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Menopause for Dummies....

Published:

Say hello to the biggest dummy of all time, when it comes to menopause.  Me.  Most doctors I have had the displeasure of knowing will not take the time to answer all of my questions regarding this particular phase of life.  So,  I would like to put an official list on the Internet so those looking for answers like I was can find them here.  Perimenopause can come on anywhere between the ages of 35 and 60, depending on your family history, lifestyle and dietary habits. 

Possible symptoms of Perimenopause:

 

Hot flashes

Mood swings

Decreased sexual drive

Increased sexual drive

Weight gain

Difficulty concentrating

Heart palpitations

Migraine headaches

Irregular and /or heavy periods

Involuntary urine release and bladder urgency

Insomnia

Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse

Panic Attacks

Nerve endings causing a rash around the neck (possibly other areas too)

 Aching joints and muscles

Chin whiskers

Night sweats (When you have a hot flash at night, drenched in sweat)

Thinning hair

Sudden chills after a hot flash.

 

 

What's causing all the ruckus?  These are physiological responses to the body's declining level of estrogen.  And it is all a perfectly normal and a natural process of life.  It is that dreaded "Change" we've all heard so little about.

Not every woman will have symptoms of perimenopause.  Most women do not have every symptom listed above.  75% of women who report having symptoms of perimenopause report having hot flashes.  So chances are good, you will too.  The best defense against these are drinking plenty of cold water throughout the day and taking a multivitamin that includes ALL of the B-vitamins to help regulate body temperature.  Often times, this will put an end to them right here.  But there are plenty of options available, including Hormone replacement therapy, lifestyle changes, behavioral changes, or dietary changes.  LOL That's why they call it "the change."  You have to change everything.  Explore them all. 

You will notice most of the symptoms are anxiety related. The Migraines, insomnia, nerve rash on the neck, heart palpitations and panic attacks can all be helped by listening to classical music.  Vivaldi, Mozart and others in d minor.  It has been reported that this kind of music will work with the alpha waves in your brain., creating relaxation.  "Elevator music" is what I always called it, but it works pretty good most days.  Try not to eat a lot of meat.  Eat vegetables and carbohydrates.  And keeping your weight in check will be a huge benefit.  LOL  I know this sounds like a contradiction in terms, "eat carbs and keep your weight in check."  Believe me, you will feel better.  Walking daily only 30 minutes or an hour will help to reduce stress significantly.  If you can not do this, as I was agoraphobic for a while, buy a treadmill and try that.  Or walk around your home while others are there to make sure you are okay.  Don't be afraid to do this.  I know how scary it is to worry about passing out and no one being there to help you.  If 30 minutes doesn't help you sleep better at night, try an hour.  If you feel like you need a better workout, please feel free to do more.  All you can do is help yourself at this point.  The more exercise you can do the better.  Never put undue stress on yourself unless it is an emergency.  Take care of you.  If you don't feel like doing spring cleaning this year, don't.  Or hire someone else to do it for you.  If you can't muster up the strength to drive, don't.  Let your body adjust to the changes and then make a go of it.  Doctors and others will make you feel as if you HAVE to try to press through when you are feeling like you can't.  DON'T.  You may just have to take off from driving for a while and make other arrangements until you feel better.  I had an aunt who had to stop driving for 8 years.  What benefit would it have done her to put herself through undue stress everyday?  This is a long term thing and adjustments have to be made until your body has finished the process.  When it is all over, you can go back to being the socialite-athlete-superwoman you once were.  You can even come back stronger if you take care of yourself.  But just for now, relax.  Do what you need to so you can take care of YOU. 

Symptoms typically last two to ten years, officially, but I have heard of women going through these symptoms for 20+ years.  Don't worry, 20+ years is normal.  There's nothing wrong with you just because yours is lasting longer or shorter than the others.  When your periods stop for a full twelve months, doctors consider this to be menopause.   Often times, your symptoms will end once your body has adjusted to the new level of estrogen. 

 

Foods that can  help:

Baked potatoes

Sweet potatoes (No syrup)

Whole grains and fiber 

Lots of Vegetables of all kinds and colors should be a big part of your diet.

Ice cold water

 

Things that can help not listed above:

Prayer

Daily meditation 

Laughter

A physical

A pap smear

A colonoscopy  (Surgery may stop panic attacks due to colon problems)

Educational materials on menopause/panic attacks/perimenopause 

People... (some may wish to avoid crowds, but people in general will help you focus on something other than your health condition) including reading to your children or helping them with their homework.  Spending time in general with people sometime throughout the day.

Gardening, playing freesbie, reading, volunteer work, painting and other relaxing activities...

Keeping your environment clean and clutter free

Take mental vacations by going through travel magazines or visiting travel websites. 

Invest in a water purifier

Repainting your living space to relaxing colors.  Relaxing to me may be yellow but pink to you- so whatever feels best.  If you paint it the wrong color, don't worry.  It's only paint.  You can redo it or have it redone.

Placing more rounded objects in your living/working spaces as opposed to boxy-type pieces of furniture.  Studies show these to be softer and more flowing to your emotional health. 

