Maybe you’ve missed a period. Or maybe you’ve just been feeling … off. And you’re over 40. So now you’re wondering if you’re just tired or if you’re starting perimenopause. Here’s the thing, if you match the other descriptions, it’s likely that you are entering perimenopause. So now what? You’re in the right place. Get your questions answered! We’re answering 10 common menopause questions that women over 40 frequently ask. For more information to help you on your menopause journey, make sure you check out all of our menopause posts here. Here are a few great posts to check out first:
11 Tips To Have Better Sex After Menopause. Ready For Great Sex?
The 5 Positive Things You Don’t Know About Menopause.
Going Through Menopause? You Should Try Vitamin K2.
How I Lost 15 Pounds & Got Super Toned During Menopause
#1 | What Exactly Happens During Menopause?
During perimenopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. That drop signals to your body that your childbearing years are nearing the end. Keep in mind that while the overall levels of your hormones are going down, in a single day, their production may increase. That’s where the swings in temperature and mood come in. Those surges or reductions cause you to have the symptoms you have. After 12 months of no period, you’ve reached menopause. In many cases, perimenopause symptoms start to ease. Although, some women continue to experience vaginal dryness and hot flashes after menopause.
#2 | Can I Prevent Menopause?
In a word? Nope. Menopause is going to happen. There are things you can do to ease the symptoms, but menopause will happen. If you’re looking to ease menopause symptoms, these supplements could help.
#3 | What Are The First Symptoms?
Yep. Missing your period is a good sign you’re hitting menopause. But there are other symptoms to look out for too including:
Lighter or heavier periods
Horrible, or at least worse, PMS
The symptoms of menopause happen because of the changing hormone levels. As you move through perimenopause, you could have seasons where your symptoms are stronger than others. Eventually, your hormones find a new balance, and your symptoms should ease.
#4 | What Are The Uncommon Signs?
While the symptoms above are also some of the most common perimenopause symptoms, there are other symptoms that you may not immediately link to menopause including:
Nausea from unstable estrogen levels
Extreme body odor
Incontinence (more reason to strengthen your pelvic floor no matter how long ago you had your last baby)
*If you think you are experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor, so they can rule out any other conditions that may be causing them*
#5 | How Long Does Perimenopause Last?
That depends. Perimenopause is the time period when you start heading toward menopause until the time you stop getting your period. You need to go one full calendar year without a period before you’re considered to be menopausal. The average length of perimenopause is four years. But remember, that’s the average. It can be more or less, even to extremes.
#6 | How Can I Avoid Weight Gain?
In perimenopause and menopause, our metabolism drops, so what we did to balance what we ate before may not work anymore. But don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to weight gain. To help reduce it, make sure you’re eating high-quality carbs and that you’re getting enough protein. It also helps to lift heavy weights (heavy lifting is a bonus for your bones too). See how Erin lost 15 pounds and got toned during menopause here.
#7 | Why Does Menopause Affect My Mood?
Changing hormone levels don’t just throw your body for a loop. They can also cause you to experience mental symptoms too. If you’re feeling overly irritable, weepy, or depressed, these can be signs that you’re in perimenopause. Just like period symptoms, these symptoms vary in degree from person to person. If you feel your emotions are becoming too much for you to handle, make sure you talk to your doctor. They can help you sort through your symptoms to help you find a solution.
#8 | Are There Any Increased Risks?
The dropping levels of estrogen can cause our bodies to also change the production of other chemicals. These imbalances can lead to a higher risk of some diseases and conditions. The most common are:
#9 | Should I Still Use Birth Control?
You can still get pregnant while you’re in perimenopause. Sure, it’s pretty uncommon. But until you reach full menopause, you should believe there are still eggs in play. So, unless you want to have a late-in-life baby a la Halle Berry, make sure you use birth control every time. And many doctors recommend you continue with birth control for a year after you’ve hit menopause- just in case.
#10 | Why Is There A Stigma Surrounding Menopause?
Well, because we don’t really talk about menopause. Since we’ve been conditioned as a society to see younger women as more valuable – theoretically, they can pop out offspring– in the past, menopausal women have been put out to pasture. But just like Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues” smashed through the stigma of using the actual biological name for our “lady parts,” talking about menopause will make the stigma fade. Allowing younger people to see what a real woman is like when going through menopause, will make it normal and not a bizarre condition. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to menopause. Each person will have a different experience. But we can start opening up the dialogue around menopause to normalize it. When we show that we are real women going through menopause and can still be active, vibrant, and powerful, we take down the stigma of menopause brick by brick.
How open are you to talking about perimenopause and menopause? Do you share your experiences? Let me know in the comments. Let’s open that dialogue!
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