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November 23, 2010 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Approaching Menopause with an Open Mind

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

The word menopause refers to cessation of menstruation for twelve consecutive months. Pre-menopause and peri-menopause are the years or months that come before menopause and help pave the way for the big changes to take place in a woman's body. Sooner or later, menopause comes knocking on the door of every woman. As a woman matures, menopause is the natural course her womanhood will take, and should not be looked upon with fear. This is a milestone that should be viewed as a good thing, yet most women cringe when thoughts turn toward their impending menopause. This may be due to the fact that until recently menopause, often referred to as "the change" has been taboo.

Menopause Taboos

In years past, menopause was not an open subject. Girls learned about "the change" only by watching their grandmothers and then mothers pass through this phase. Information was often secretly passed on from woman to woman. Because every woman passes through this stage in her life in her own particular way, for the most part, information was scarce and often did not always apply to every woman. Thus, many women entered into menopause unprepared for the changes that were about to take place. Today, we know that the best way to approach this milestone is head on. Ask questions both of the women in your life and of a qualified physician. If you know what is heading your way it is always easier to be prepared.

The Change

As a woman's menstrual cycle diminishes and changes, her body and mind change accordingly. Some women will have many symptoms, some women will have none. For instance, hot flashes, allergies, heart palpitations, crawly and irritated skin, rashes, headaches, bone loss, and teeth decay can all occur, or all diminish, if they were already a problem. Thoughts often take new and scary directions as some women waver on the edge of depression during menopause. As hormones rise and fall, often in rapid succession, mood swings may invariably take their toll. The easiest way to intercept these changes and be prepared is to take them at face value.

Hot Flashes

Most women experience hot flashes and night sweats. A solution is to dress appropriately. Cotton can breathe, and layered clothing means you can cool down by removing one layer at a time. Wear a short sleeved shirt with a button-up sweater, fabrics that do not cling, slip on shoes for easy exits, and cotton pajamas.

What brings on a hot flash? Anytime the body heats up, a hot flash can occur. That means the weather can bring on a hot flash, as well as a hot bowl of soup or biting into a jalapeno. Avoid altercations, crowded rooms, rooms where the temperature is high, hot foods, and sweet foods filled with carbohydrates.

The good news is that hot flashes generally are short lived. An average hot flash lasts about 30 seconds and mainly affects your chest and face. You will feel a surge of heat begin in your chest and move upward, creating a flush as it moves. Sometimes, however, hot flashes can start at your toes and surge over your entire body. While this is very uncomfortable, it will only last for a few minutes.

Mood Swings

Most women experience mood swings. Mood swings can come on quickly, along with a hot flash, or all by themselves. Some women may need medication to combat extreme mood swings or depression. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, don�t be afraid to speak to your physician. If you understand that mood swings are part of the package, and address them as they occur, you will be more apt to move through mood swings a little more painlessly. Menopause is natural and inevitable. The best way to approach it is with acceptance, positivity, and even humor. There�s nothing wrong with seeing the funny side of age and change. Allow yourself to explore all the options for relief, and know that, like everything else, this too shall pass.

References:

http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/content/79/6/735.refs

http://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/stages/menopause.cfm

http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp047.cfm

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