At Halloween time, you might be afraid you'll eat all the Halloween candy before you hear your doorbell ring and that first chorus of "Trick or treat!" For many menopausal women, that's the least of their fears! You and your family may be afraid that your menopausal symptoms are the sign of something more serious... or that they're here to stay for good. Talk about scary!
The good news is that neither is true. In most cases, your menopausal symptoms are simply the side effects that come with the change of life. And, while they may seem never-ending, there is a way out of "The Little Hormones of Horrors."
Take a look at the symptoms I've listed in my Menopause Symptoms Chart, and see how you can demystify them to give yourself a little less trick and a little more treat.
The menses monster
If you're one of those women whose period was so regular you could set your clock to it, fuhgeddaboutit. And if your cramps were a mere blip, you could be in store for some bleepin' cramps.
In perimenopause, you're likely to experience anything from spotting to lighter or heavier periods. You may even have some breakthrough bleeding (between cycles, whatever that may be). While a range of flow is normal, report any extremely unusual bleeding to (think "Texas Chainsaw Massacre") your menopause specialist.
You may have Freddy Krueger-style cramps, or no discomfort whatsoever. Just as women's periods differ greatly before menopause, their menses symptoms will differ greatly during perimenopause and menopause.
And, of course, you'll miss (as in skip) periods. The time between periods will become greater and greater until you've been without a period for a year, signaling their end.
Fear and loathing
Misplacing your keys or your reading glasses doesn't mean you're doomed to get Alzheimer's. As we age, our memory begins to fail us (along with the rest of our faculties -- but that's a whole other story). During menopause, though, memory lapses are quite common. If you find yourself saying, “Why are there kids in costumes at my front door?” then this is for you! You can try staving off age-related memory issues by brandishing a cross, but you're better off doing brain exercises. Think of it as mental push-ups. (I know, you're thinking your tatas could use a push-up, too.)
You also might be overly sensitive, experience uncontrollable crying, be unusually depressed or withdrawn, super stressed out, anxious or overwhelmed by it all. Again, this too shall pass. Of course, if your mood swings are more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, see your menopause specialist.
On the other hand, you might be extremely irritable (aka witchy woman), angry or even violent. I advise you to let your family know how you are feeling. This way, they won't personalize your mood swings. Remind your loved ones that it's the hormones, not them!
To top it all off, you may find that your libido has run away like a bat out of hell. Don't let perimenopause/menopause spook your sex life. Turn spook into spark. Communicate with your partner -- and your doctor -- on ways to reclaim your sex drive.
Heart palpitations (and not just when you're in the haunted house)
Crying and migraines and bloating. Oh my! The list of physical symptoms during menopause is as long as the lines for haunted hay ride: headaches, hot flashes, hair loss and heart palpitations... bloating, breast tenderness and being exhausted... packing on the pounds and perennial peeing... vaginal discharge, dryness and difficulty reaching orgasm. They may be a bit scary, to put it lightly, but they're definitely not life threatening. If certain symptoms (like lack of sleep) are impacting your ability to function, then it's time to call your menopause specialist.
This Halloween, let the kiddos do the dressing up! Slash your mood swings, achieve hormone happiness, and toss your broomstick for good!
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
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Ellen Dolgen is an outspoken women's health and wellness advocate, menopause awareness expert, author, and speaker.
After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through-before, during, and after menopause-with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a "sister" and confidant to all women fueled Ellen's first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers' requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen's weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.
Menopause MondaysTM is a platform from which Ellen reaches the true needs of her readers through varied and substantive discussions of menopause, women's health, and the modern woman's life today as a menopausal woman. Her weekly newsletter provides readers the most current menopause news and research. With her updates, women gain access and the knowledge needed to take charge of their health and happiness. Her motto is: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
In addition to Ellen's ever-growing social media presence, EllenDolgen.com has fast become "the place" on the web for informative and entertaining women's menopause and wellness engagement. Ellen is #1 on Dr. Oz Sharecare.com Top 10 Social HealthMakers on Menopause. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, EllenDolgen.com / Menopause Mondays was named first on the list of the "Best Menopause Blogs" by Healthline. Ellen is also a regular contributor to over a dozen leading women's health blogs.