Many women tell us that their mothers and other women in their family rarely shared their experience with peri/menopause, which can mean that a lot of us fall into this life cycle with no understanding of what is to come. We want to shed light on some of things you could expect, with a Menopause FAQ.
General questions you might be experiencing before, during, and after peri/menopause:
Q. How old will I be when I enter into peri/menopause and how long will it last?
A. Peri/menopause is the period of years leading up to menopause (which is clinically defined as 12 consecutive months without a period). Peri/menopause lasts on average from 5 to 7 years, but has been known to last upwards of 13 years. Most of the time, peri/menopause occurs in women between 40 and 45 years old. Menopause typically occurs in a woman’s 50s, with the average age in the United States being 51. Though rare, it can also happen earlier, based on several factors. Women as young as 17 have experienced menopause, often due to underlying medical or health conditions.
Q. I'm younger than the average peri/menopausal woman. Am I in early menopause?
A. If you think you’re in early menopause, how can you be sure? Well, you’re not technically in menopause until your period stops for a complete year, but there are some signs that may give you a hint or two.
Common symptoms among women in early menopause include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings
- Abnormal bleeding during last menstrual periods
- Rapid weight gain and bloating
If you are experiencing these symptoms, or any others that make you wonder about your hormonal and menstrual cycles, you should consult your doctor as there may be underlying concerns that need to be addressed. We recommend that you track your symptoms and see what triggers might be making your symptoms worse. Share these findings with your doctor and devise a health care plan to address them.
Hot Flashes/Night Sweats
Q. Why am I having hot flashes?
A. Hot flashes are caused by hormonal changes that impact the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus regulates body temperature in the body. It also regulates:
As you can see, the hypothalamus has a lot to do with the symptoms of menopause. The hypothalamus both signals the body to release hormones and is impacted by hormones, so it can get confused as hormone levels change. The best way to help your hypothalamus is to assist your body with estrogen production, either in the form of phytoestrogens (plant compounds that mimic estrogen in the human body) or by deconjugating (recycling) your body’s own estrogen with probiotics.
Q. How long do hot flashes last?
A. Hot flashes often come on suddenly, but how long any single hot flash lasts will vary.
Some hot flashes pass after a few seconds, while a long hot flash may go on for more than 10 minutes. On average, hot flashes last about four minutes.
Some women experience a few hot flashes per week, while others may have several an hour. Depending where you are in peri/menopause, that can change.
There are a range of treatments and lifestyle changes that may help lessen the symptoms and frequency of your hot flashes.
Q. Which foods should I eat to help with hot flashes?
A. Avoid triggers like caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. According to an article from Everyday Health, the Mediterranean diet (a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and healthy fats) has positive effects on reducing menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes and weight gain. The article also mentions that women who ate a higher intake of fruits and vegetables combined "had more energy and physical activity compared with individuals who reported a lower intake." In a June 2018 article in Maturitas, women who ate a vegan diet "report[ed] less bothersome vasomotor and physical menopausal symptoms than omnivores."
Q. How can I ease night sweats?
A. Night sweats are one of the most common symptoms of peri/menopause. The rise and fall in your hormones can make it difficult for your body to control its core temperature, especially at night. They can also make it difficult for you to get a good night’s rest.
Q. So what can you do to keep night sweats from destroying your sleep cycle?
- Avoid triggers like, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods before bed
- Exercise in the afternoon, before 5 pm
- Relieve stress before bed (reading, drawing, etc.)
- Take a cold shower before bed
- Wear light, breathable pajamas
These are just a few things you can do to help lower your night sweats. You can give your body additional help with our probiotic supplements. Our supplements are designed with specific probiotic strains to help give your body the nutrients it needs to better regulate itself, including vasomotor symptoms.
Q. How can I get a good night's sleep through peri/menopause?
A. Insomnia affects thousands of women as they go through menopause every day. Women find themselves having more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings are just some of the things that menopausal women may experience, in addition to insomnia. In fact, most women who experience insomnia during menopause report waking up in the night due to extremely uncomfortable hot flashes, called night sweats.
Insomnia and night sweats are both symptoms of peri/menopause. In fact, many women experience the two simultaneously. Night sweats can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Overheating and sleeping in a puddle of sweat is not the most comfortable sleeping environment. This can make it more difficult for women to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for longer, contributing to sleep deprivation.
