

Hot Flashes

Have you ever been really embarrassed and felt your face start to blush and your body begin to sweat? This is similar to the feeling of a hot flash. It’s a sudden onset of heat, usually felt on your face and neck that makes you feel warm.5   

Tips to manage hot flashes:6 

  • Wear layers so that you can take them off if you experience a hot flash.  
  • Keep your environment cool.  
  • Avoid certain foods and beverages that trigger hot flashes. These include hot and spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol.

Difficulty sleeping

Research shows that approximately 40% of women in perimenopause have sleep disturbances.3 This is especially true if you have hot flashes at night.4  

Tips to sleep better:

  • Try to relax before bed; avoid using a computer or watching TV right before you go to sleep.7  
  • Avoid eating a large meal or consuming caffeine before bed. Eating a small snack can help you go to sleep.8
  • Be physically active during the day. People who participate in physical activity at least 20-30 minutes per day tend to have better sleep patterns.8, 9
  • Keep cool (in case you have a hot flash at night)10

Personality changes (moodiness, irritability)

There is no conclusive evidence that states that the personality changes experienced during menopause are the direct effect of hormones.4 Rather, they may be related to stress that can occur when some women under manage changes.4 It is extremely important to have good coping methods in place.

Tips to manage personality changes:

  • Take some time for yourself.  Make sure you give yourself enough time to relax and unwind. Read a book, have a relaxing bath, do yoga – whatever makes you feel less stressed.
  • Call on your family for support. Let them know what you are going through and ask them for their patience.  It is important that everyone in your life understands that what you are experiencing is normal and not something to be mocked.
  • Proper nutrition, exercise and sleep are all important in helping level out your mood. Ensure you are following a balanced diet and participating in physical activity daily. This will also help improve your sleep, which will help improve your mood! For lots of great articles and tips on improving your nutrition or to get motivated for physical activity, check out chicken.ca/health.

Seeking out Support

You will likely have questions as you enter the stages of menopause. Speaking with your physician is important as they can help you better manage your transition.   

The following link is to a questionnaire from Menopause Canada that can help you assess the stage of menopause you may be entering and how to cope: http://www.menopausecanada.com/profile-landing.aspx

By becoming informed you are empowering yourself to approach menopause with a positive attitude and outlook on the future! March on through!

References:

  1. Menopause Canada. (2012). Learn about Menopause. Retrieved December 24, 2013, from http://www.menopausecanada.com/about-menopause.aspx
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Menopause and Hormones. Retrieved December 24, 2013, from http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/byaudience/forwomen/ucm118624.htm
  3. Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. (2013). Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause. Retrieved December 23, 2013, fromhttp://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Perimenopause_Rocky_road_to_menopause.htm
  4. The North American Menopause Society. (2013). FAQ: Body Changes & Symptoms. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.menopause.org/for-women/expert-answers/faqs-body-changes-symptoms
  5. Stöpple, M. (2013). Hot Flashes. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.medicinenet.com/hot_flashes/article.htm
  6. MayoClinic. (2011). Hot Flashes: Lifestyle and Home Remedies. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hot-flashes/DS01143/DSECTION=lifestyle%2Dand%2Dhome%2Dremedies
  7. WebMd. (2013). Nighttime Computer Users May Lose Sleep. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20030620/nighttime-computer-users-may-lose-sleep
  8. WebMd. (2012). An Overview of Insomnia. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/insomnia-symptoms-and-causes?page=2
  9. Helopguide.org. (2013). How to sleep better. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_tips.htm
  10. Breus, M. (2013). Menopause and Sleep. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/menopause/features/menopause-and-sleep
  11. Menopause Canada. (2012). Menopause Symptom Profiler. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.menopausecanada.com/profile-landing.aspx

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