Here are a few lesser-known truths about menopause that could make the change easy to handle.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on January 22, 2021. It has since been updated.
Menopause is natural though many women might fear the arrival of it. With so many varied opinions and accounts of the symptoms and changes your body will go through from friends, family, and the internet, it might seem scary. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction and that could put you through a lot of stress. And sometimes, you wish someone there were some realities that you were told before it happened.
Well, here are five things that you need to know about what it is like to go through menopause.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 70% of women experience hot flashes and night sweats. However, not every woman has to go through it. In a 2016 study published in the journal Menopause, it is stated that while some women may experience "early onset" where they might start to feel the symptoms a decade before their final period, some women have a "late onset" and don't actually have hot flashes until after their final period. And then there are the lucky few who never have a hot flash. Essentially, hot flashes can vary from one woman to another.
Contrary to popular belief, your menopausal symptoms can actually be reduced. And it can be done through regular exercise. JoAnn Pinkerton, an obstetrician-gynecologist and executive director of the North American Menopause Society says, “Growing evidence indicates that an active lifestyle with regular exercise enhances health, quality of life and fitness in postmenopausal women.”
She also mentioned that not only will this result in fewer hot flashes, if you have them, but also a better mood. Including certain plant-based foods in your diet, too, can help in reducing vaginal dryness, another symptom of menopause. According to Medical News Today, an herb called black cohosh is one of those foods.
The Sleep Foundation states that women going through peri-menopause all the way to post-menopause, report the most sleeping problems. So your lack of satisfaction with your sleep or if you have insomnia could be caused by this cycle. In fact, as many as 61% of women report insomnia symptoms.
This is due to the varying levels of estrogen in your body which could cause you to constantly wake up in the middle of the night and leave you with the inability to sleep once awake. Some of the treatments to help reduce this include hormone replacement therapy, a healthy diet, some exercises, wearing lightweight clothes at night and even lowering the amount of stress and worry you have to deal with.
Your libido during menopause also differs from other women. While some may find that they don't desire sexual interaction as much anymore, there are some women who still enjoy a healthy libido during menopause, says Medical News Today. While the decreased level of estrogen can lead to vaginal dryness and also cause pain during sex, it can, however, be remedied through using water-soluble lubricants or doing simple exercises every day.
Due to the drop in estrogen during this time, your body's fat-storing function causes the fat to shift from your hips and thighs to the stomach. It is also true that as you get older, it can be difficult to control your weight. But looks like there's a light at the end of this tunnel after all. Based on a 2003 study published in the Society of Behavioral Medicine and shared on NCBI, it was found that the 535 premenopausal women who participated in the study were able to avoid gaining weight.
It even found that they were actually able to lose weight by following a 1,300-calorie diet and burning 1,000 to 1,500 calories a week. So you can too. Most experts recommend aiming for at least two hours and 30 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, which can also give you more energy and brighten your mood.
Menopause can be difficult to deal with but it doesn't have to be something that you fear. If you want to find a treatment that is more suited for you, consulting the right doctor can be the way to go.