 

 

Things to refrain from during this time:

Caffeine in any shape, form or fashion.  (coffee, tea, soda pop, chocolate, certain medications, diet pills)

Sugary foods (junk foods such as ice cream, candy bars, candy, etc..)

Alcohol. 

Hot liquids, especially spicy hot soups and coffee.

Smoking 

 

 

If you have panic attacks, in addition to above, but only if you find it bothers you and not simply because I say it will: 

Aspirin

Decongestants

Antihistamines (including Dramamine and meclizine)

Loud, racy music

High traffic areas

High places in general

Amusement parks

Loud sporting/recreational events

Scary/horror/action/drama films, television shows and plays

Largely crowded areas

Lying in the sun too long

Working in the sun too long

Overexposure to ANY heat source

Tunnels, caves, elevators, small rooms, etc...

Smoking sections and smoke filled rooms

Risky people who refuse to be considerate to your needs

Flying

Heavy fumes of any kind

Diet pills, patches and creams (even the decaf kind) because of certain herbal steroids in the active ingredients.

 

 

Yep, it can be tough.  But remember this, every woman over the age of 60 has gone through it and they survived.  Like giving birth, it's scary.  It's big.  But it's doable.  Talking to others about it helps to let you know you are not alone and not feel so scared by it. 

Now, I know this has been a long post.  Like I said, I did it so others would be able to get some information to answer some questions like I had when I first started and had no one to turn to, or so I felt.  This will always be attainable through a google search., albeit lost in a sea of other results, and helpful for others.

Entry #76

Comments

1.
konaneComment by konane - January 29, 2008, 11:13 am
If soy products are not a problem I read somewhere they contain vegetable estrogen so perhaps the addition of tofu to diet can help. Firm tofu can be cubed and sauted for a good flavor, it can also be marinated overnight in whatever flavor you choose then drained and sauted or cooked as you would meat.
2.
spy153Comment by spy153 - January 29, 2008, 11:31 am
If soy doesn't bother you, that's great. But in some women, it causes hormonal flucuations in the bad way. I am one of those people. So I know it is helpful for some people, but because it wasn't for me, I tend not to recommend it to others.
3.
justxploringComment by justxploring - January 29, 2008, 1:12 pm
Good answer, Konane, although I see Spy was affected negatively. Spy, sometimes the flucuations need to happen at first, sort of the way you feel a little worse when I fever breaks. If you've ever detoxed your body, it reacts violently sometimes to the herbs that clear out the heavy metals. Anyway, you know what's best. There are many menopause chats and message boards that are probably very helpful. The largest one I think is Power Surge. I already mentioned the phytoestrogens in another blog, but those would be the same. Black Cohosh, Wild Yam and Red Clover are well known treatments for menopause. Probably one of the best over-the-counter pills I took was from the supermarket called New Phase, but the one I mentioned from Vitamin Shoppe was also good. Keep in mind that 1/2 of the above symptoms happen to all of us (both men & women) anyway. I never had a panic attack, but I did freak out a few times when I couldn't find my car. lol   Oh, and you couldn't force me to give up caffeine. They blame everything these days on coffee, something that is served around the world and has been on earth for years. I think if I win the lottery I'll plan a trip to Jamaica to get some Blue Mountain coffee.   Hot liquids I feel do the opposite of what you wrote. Rooibos tea is good and doesn't have caffeine. Loud music bad? I find turning up the volume when there's some good classic rock gets my body in gear..."I love rock n roll - so put another dime in the jukebox baby"... On this board I can't talk about my peri-menopause sex drive 10 yrs ago, except that I'd drive pretty far to get....oops..LOL   I guess the bottom line is whatever works for you, do it. Don't stop living, Spy. That's a very long list of stuff to avoid. If I had to avoid small caves, I wouldn't be able to stay in my apartment.
4.
spy153Comment by spy153 - January 29, 2008, 1:16 pm
Lol, justx. I didn't say I did all those things. Those are just some suggestions that help. No, life would be no fun if we stopped everything.
5.
justxploringComment by justxploring - January 29, 2008, 1:29 pm
Darn - I didn't make typos before menopause either. LOL I should be more careful, but I swear my posts look okay before I hit "add comment." You don't want to know what happens after your hormones settle down. Enjoy the surges. I used to get excited shopping at the produce section in the supermarket.

Right now I'm going through post-menopause. The only men I meet in my bedroom are on posts. LOL
6.
emilygComment by emilyg - January 29, 2008, 1:42 pm
Some people are allergic to soy. I am.
7.
justxploringComment by justxploring - January 29, 2008, 1:54 pm
That's too bad, Emily. Soy is added to so many products these days. I guess you need to be a good label reader. It's been suggested many times to give up wheat products which would be very hard for me. My diet is already so limited and pasta is a big part of it.

