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Menopause: Coping with the Symptoms

Posted May 02 2008 5:01pm
Menopause marks the end of menstruation. During the transitionary period both leading up to and following the last period, women enter perimenopause. Throughout this time, which typically begins in a woman's late 40's, the ovaries no longer respond predictably to the brain hormones that are released during the menstrual cycle. The ovaries fail to produce an egg each and every month, resulting in irregular periods and sometimes lighter or heavier bleeding and shorter cycles. Ultimately, the ovaries fail to produce an egg and menstruation ceases.

It is during the perimenopausal time period that blood hormone levels change and women have to contend with a host of symptoms. Now, these symptoms range in severity and do not affect all women equally. In fact, most women only experience a few of them, primarily hot flashes. But how do women cope with all this change? And what are the other symptoms exactly?

So, here they are. The symptoms of menopause include:
  1. Backaches
  2. Fatigue
  3. Insomnia
  4. Mood changes
  5. Memory lapses
  6. Headaches and hot flashes
  7. Hair becomes thin and dull
  8. Teeth loosen and gums recede
  9. Breasts droop and flatten
  10. Nipples become smaller and flatter
  11. Risk of cardiovascular disease increases
  12. Skin becomes drier and rougher
  13. Abdomen loses some muscle tone
  14. Incontinence may occur
  15. Bone mass decreases and bones become more brittle
  16. Vaginal changes (dryness, itching, shrinking)
  17. Body hair thickens and darkens
Looking at the above list, you can see that proper diet and exercise, especially strength-training, can help cope with the 2 most severe symptoms (11 and 15), which can lead to heart attack and osteoporosis. A healthful lifestyle of regular diet and exercise also may tackle many of the other symptoms including backaches, fatigue, insomnia, mood changes, breast drooping and loss of abdominal tone.

Meditation is perfect for increasing brain function and improving memory, while several vitamins and dietary supplements can deal with insomnia, hot flashes, mood changes, memory lapses, thinning and dulling hair, risk of cardiovascular disease, dry and rough skin, and decreasing bone mass.

If you are contending with some or many of the symptoms of menopause, know that you are not alone. There are several resources online to help you understand and deal with the plethora of changes in your body. Deal with them and emerge into the next stage of your life with vigor and abandon!

Take care of yourselves and share some of your challenges with us when you can.

Sandy
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