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Challenges of The Change
In the years leading up to and after menopause—when you’ve gone a year without having a period—falling levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can trigger a variety of symptoms. One of the most common symptoms progressively turns up the heat.
Up to 75% of women experience hot flashes, according to the Office on Women’s Health. Hot flashes can feel like a wave of warmth that washes over your upper body, leaving you sweaty, sometimes with red areas of skin. These episodes can last only seconds or for several minutes.
Taking practical steps to keep cool can help manage hot flashes. You can run ceiling or desk fans and turn down the air conditioning at night to help keep hot flashes from disrupting your sleep. Identifying hot flash triggers, such as spicy foods or stress, can help you avoid them.
Hormone therapy, also known as hormone replacement therapy, can reduce hot flashes and other perimenopause symptoms by replacing some hormones the body nearly stops producing. This treatment can increase your risk for certain conditions, so talk with your primary care provider (PCP) or OB/GYN to find out if it’s a good option for you.
MORE SYMPTOMS AND HOW TO SOOTHE THEM
In addition to hot flashes, the menopausal transition may affect the body in different ways, including:
- Difficulty sleeping—Exercising, setting and sticking to a sleep schedule, and treating hot flashes may lead to a better night’s sleep.
- Loss of bladder control—Talk with your PCP or OB/GYN, who may recommend medication, physical therapy, or avoiding caffeine.
- Mood changes—To ease emotional ups and downs, stay active and get at least seven hours of sleep each night. These steps can also help with depression and anxiety—two more potential symptoms of menopause.
No matter what symptoms you experience—or whether they’re mild or intense—don’t just wait for them to disappear. Taking steps to control them can help you thrive during this time of change.