Menopause: It’s that time of life where you’re just as likely to break down crying at the grocery store as you are to snapping at the next person who tells you good morning. If you’re at the age for menopause, you will start experiencing a lot of body and hormonal changes that can leave you feeling depressed, anxious, angry, and just plain worn out. You may also feel relieved at no longer having to deal with a period or empowered to be embarking on a new stage of life. Whatever your experience, menopause can also affect those around you. Here’s what the people closest to you need to know to support you through menopause.
Perimenopause typically happens around a woman’s mid- to late-40s, and it usually lasts an average of four years before the onset of menopause. During perimenopause, the body is starting to transition into menopause, and the ovaries may start producing different levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Because of these fluctuating hormones during perimenopause, your menstrual period might start being irregular. Your period could be heavier or lighter than normal, or it could be longer or shorter than normal. You could also start missing your periods altogether for a few months.
Feel the heat yet? Because you most likely will. With perimenopause comes possible hot flashes. You may also experience other symptoms during this time, including mood swings, which can make this time especially stressful and frustrating, sometimes making it difficult on your marriage. Symptoms may not be obvious to your loved ones, so let them know if you need a little space or time for yourself.
Be aware it’s still possible to get pregnant during perimenopause.
Menopause begins when a woman hasn’t had her period for 12 months in a row. Reduced levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone typically trigger menopause symptoms.
To help your husband understand what you’re going through, share your menopause symptoms, which might include:
- Changes in sexual desire
- Depression or anxiety
- Hot flashes
- Irregular bleeding
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
Getting the Help You Need
Menopause is a time when you can look back proudly to all you’ve achieved during the first half of your life, while making big family, career or retirement plans for the next decades. However, many women have some menopause-related challenges to work through first. As you deal with menopause symptoms, enlist others to support you. Possibilities include:
- Help you lead a healthy lifestyle. Because of low estrogen levels, you are now more at risk for diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke. Let your loved ones know they can support you by eating healthy foods with you and joining you in physical activities.
- Pay attention to your emotional state. If you experience occasional sadness, feel free to ask for comfort or encouragement (or your favorite movie).
- Remain calm and kind. When your hormones are all over the place, you may speak more sharply than the people around you are used to hearing. Work on communication and problem-solving together as you navigate mood changes.
For answers to your questions about menopause symptoms, find a women’s health services provider at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.