What’s going on with me?? Something’s off but I just can’t put my finger on it?
Have you been feeling like this lately? The answer could be that you are either experiencing perimenopause or menopause. Menopause is defined as the time in a woman’s life that marks the end of her menstrual cycle. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in North America. An unprecedented 2.7 million Canadian women -one in six – will reach menopause over the next decade. Today, more women than ever face the many disruptive symptoms that can accompany the transition towards this major life event.
Symptoms of peri menopause and menopause:
- Changes in menstrual cycle – Up to 80% of women are skipping periods regularly by their mid forties
- Changes in skin
- Vaginal Lubrication: mucosal membranes
- Tissue elasticity
- Bladder irritation
- Sleep apnea/ Snoring – Sleep disruption due to hot flashes is actually the most affected part of a menopausal woman’s life. And the issues regarding sleep specifically during menopause can lead to other issues, such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, and more.
- Bone production – By age 40, many women have already had changes in their bone density.
- Blood vessels
- Pain tolerance
But rather than fearing or dreading this transition, be informed and armed with information that can actually empower you to become more in tune with your body than ever before. So, to that end, we plan on posting a few articles on menopause to support you through this transition.
The hormones at play during the transition to menopause
The main hormones during menopause are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
During menopause, your hormones are fluctuating almost daily. Though genetics plays a role in how you go through menopause, they are not the main determining factor. You actually have great control over your hormones based on lifestyle factors.
To help you understand the changes you may experience as you transition to menopause, here are some possible symptoms you may experience due to hormones being either high or low.
Some symptoms of Low Estrogen are:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- Vaginal dryness (thinning or irritation)
- incontinence, bladder infections
- mood swings (irritation & depression)
- mental fuzziness
Some symptoms of High Estrogen are:
- bilateral pounding headaches
- recurrent yeast infections
- breast swelling and tenderness
- nausea, vomiting and bloating
- leg cramps
- yellow tinged skin
- heart palpitations
Some symptoms of Low Progesterone are:
Progesterone – Levels fall in peri-menopause, often before changes in estrogen or testosterone
- premenstrual migraine
- PMS symptoms
- Irregular or excessively heavy periods
- Mood swings and/or anxiety, nervousness, depression
- Itchy, twitchy legs
- Heart palpitations
- Sugar cravings
- Weight gain-Hot flashes
- Mid night waking (not necessarily insomnia)
Some symptoms of High Progesterone are:
- tender breasts
- Water retention
- Increased appetite
Symptoms of low testosterone are:
- diminished well being
- unexplained fatigue
- Decreased sexual desire
- Thinning/loss of pubic hair
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Decrease in bone density – osteoporosis
- Achy joints
- Reduced muscle tone in bladder & pelvis (urinary incontinence)
- Dulling/brittleness of scalp hair
- Skin dryness
- Atrophy of genital tissue
Yes, many of the symptoms are the same for being high or low in each of the hormones which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor, naturopath or other health care provider about getting your hormones levels tested. This will provide you with critical information about what’s happening in your body as you transition through menopause.
Other factors to consider are your thyroid and vitamin D levels. Each of those has a list of symptoms related to them being deficient or overactive as well. A great website for further information on hormone health, balancing hormones and resources is https://hormonesbalance.com/
The one constant strategy for dealing with hormone imbalances, regardless of which ones are out of balance, is lifestyle. The better shape you are in – physically, nutritionally, mentally, metabolically, spiritually and situationally going into menopause, the more balanced the journey.
At Durham Pelvic Health believe it’s so important to treat the entire patient – mind and body. We assess all aspects of your health to help determine the best plan of care for your unique needs. Please call us today for a free 15 minute phone consult or to book your appointment. It’s time to put yourself first!!