What You Need To Know
I vividly remember watching the film Sex and the City 2 over a decade ago and laughing myself silly at Kim Catrall’s over-the-top performance as the sexy Samantha Jones dealing with menopause. Her declaration, “I am leading the way through the menopause maze with my vitamins, my melatonin sleep patches, my bioidentical estrogen cream, progesterone cream, and a touch of testosterone. I’ve tricked my body into thinking it’s younger,” seemed so humorous and overly dramatic at the time. Fast forward to 2022 and actually living it is not quite as funny. Although I do find that laughing at myself (and with my girlfriends) is extremely therapeutic and helps tremendously!
When most women think about menopause, the first images that come to mind are hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, vaginal dryness and a low sex drive. So, tell us something we don’t already know about “the change.” Well, it turns out there are plenty of additional side effects that few people talk about. These are 10 (not) really fun things no one tells you about menopause.
#1 | Hot Flashes Last Longer Than a Flash
Hot flashes are caused by a drop in estrogen levels, which impacts that gland that handles body temperature. When this happens, it can be prolonged, especially at night. Lowering the thermostat and using sheets made of breathable, cooling material can help. You can also try slow breathing or deep, meditative breaths to help decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
You can find some great options for bedding, pillows and pajamas that help you achieve a cool, comfortable night’s sleep here. And if you’re looking for makeup products that will help you save face suring hot flashes, check out this post.
#2 | You’re Gonna Need a Nap
Even if you are getting some rest at night, menopause obviously does a number on your sleep cycle. And, trouble sleeping at night takes a toll on your body, impacting energy levels, emotions, weight, and even your libido. Gynecologists say to try to squeeze in a 20-minute power nap every day. When you’re well-rested, it’s easier to manage your symptoms.
#3 | You May Feel Antisocial
If you’ve always been a social butterfly or a bit of an extrovert, you may be surprised when you suddenly feel like spending more time alone. Menopause can be an introspective time, so don’t just jump to the conclusion that you’re depressed. This newfound introspection should be honored. For many women, it’s a time in our life when we begin to put ourselves first. Many women prioritize kids, partner, parents and co-workers in their 20s and 30s. It isn’t until menopause when we realize we have to start taking care of our needs and start thinking about what WE want.
#4 | You May Have More Bad Cholesterol
Turns out estrogen does a lot more than help regulate our periods. It keeps LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) low and HDL cholesterol (the good kind) high. As estrogen decreases during menopause, LDL tends to rise while HDL stays the same. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, making sure you get plenty of exercise and eating a healthy diet, you can prevent these fluctuations. Here are some of Erin’s natural supplement suggestions for treating common menopause symptoms.
#5 | Your Heart May Skip a Beat
And I don’t mean in that fun, excited-about-new-love kind of way. In the time leading up to perimenopause and menopause, many women can experience heart palpitations. In some women, these palpitations could indicate a heart problem, but in others, it’s due to hormonal fluxes. If your heart palpitations last more than a few minutes, make you feel short of breath or cause you to feel faint, it could be a sign of something serious. The best advice is that if you’re concerned, get it checked out by a doctor.
#6 | Double-Down on Moisturizer
Oil production drops as your estrogen levels decrease, and that can cause excess dryness that leads to flaky skin. Use a richer, more hydrating moisturizer or facial oil to help your complexion. Some of our faves can be found here. Also, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated from the inside out. Drink plenty of water—it really does add moisture to parched skin. If there’s some good news, it’s that if you were prone to acne, decreased oil production may stop your breakouts.
#7 | Expect More Bad Hair Days
As if the hot flashes aren’t vanity-wrecking enough, with menopause comes some fairly bad hair days. Since your hormones are fluctuating, hair can become really dry and brittle. Opt for shampoos and conditioners that are mild and formulated for dry hair. Avoid chemical treatments that can further weaken your mane.
#8 | Expect Brain Fog
Since your hormones are changing, it’s common for women going through menopause to complain of what researchers sometimes call “brain fog”—forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that, yes, a woman’s performance on certain memory tasks tends to dip as her estrogen levels drop.
#9 | You May Not Lose Your Sex Drive
Finally, some good news! While decreased sex drive is common during menopause, for some women, the libido is better than ever. Your hormonal roller coaster means your sex drive won’t just dive into the depths of despair—it’s very likely to go up, too. Hormonal shifts can lead to dramatic surges in estrogen, which means you may feel a lot more in the mood. If you’re not feeling turned on due to vaginal dryness, there’s a fix for that. Lube, and lots of it. Click here for tips on having better sex after menopause.
#10 | Exercise Makes Everything Better
The type of weight gain you hear women talk about during menopause is true. Without sufficient estrogen, the body tries to maintain some body fat—especially around the belly and hips. Even women who exercise regularly and eat well can experience weight gain. However, sticking to your workout or even starting a new regimen can go a long way toward keeping the pounds from really piling on. It’s also critical toward improving your mood and helping you sleep. Erin shares her menopause weight loss journey here.
More Menopause Posts & Videos
Get Your Questions Answered! 10 Common Menopause Questions for Women Over 40
Going Through Menopause? You Should Try Vitamin K2 As Soon As Possible!
Menopause – What No One Talks About
My Secret to Losing 15 Pounds & Getting Super Toned During Menopause
What are some not-so-fun—or really positive—experiences you’ve had during your menopause journey? Please share in the comments below.
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