If you’re in your 40s and start to experience fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, or change in libido, you might attribute those changes to anything, even pregnancy. Menopause is probably the last thing on your mind. Yet, if you’re aged between 40 and 45, you could be one of the 5% of women experiencing early menopause.
Early menopause is like an unwanted guest that makes its appearance at an unexpected time. When you’re still in your 40s, menopause might not be a topic you are well informed on how to handle it.
Early menopause can be the result of ovarian or uterus removal surgery or cancer treatments, for instance. It can also be due to genetics, and other reasons.
Menopause, early menopause, perimenopause
At the start, you can experience an irregular menstrual cycle. Your period may come one month, disappear for a couple of months, then come back again. The blood flow may also differ from the usual, and a heavy flow can become lighter. When the menstrual cycle stops for good – one full year – then you are in menopause.
The average age of women in menopause is 52 and is usually triggered by rapid changes in your sex hormones; mainly estrogen and progesterone. These hormones begin to fluctuate. The earlier this happens in your body, the more difficult it becomes for the body to adjust to it and create a balance between these hormones because the body itself slows down in its ability to create hormones.
Early menopause differs from what is called perimenopause, which is a stage that can begin as early as 35, though it more commonly starts in the early 40s. In perimenopause, your period still continues, but erratically. This can go on for a long period of time, between 8 to 10 years.
Many women will wonder if they can get pregnant during the stage of perimenopause. It’s expected that fertility does decline during this stage. Though it might be difficult to get pregnant, it’s not out of the question either.
Symptoms of early menopause
The result of this is that hormonal shifts in the body at an early age can be quite jolting for women. Your body begins to experience things you can feel, such as fatigue, and goes through changes that you can’t feel, like a decrease in bone density.
The symptoms we’ll talk about can be uncomfortable for most women. You might not experience every symptom, but you’ll want to know how to manage them and the ones most affecting you.
Hot flashes/night sweats: This is probably the staple symptom of menopause in which you experience a sudden feeling of heat. Your face may get flushed and you can break out into sweats while sleeping. Estrogen is the most efficient way to treat hot flashes, since the lack of it, is what causes many symptoms of menopause. But we know from PatchMD.com that taking hormones do propose their own risks and a better solution is to take vitamin B family groups, along with vitamin D to help with many symptoms. There are also several safe hormone supplements to help you with specific symptoms of menopause. You can also make some changes in your lifestyle, such as staying away from spicy food and lessening caffeinated beverages to lessen hot flashes.
Weight gain: Menopausal women might often notice a weight gain, especially around the middle section. Again, you will do well with some lifestyle changes and if you were not too active before, it’s vital that you become more active now. Natural remedies that can help control weight gain could be in the form of vitamin D3, calcium, and 5-HTP which is an amino acid naturally produced by the body. This can also be found in supplements.
Libido: Some women may notice a heightened libido, but most women sense a decreased libido which menopause is often connected to. Generally, there will be a thinning of the vaginal walls which can lead to dryness which in turn can cause pain during sex. While some women opt for hormonal treatment, others use natural products or herbs to help maintain or increase sexual drive.
All experts advise women to focus on maintaining their physical health, which contributes to a healthier libido. You would also be encouraged to talk to your partner about how you’re feeling and how it’s affecting you. Together you can focus on other ways of feeling intimate along with sexual intimacy.
Mood swings and Depression: If you experience this, you’re in good company, as 70% of women say their mood is affected by menopause. One moment you’re on top of the world, and the next you feel you’re under a bus.
Menopause is the end of your reproductive years. For many women this hits them hard, even if they weren’t planning for kids. They begin to view themselves as unattractive, and begin to feel old. All this negativity can lead to depression. You will notice that you might have crying episodes, for instance, crying over things that normally would not have affected you.
The lack of estrogen is believed to affect how our bodies manage serotonin and norepinephrine, which are two substances linked to depression.
A diet rich in omega 3 and protein can help the mood swings.
Bone density: By 5 to 7 years into menopause, women may have lost up to 20% of bone density. This makes menopausal women more at risk for osteoporosis, which is the weakness of the bones. In turn, that makes you more prone to fractures and breaks.
Staying active is your best shot to help protect and keep your bones healthy. In fact, women aged 19 to 64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense activity or exercise each week.
There are literally over 30 symptoms of menopause. You will probably not go through all of them, but the ones that you do go through can be managed by changing some lifestyle habits and using various supplements and vitamins. Whether you reach menopause early or average, there is a lot of help to see to it that common symptoms, don’t get in the way of your daily life and well-being.