by Marcelle Pick, OB-GYN NP
Fatigue. Weight gain. Hot flashes. Low libido. Hair loss. We hear from dozens of women each day at Women to Women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause. According to these women these symptoms are the most troubling and motivate them to find help.
As one friend shared with us on Facebook, “People should NOT tough it out or chalk their symptoms up to ‘getting old.’ There is HELP.” Listed below are some beneficial hints for acquiring the relief you need. Some symptoms are a touch more complex and may respond best to an additional comprehensive approach.
What you’ve said: “Ever since my periods stopped, I’ve had so much fatigue. It varies like a roller coaster, but at times I’m so physically exhausted I can’t do anything. I want to stay home all the time.”
Why fatigue happens: Sporadic sleep is one of the most common problems we see during perimenopause and menopause. Hormonal balance depends on sufficient rest and optimal nutrition. And your ability to rest and make good dietary choices directly affect your hormonal balance. Relief tip: Take two minutes a day to just breathe. Find a relaxing spot where you can be alone for a little while to reflect. Take time to notice your breathing, each breath, in and out. When we take a little time to return to our center, and to reflect on our own needs, we can start to find an infinite supply of energy.
What you’ve said: “I’ve had it with gaining weight, depression and feeling tired all the time. I can’t work out when I have don’t have any energy.” Why it happens: Changing hormones can alter how we store weight. When your body undergoes stress (such as in menopause) it stores up calories as part of its “survival mode.” The typical American diet doesn’t help. Relief tip: Try to decrease your intake of refined carbohydrates. Try eating more high-quality protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and some fruit. Be mindful of carbohydrates. By including extra fiber and healthy protein in your diet, you can help your body retain steady blood sugar levels, and you’ll be less likely to store away those calories as fat.
What you’ve said: “I’ve started perimenopause early. Hot flashes especially affect my scalp. I have sweat running down my face and neck from my hair.” Why hot flashes happen: When you experience a hot flash, the heat-regulating sensor in your brain picks up a signal that your body needs to get rid of heat. Perceived stress can bring on a hot flash in a second. So can some foods and drinks, such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and hot spices. Relief tip: Wear layers of clothing. Try choosing several thin layers of clothing so you have the option of removing the layers if you start to feel warm. It sounds very simple, but it really can reduce stress to plan what to wear ahead of time.
What you’ve said: “I’m so tired of not being interested in sex.” Why low libido happens: Physical changes, such as vaginal dryness, may make sexual activity painful. It’s not uncommon for women to experience a decrease in libido during menopause. Relief tip: Know your options. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and make sure you’re getting enough omega-3 essential fatty acids to help support cell membranes. If this doesn’t help, vitamin E suppositories can help restore thin vaginal tissue. It’s important to be informed! You have more options than lubrication!
What you’ve said: “I started losing handfuls of hair in the shower. I knew then that I had to find help.” Why hair loss happens: Our hormones are connected to the growth and shedding cycle of our hair in an intimate way. An imbalance between estrogen and testosterone can contribute to thinning hair. Some women only begin to notice this during menopause or perimenopause. Stress also plays a role here, as it affects the scalp and it affects the adrenal glands which in turn affect your hormones. Relief tip: Vitamins and minerals are essential to healthy hair. Be sure you’re getting vitamins B (especially B6 and B12), C, D, and E, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, and fish oil with essential fatty acids. Don’t forget the trace minerals as well.