I wasn't saying Spy should take something that makes her sick, just that sometimes it takes a long time for natural treatments to work so that's not a reason to give up. Of course if someone is allergic to soy (or anything for that matter) she shouldn't take it.
8.
Comment by pacattack05 - January 29, 2008, 2:07 pm
I drink plenty of vitamin water to help me. It really works. I'm just greatful that I don't get the heavy periods. Phew!
9.
justxploringComment by justxploring - January 29, 2008, 2:23 pm
Not funny, Pac. If men had to endure monthly menstruation and childbirth, the human race would cease to exist. :-)
10.
konaneComment by konane - January 29, 2008, 7:05 pm
They used to say don't drink coffee, now the latest data is that it's good for you and going to keep you living longer. Good thing, I never stopped.

Same with regular brewed tea (thea sinensis) again good thing, I never stopped. Found out several years back tea has natural theophylline which helps some asthmatics. Gunpowder green, Yunan, Ceylon, Assam, Darjeeling, Jasmine Green .... bring it on!

Same thing with butter years ago, now they say it's not as harmful as hydrogenated margarines.

I think a lot of flawed data must come from people writing doctoral theses which are picked up by the media that's known for making pronouncements to scare the starch out of us. Except for known allergy foods specific to the individual it seems everything in moderation is what's going to make people live longer healthier lives.
11.
spy153Comment by spy153 - January 29, 2008, 7:55 pm
lol, pac.

Konane, that must be true. I always believed "if it bothers you in whatever way, leave it alone". "If you're craving it, there must be a reason. Your body is needing something."

Emily, I think I'm like you. What does it do to you?
12.
emilygComment by emilyg - January 29, 2008, 11:38 pm
I get hives from soy.
13.
TenajComment by Tenaj - January 30, 2008, 12:02 am
Keeping your sugar level regulated helps with night sweats according to a Dr. on Oprah (forgot her name) not Dr. Oz. She said your body is getting rid of toxins. Oprah did a menopause special just last week.
14.
justxploringComment by justxploring - January 30, 2008, 3:15 am
Yes, I agree about the sugar. That included alcohol too. I crave chocolate and sweets at night so I began drinking Egyption licorice tea. Craving doesn't necessarily mean you need the item you crave, but that someone is out of balance. People crave alcohol, cigarettes and heroin too. Taking a good form of magnesium can curb many cravings. I can recommend a good supplement for that.   I agree with Konane about all the warmings, especially about natural foods & supplments. I used to read that you shouldn't take too much Vit D but now they're saying it's a hormone, not a vitamin and the recommended allowance should be doubled. See this:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Vitamin-D,-or-Vitamin-D-Hormone?&id=151939

Maybe that's why sunshine makes people feel happy. I disagree about being in the sun if you are well protected and don't overdo it. Walks on the beach have always relaxed me. (except during red tide! yuck) Of course, I like walking on the beach in the rain too. Hope you begin to feel better soon.
15.
spy153Comment by spy153 - January 30, 2008, 9:55 am
Crud! I'm sorry I missed that one, tenaj. I don't usually watch Oprah.

I know! I know! What?! Gasp! A woman that doesn't watch Oprah?!!!

I'm not a big soaps fan either. Surprise! I don't know why, it's just never been my thing.

I believe we need those night sweats and everything else we have to go through with menopause. Just like a fever is the body's attempt to fight infection in us when we get sick, maybe the symptoms we face through menopause if just a necessary evil. I read one day it was okay to let a fever run its course up to 102 degrees. After that, start taking something to bring it down. One year, my daughter and I were getting sick everytime we turned around and I was desperate to find something that would keep us from catching everything comin' flu wise. She was getting temps over 104 degrees just overnight. That year, I let our fevers go untamed. Crazy thing to do... but we haven't had bouts of the flu like that since. And colds are few and far between for her and almost non-existent for me. Best decision I ever made ! We felt like heck that time, but it was over in a few days. Then she and I ran a 100 degree temperature for weeks afterward (but felt okay) and then we were fine. So, in 2006, when I quit smoking, it was the icing on the cake for us. While everyone at her school is down with the flu and my hubby is bringing in viruses from his work place, we are sitting pretty. All I do is make sure they are getting some extra vitamin C if I know there is something going on. Before that year, though, it didn't matter what I did.

Thanks for that link, justx. You're such a thorough friend.

I was talking about food cravings, mainly, justx. Anytime you crave a chemical of anykind, it isn't natural.

I know my sayings aren't perfect. They are rules of thumb I have grown up with though. I know if you are craving something sour it is actually your body's way of saying you need some more vitamin c. If you crave something salty, your body is saying you are getting dehydrated.   Sugar is for vitamin b complex's.

And yes, being out of the sunshine for long periods of time isn't good for anyone. So how much sun time would a person need to get that much vitamin D?
16.
konaneComment by konane - January 30, 2008, 10:14 am
Justx if you can find any 70's vintage Adele Davis books on nutrition and supplements she had some very sage advice about many things which science is finding applicable today.

Regarding vitamin D she recommended sunshine, whole milk, and if you burn in the sun supplement with oral PABA in sunny months prior to exposure .... which I've done for years. If memory serves me she said if you have compromised liver function to NOT take it because it's apparently processed by the liver.   

My experience is that it does prevent sunburn and if you end up a bit red it turns tan the next day.

As always research thoroughly and ask your health provider.

Adele Davis may have some menopause advice in her books also.

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