So. Your official menopause date has passed. (That’s a year after your last period in case you were wondering).
But Hilda Hot Flash and her evil stepsisters haven’t gotten the message. The fun rages on long after that date has come and gone.
What’s up with that??
The ability to cruise through menopause with nary a hot flush or mood swing relates to your balance of estrogen and progesterone. If the levels of these two hormones play nicely and drift down slowly, you’re likely to avoid hot flashes, night sweats and most of the 58 other symptoms of perimenopause.
Your experience can also depend on your body type. If you’re carrying extra weight, you’ll generally have fewer hot flushes and night sweats because fat tissue makes estrogen. However, you may experience more problems with symptoms that relate to estrogen fluctuation or decrease such as mood swings, fatigue, decreased sex drive, and insomnia.
There’s Good News and Bad
Suffering is NOT required!
Now for The Bad News
Many of my patients ask if this will go on forever. For most women, hormone levels will even out and symptoms will go away ….. but it can take 5-10 years. For a small minority, symptoms CAN come and go well into the seventh and eighth decades but this is not the norm. There’s no way predict who will experience what, although there is a genetic link between your symptoms at menopause and your mother’s. So, if you can, ask her about what she experienced.
Love up Your Lifestyle
The best place to start managing your symptoms is by making lifestyle changes. You do not have to do them all at once. Take a baby step approach! Pick one to work on and move on to another as your new habits become part of what you do.
- Exercise (manages cortisol which improves estrogen levels)
- Lose weight (reduces estrogen levels)
- Avoid excess alcohol (alcohol increases estrogen production)
- Manage stress (decreases cortisol; cortisol can block progesterone receptors)
- Avoid xenoestrogens (reduces estrogen levels)
- Eat fiber (removes estrogen and improves estrogen balance)
Although it is impossible to tell when your menopause symptoms will end, you can make your journey easier by making small changes. Supplements can also be helpful. Chasteberry and DIM are two that can help to restore better hormone balance, while herbs such as black cohosh and red clover act like estrogens (called isoflavones) in the body, thus helping with symptoms of low estrogen like hot flushes and night sweats. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying these if you have other medical conditions such as a history of breast cancer.