Let's start with a dose of reality - menopause isn't a fleeting moment. So often, menopause is discussed as if it is a blip in time that women experience momentarily. This perspective is misleading and can lead women feeling frustrated, and alone. When it comes to women's health, we believe there is power in knowledge and there is relief in support. As we move through this article, when we refer to menopause, we are actually referring to the entire era of menopause. There are actually three phases of menopause. Read on to learn about the phases and how long menopause symptoms can last.
Perimenopause and How Long Menopause Lasts
The menopausal era begins when hormone levels start to fluctuate and in turn, the body produces less estrogen. As estrogen production lowers, the phases of menopause are set in motion. Perimenopause is the first phase of menopause. This phase signals the beginning of the menopausal transition and typically happens about four years before a woman's last period. According to the North American Menopause Society, the average age a woman has her last period is 51. That means many women will begin to experience perimenopause around age 47 but some see changes in their bodies even earlier. These are only estimates though and women have a wide range of experiences. Some experience early menopause, having a final menstrual period around age 45 and begin perimenopause around age 41. Premature menopause is considered when a woman experiences her final period before age 40, meaning perimenopause hits earlier in her 30s. Factors that influence the age of perimenopausal onset include family history, having ovaries removed (clinically known as a hysterectomy), or receiving treatment for breast cancer. Suffice it to say, every woman’s journey is different.
The stage after perimenopause is menopause. Menopause is clinically defined as 12 months without menstruation. While you may have months where you don't menstruate at all, you haven't officially hit menopause until those consistent and consecutive 12 months without a menstrual cycle. Postmenopause is the final phase of the menopausal era. In this phase, you may still experience symptoms of menopause (more on that in the next section), but you are no longer menstruating at all. Postmenopause lasts on average four to five years. All in, the sum of all menopause phases amounts to about ten years. Don't fret! Menopause isn't the land where time is lost. Rather, it is an era of a woman's life where she is invited to live more aligned with her body and its signals. Besides, there are all sorts of options for managing menopause naturally.
Managing Symptoms of Menopause
Menopausal symptoms are a part of what gives this whole menopause thing a bad wrap. Mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, fatigue, brain fog, stress, disrupted sleep... We understand how each of these words lend an overwhelming weight. That being said, where there is a symptom, there is a solution for relief.
Let's start with the mental aspects of menopause. Mood swings, mood changes, brain fog, and stress. Sheesh! Sprinkle in the already uncertain climate we're living in thanks to COVID-19 and the stress may feel overwhelming at times. There's good news. There’s some plant-based ingredients that help level mood swings, decrease anxiety, and clear up brain fog. Ashwagandha and Pycnogenol are two herbaceous powerhouses that adapt to your body's chemistry to soften mood changes and clear up brain fog. Our Core Dietary Supplement addresses the seven most common menopausal symptoms, including mood swings, brain fog, stress, and fatigue. It can even support disrupted sleep, but more on that in a second!
Social groups can help ease the mental health challenges that menopause brings. Having a network of women who are also experiencing menopause can provide much needed support. We've created a Facebook group specifically for this reason! It’s a safe space for women in their menopausal era to come together, share their thoughts, and brainstorm solutions together. No topic is taboo - we discuss everything from menopausal incontinence to postmenopausal intimacy. Please join us!
Sleep and menopause don't always jive. Menopause-induced insomnia can be brought on by night sweats or nothing at all and and lead to sleepless nights. Our Sleep Enhancing Dietary Supplement supports you with superstars Ashwagandha and Pycnogenol, but also has another key player that helps with the sleep issues: Melatonin. With both of these supplements, they're clinically proven to bring about substantial relief with regular use. Not bad!
Vaginal dryness is yet another signal of the menopausal era. Vaginal dryness occurs due to lower levels of estrogen in the body. What ensues is discomfort, lower sex drive, pain during sex, and even vaginal bleeding. Remember when we said where there's a symptom, there's relief? Introducing our Daily Vaginal Lotion... It’s filled with nourishing humectants, vitamin E, coconut oil and more for instant relief. When we say instant, we're not exaggerating - women report experiencing pain relief after just one use. The lotion is paired with an applicator that conforms to the curves of your body, delivering relief right where you need it the most with no mess.
A Holistic Approach to Hot Flashes
One of the major menopausal symptoms, hot flashes, tend to contribute to sleep problems (hello night sweats) and affect the overall quality of life for menopausal women. Lifestyle changes can help weather these ongoing heat waves. Avoiding triggers like spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine can decrease the occurrence of hot flashes. Opt for breathable fabrics when it comes to your wardrobe - natural fibers like cotton, silk, and linen tend to keep the body cool. It is the era of coronavirus too, so you may want to opt for a mask made of those natural fibers as well.
Things to Remember in Menopause and Beyond
As you ease into your menopausal transition, there is some information we want to leave you with. First, this is a time when other health concerns may come into the picture. None of this information is to cause alarm. Rather, it is an opportunity to become empowered with knowledge and a solution. Also, a good reminder that just because your period is irregular don’t assume your fertility is on pause. Pregnancy can occur during perimenopause, so chat with your healthcare provider about best birth control options.
Lifestyle changes during menopause is key. As your estrogen levels begin to lower, your bone density may lower as well, thus increasing risk of osteoporosis. Make sure you're getting plenty of calcium and maintain an active lifestyle to keep your bones strong. An active lifestyle and healthy diet is also important to offset the likelihood of developing heart disease, something menopausal women have an increased risk for. Weight gain can also be a health concern during this time, so this balanced lifestyle will serve you well as you continue your evolution. Keep up with annual visits to your gynecology expert and women's healthcare provider to stay on top of all of these changes your body is experiencing.
As your menopause transition evolves, you may be presented with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a treatment option for some of the symptoms you're experiencing. Hormone therapy isn't an option for everyone. It has been known to have side effects, including a link to increased risk of breast cancer. Yikes! There's no shame in anyone's game, but we feel it’s important to share as much information as possible with you as we unpack menopausal evolution.
Antidepressants are another treatment option often recommended to help curb menopausal symptoms. Again, some antidepressants can have pretty intense side effects, so be sure to do all the research before making a decision (YOU HAVE THIS IN OTHER ARTICLES - MAYBE LINK TO ONE OF THEM. IF YOU PUT THE TITLES IN HERE, WE WILL ADD THEM WHEN WE PUBLISH). That being said, if you're noticing you're experiencing enduring mood changes in addition to other menopausal symptoms, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider for more clarity on the best solution for you.
NOTICE: KINDRA DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL OR HEALTH CARE ADVICE. OUR EMPLOYEES AND OTHER REPRESENTATIVES ARE NOT PHYSICIANS OR HEALTH CARE CLINICIANS. YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR PERSONAL PHYSICIAN FOR ANY MEDICAL AND/OR OTHER HEALTH CARE ADVICE BEFORE ACTING ON ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED BY KINDRA OR ANY OTHER SOURCE
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