Menopause occurs in a woman's life when the hormones and eggs in the reproductive system change and close out the ability to have children. Women have a limited number of eggs in their lifetimes, whereas men can keep reproducing sperm their whole lives. The menstrual periods get further and further apart and then they stop completely. Twelve months after one's last period is when one is considered to be fully in menopause.
During menopause, some symptoms occur which are related to the hormonal changes. These are not set in stone, meaning you may not suffer from one or any of these. Everyone is an individual and moves through the life changes a bit differently.
Common experiences include:
- hot flashes during the day, meaning a flash of bodily heat and loads of perspiration released simultaneously (sometimes followed by a feeling of one is freezing)
- hot flashes at night, and then the cold flashes which follow, as the body uses sweat to cool us off
- body core temperature is lower than normal all of the time
- cold hands, head, and feet
- mood swings
- sleep problems
- vaginal dryness
- low sex drive
- loss of hair
- brittle hair
- weight gain
- weight loss
- appetite changes
- bladder control issues
So, what are we to do? Here is my story. My doctor kept me on contraceptive pills until age 55 and then when the hot flashes began (age 53), she added an antidepressant which was not prescribed because I was depressed. The off label use for the antidepressant is that it commonly helps with the sweats. These methods worked for a few years. Then about a year ago, the sweats were like the Pacific Ocean, all day and night the waves kept coming. Time for something new. I am off of the medications because they no longer work. I went off of the antidepressants a few weeks ago.
It caused me to have a tightness in my whole back and neck. My body was trembling a lot for a week and my heart rate increased. I felt like I heard buzzing in my head with tones. I was high, like I was on medication after my knee replacement surgery, but I wasn't on pain medicine anymore. I had trouble focusing on one subject and could not calm down unless I was in my bed and holding a hot water bottle.
After I did some research, and asked my kind female friends to share their experiences, I changed tracks. I am on some herbal supplements which I read about in Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing. I take plant estrogens in the form of isoflavones, which mimic human estrogen in the body. I take black cohosh, dong quai, chaste berry, and red clover. These are prepared in pill, capsule, or tea form, with specific ratios. I asked a naturopath advisor for the brands that will help with my symptoms. As always, please consult your health practitioner.
May you grow in wisdom as you age. Then share the wisdom with the world. We need you!