As mentioned earlier, probably the most famous symptom of menopause is the hot flashes. It sounds like nothing doesn’t it? After all, how bad can a temporary change in temperature be?
If you are one of the unfortunate women whose hot flashes leave them red-faced, sweaty, bedraggled, embarrassed, uncomfortable and looking like they have spent 20 minutes in a steam room fully clothed, you will know this symptom can be inconvenient and distressing.
Stress can often exacerbate hot flashes so your feeling that they strike at the most inconvenient times might not be all in your imagination. If you are planning to ask for a pay-rise, meet with the Principal to fight your child’s corner or confront someone, make sure you are dressed in natural fabrics in layers you can remove if the heat hits you.
Menopausal mood swings may be almost indistinguishable from pre-menstrual mood changes which are unsurprising as they are both caused by hormonal activity.
However, during menopause, their frequency and severity may increase which can be upsetting and unsettling.
There are ways to decrease the frequency and severity of mood swings ranging from tweaking your diet to include more fruit, vegetables and soy products to taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The first thing to do if you realize your mood is low, you feel anxious, aren’t enjoying life as much as you did previously or have any concerns about your mood, confidence or state of mind is to talk about it.
Confide in a friend or family member if it helps, but your best point of call is your physician who may be able to help you sort out some counseling or, if necessary, medication.
Counseling takes many forms nowadays, and you don’t necessarily have to lie on the shrink’s sofa. There are even very useful online counseling services you can self-refer to and counselors who work entirely over the phone.
Headaches are another side effect which, like mood swings, are caused by hormonal changes. Your first line of defense would be over the counter headache pain remedies, but if headaches become frequent or severe, mention them to your doctor as they can be a sign of other conditions.
Symptoms which affect your sex life can be the most distressing as they tend to be the sort of side effect people don’t talk about leaving many people feeling they are suffering alone.
Physical symptoms like vaginal dryness and loss of elasticity which can cause pain during intercourse can be solved with the use of over-the-counter lubricants.
A loss of libido might be down to fear of pain from these physical symptoms, could be hormone related or could be an expression of fear or sadness over the loss of fertility or the physical changes to an aging body.
Oddly regular sex is the best way to keep libido perky and to keep genitals stretchy and lubricated for longer. HRT and counseling can also help.
Skin and Hair
Like the vaginal area, skin on the rest of your body may change, along with your hair.
Some women suffer for the first time with dry skin while others develop greasy skin. Hair may also become dry or greasy, and women may notice it thinning and losing luster and bounce too.
It may be time to review which hair and skin products you use. Many brands make products specifically designed for the over 40s, 50s, and beyond, which you can buy off the shelf, or you could ask advice in your local beauty store, spa or hair salon.
They may advise changing the style or color of your makeup and hair too. Shades which looked great when you were younger may be too strong now. A good cut could bring life back to your limp locks also.
Some stores offer free samples of skin care and make-up products and free or subsidized makeover sessions so you can try before you buy.
Next page: Symptoms of menopause to look out for, understanding the different stages of menopause, and ways to cope with menopause.