Q. So what can you do to sleep better and keep night sweats at bay?
A. Here are a few tips for you to try:
- Avoid looking at screens, like computers, cell phones and tablets, 30 minutes before bedtime
- Drink water 30 minutes before bedtime
- Place fans by the bed
- Take a cold shower before bed
- Do something to help destress
- Wear breathable pajamas
Getting enough sleep is paramount to your health, so be sure to do what you can to make your sleeping environment as comfortable as possible.
Q. Where did my libido go?
A. If you choose to watch Netflix over spending some intimate time with your partner, menopause might be to blame. Estrogen levels are lower, which leads to less blood flow to your vagina. As a result, arousal and stimulation are not so easy, and you may not enjoy sex as much as you did before. Menopause can affect your libido, but probiotics might be just the right thing to help you improve your sex drive.
Q. Can I still get pregnant while in peri/menopause?
A. Once a woman enters perimenopause, the general thought is that she can't get pregnant, but this isn't the case. There is still a chance that women in peri/menopause can become pregnant, as their sex hormones are not completely depleted at this stage. Getting pregnant becomes more difficult as you age. If you see someone around you have a child at the age of 45 and up, this means they most likely tried very hard to become pregnant. As you near menopause, you have less regular ovulations, and that is one of the reasons why conceiving a child is much more difficult around that time. But with enough knowledge and patience, you can still become a mother even at this stage of your life.
Q. Why am I so angry all of the time?
A. Mood swings result from the drastic hormonal changes that are going on in your body. As you go through peri/menopause, your ovaries produce less of the reproductive hormone estrogen. Estrogen plays a role in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin impacts the entire body. It is the principal hormone responsible for stabilizing moods and maintaining feelings of happiness and well-being.
Q. How to deal with weight gain during peri/menopause:
A. There are many factors to consider when it comes to midlife weight gain. For example, did you know that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of weight gain? When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies increase levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. At the same time, levels of the fullness hormone, leptin, decrease. This imbalance of hormones can cause us to eat up to 300 more calories than we need a day and increase the amount of fat our body absorbs and retains.
According to Healthline, women may be gaining weight during peri/menopause due to hormonal changes that take place during this stage of life, including a drop in estrogen levels, which is associated with reduced energy expenditure and metabolic dysfunction.
Even if you are working out/staying active and eating right, your body may be responding to foods in a new way. Try an elimination diet to see how your body reacts to cutting out foods like dairy, sugars, meat, wheat, and corn products. Your body is going through a lot of changes, and even though you may have eaten a certain food your entire life, your body might be reacting in a negative way during midlife, which could be causing weight gain.
Q. Which foods should you eat, and which should you avoid during peri/menopause?
A. Menopause can present a slew of challenges for women. Physical symptoms, psychological symptoms, and emotional rollercoasters can make it hard for a woman to to focus on her health with the clarity she needs. So how can women better support their overall health when they’re being bombarded by peri/menopause symptoms?
Adhering to a balanced diet is a good first step in reestablishing some balance to a woman’s health concerns. Millions of women are turning to lifestyle changes to help them manage their menopause symptoms. Making changes to diet is one of the best ways to do that.
Q. What are some ways women can adjust their diets to better reflect their menopausal health needs?
- Eat more fiber. Fiber helps stimulate healthy gut bacteria.
- Drink more water. Water helps maintain body temperature and metabolism.
- Get enough essential nutrients. Eat a variety of food groups to get the most nutrients possible.
- Avoid symptom triggers. Caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars, and high-fat foods can all contribute to menopause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain.
Just by making these small changes, women can better support their health as they go through peri/menopause. It’s an easy first step to take, but it does take time to adjust. Give yourself ample time and positive thinking when approaching lifestyle changes, no matter how small they may seem.
Q. Why did I start getting zits again?
A. According to Dr. Rajani Katta, the most common places for hormonal acne are the chin and jawline. Women who are dealing with hormonal acne usually get those red pimples that come from under the surface.
Most studies agree that acne can be triggered or worsened by dairy. This has been linked to several things; the artificial hormones, the natural growth hormones from whey and casein, as well as the combination of dairy and high levels of refined foods which disrupt insulin levels. You may love dairy, but unfortunately the best and only way to see if dairy is a contributing factor to your acne is to remove dairy completely from your diet and see how your skin reacts.
Are there any questions we didn’t answer? Let us know what you would like to know so we can share with the rest of the MenoLife community. Email email@example.com or comment below.