Irregular Menstrual Cycles
One of the most common features of menopause is an irregular menstrual cycle—in fact, only about 10% of women escape this irritating symptom. Instead of appearing at about the same time every month, with the same characteristics, your period may appear more or less frequently, vary in heaviness, or the number of days you’re on your period may fluctuate. Some months, you may not have a period at all, or you may find yourself spotting in between periods. Many women find their period becomes heavier during menopause than during any other time of their life. What’s more, this may go on for up to 10 years before your period ceases altogether. It is important to note that just because you are dealing with irregular periods does not mean you can’t get pregnant during menopause!
Hormones, as with most menopause symptoms, are responsible for this irregularity—particularly estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is a female sex hormone that encourages feminine development and keeps your period going regularly. Progesterone, on the other hand, is a type of steroid that preps the uterus for procreation. Additionally, menopause is not the only cause of an irregular period, and some of those causes can be dangerous, so it’s important to see a doctor in any case.
Many women are under the impression that dealing with menopause means just suffering through the symptoms. However, there are some things you can do to help ease the effects of an irregular cycle. Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, finding healthy ways to manage stress, and cutting out bad habits, like smoking cigarettes, can all help support body health during menopause.
Doctor-supervised hormone replacement therapy utilizing artificial estrogen and progestin (progesterone) may be an option when less intensive methods are unsuccessful. Make sure you understand the risks associated with taking such hormones before starting your regimen. A variety of conditions are more likely to occur in postmenopausal women, and hormone replacement can increase some of those risks even more.
Did you know...
- Just saying the words "thank you" can measurably improve your mood. Researchers can actually measure happiness and changes in brain structure when people practiced regular "grateful thinking." This included things like writing thank you notes, writing gratitude journal entries, mindfully counting their blessings, and thanking friends. It may be helpful in overcoming depression!
- Are you currently or often tired? As contradictory as it may sound, one of the best things you can do is exercise! It gives you more energy by improving your blood flow and increasing your oxygen throughout your body. You don't need to do much; a brisk walk is all it takes!
- Have you ever told your husband something and he promptly forgets it? It's not his fault, actually. It really is because he's a man. The hippocampus (the part of the brain that deals with memory) begins to shrink with age faster in men than it does in women. That's why you can remember everything, and he can't!
- Does your job make you stressed? We all know that stress is psychologically bad for you, but it also has an effect on…your allergies? A Harvard Medical School study has shown that stress causes your allergies to become worse because your body's defense response loses efficacy when repeatedly triggered by stress. Then, when you really need to physically fight something off, you're less able to!
- Need a quick cool down? Try drinking some hot liquid. It's true! As counterintuitive as it may seem, the heat from hot liquids will raise your body temperature. This will heat you up and cause you to sweat. The increased perspiration will wind up helping you feel cooler as it evaporates. Try it out!