Throughout our hormonal life we get so many symptoms and changes that it can be hard to tell just what is the menopause and what might be something else. If in doubt consult your doctor, but this handy checklist could be useful.
1 HOT FLUSHES AND/OR SWEATS
If you are unlucky enough to have both then take evasive action when you feel one coming on and sometimes a dab of progesterone cream can be enough to halt it. If they are severe and continuing then you may be better with a combination cream of both progesterone and oestrogen.
Start with your wardrobe and always wear loose clothes and night wear of natural fabrics and investigate cooling pads for your pillow or mattress.
2 WEIGHT GAIN
You can really pile on the pounds at menopause as your body shifts its oestrogen production into the fat cells of the abdomen and stomach and so tackling oestrogen dominance is a good place to start. However healthy your diet, and how much exercise you do, it is that hormonal factor that will make the difference.
Worrying about your weight won’t help, as stress raises levels of cortisol, which encourages fat deposits around the abdomen as well so keep calm and take a deep breath.
Bloating during the menopause is a common side effect and can really get you down as your clothes get stretched to the limit and your wrists and ankles look puffy and swollen. As hormone levels begin to change, you tend to store more water and that is what makes you look and feel bloated.
Progesterone promotes the elimination of excess oestrogen from tissues and acts as a diuretic to also help get rid of the water the body is storing.
4 ANXIETY AND MOOD SWINGS
Many women who have never previously been anxious can find that they start to stress and worry more when in menopause. There are so many changes going on in the body and dealing with them can increase your heart rate and may bring on palpitations and dizziness.
To elevate your mood to a more even balance, progesterone supplementation can help as low levels of this hormone are associated with anxiety. However if your mood swings are severe, or you are depressed, then may you need a combination cream of both progesterone and oestrogen.
5 SLEEP ISSUES
Your pattern may change, sometimes due to the hot flushes and sweats, or just difficulty getting to sleep or waking through the night. Sleep problems can be triggered by night sweats, or waking in the night more frequently to go to the bathroom.
Poor sleep is linked to lower progesterone levels and is the vital hormone for falling and staying asleep. Magnesium also helps muscles relax, allowing us to fall asleep more easily.
6 BRAIN FOG
Now where did I put my keys/purse/dog? This is a very frustrating aspect of menopause as we forget things and find difficulty concentrating. This is due again to those fluctuating hormone levels and progesterone has a calming effect so can make it easier to focus.
This is where organisation and list making really come into their own so always leave keys in the same place and carry a small notebook – it really will help.
Hormones help regulate how our cells use energy, so when levels drop, so too do energy levels. Stress can be a major problem, as can lack of sleep, and this can lead to adrenal fatigue and a feeling of being worn out most of the time.
If your tiredness persists, it is worth checking that you do not have an under-active thyroid. Fatigue is a symptom of this so ask your GP for a check.