SO NOW I’M SEEING, more like feeling, hot flashes. As most people know, hot flashes are a cardinal sign and symptom of menopause.
According to womenshealth.gov, women can experience perimenopausal symptoms some two years to eight years before their last period. So a woman in her early 40s is a prime candidate.
Wait, there’s more! Here’s what else we’re likely to enjoy in perimenopause: irregular periods, trouble sleeping, vaginal and/or urinary problems, mood changes, decreased libido, increased risk of osteoporosis and forgetfulness (womenshealth.gov).
Most issues tie back to those volatile chemical-like messengers — our hormones — and their constant ebb and flow. I’m convinced, sometimes, hormones really do rule the world.
But let us not despair. If menopause and her assistant, peri-, are just part of life, we have what we need to manage her. Here’s some advice culled from authorities like the American College of Nurse Midwives, the U.S. Office of Women’s Health and the North American Menopause Society:
1. Eat well. That means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for sure, taking it easy or eliminating altogether sugar and bad fats and getting extra B vitamins, calcium and Vitamin D, usually in the form of supplements.
2. Regular moderate exercise. Of course it always comes down to this duo — diet and exercise — doesn’t it? Think of some 2-plus hours of gets-your-heart-pumping exercise a week plus exercise that focuses on muscle strength.
3. Reduce stress. I think we can consider these three the “optimal health trifecta” — diet, exercise and stress reduction. Remember moodiness? Forgetfulness? Plus the fact that menopause means a highly significant life change, the end of the childbearing years altogether? Right. Reducing stress, keeping family and friendship relationships healthy — important.
4. Stop doing stuff that’s bad for you. That would be smoking, for sure. Eliminating soda pop — sugared or diet, they’re both bad for you — is a good idea.
5. Check in about your gynecology. You can see a nurse practitioner, gynecologist or midwife — whomever knows about this stuff — and have regular screenings. Remains important even after menopause.
6. Consider other options. Most notably, hormone replacement therapy. Some care providers prescribe hormones that help alleviate some symptoms. Read up on the benefits and risks before choosing any treatment for anything, this one included. HRT has been associated with increased risk for blood clots, strokes, heart attacks and breast cancer, but, like any intervention, it can be an effective strategy for managing troublesome symptoms.
7. Have some kind of “bodywork” done regularly. This is straight from me, my opinion. Visit a chiropractor; get massage treatments. From a reputable provider, get hands on you that know how to get you and help you stay “aligned.” It’s not just about spines or cracky necks, either. It’s about innervation — your nerves — and helping things work without interference.