Menopause comes at a time when life when many women hope to settle down for a quieter lifestyle or, at least, a time when they are free to enjoy some of the activities that have been postponed for work or family. Unfortunately, menopause comes with a host of symptoms that can interfere with those plans. However, by recognizing the symptoms early on, women may be able to put their future back on course.
The Early Signs: Perimenopause
Perimenopause happens for several years before menopause. It is the transition stage until menopause takes hold. This may start when a woman is in her 30s (and sometimes earlier), but most often begins during her 40s. Perimenopause will last until the woman reaches menopause. It typically lasts about 4 years, but ranges between just a few months and 10 years. The symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Breast tenderness
- Decreased sex drive
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary leakage or urgency
- Difficulty sleeping
Another symptom is excess belly weight because of the drop in estrogen.
The Symptoms of Menopause
Women experience menopause differently. This period begins when a woman has gone for 12 months without a menstrual period. As the symptoms begin to appear, the woman may experience any combination of the following:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Painful intercourse
- Vaginal dryness
One more symptom that women commonly experience is a dry mouth.
A Word About Dry Mouth
During menopause, a woman may experience a dry, sticky feeling in her mouth. With this, she may have trouble chewing, difficulty tasting, or even speaking. These symptoms happen because the drop in hormone levels affects the salivary glands. Unfortunately, this condition can also affect oral hygiene. Saliva plays an important role in cleansing the mouth, controlling bacteria, and protecting the teeth from plaque buildup. Without sufficient saliva, bacteria can multiply out of control, increasing bad breath, the risk of gingivitis, and other mouth diseases. Without the ability to chew appropriately, the woman may also suffer from the lack of appropriate nutrients.
Women may be able to treat dray mouth with a few steps:
- Try an oral rinse to increase mouth moisture
- Cut back on coffee or tea
- Chew gum or suck on sugar-free candy
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol
- Improve brushing and flossing routine
- Use a humidifier during the night
- Try to prevent mouth breathing
Managing the Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause
As the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body fluctuate, the resulting symptoms can make a woman feel uncomfortable and irritable. With the right steps, women can feel some relief:
- Exercise can relive the symptoms of hot flashes by reducing the levels of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. A good goal is 20 minutes of exercise at least three times a week.
- Tenderness in the breasts can be treated with a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients and vitamin C. In some European countries evening primrose oil is used to ease pain as well.
- Yoga and meditation can provide some relief for symptoms such as irritability, depression, and mood swings. Reducing the use of alcohol and caffeine can also ease symptoms.
With early recognition of the symptoms, women can find some relief from the symptoms that occur with menopause. This early start can set women on a good path for future comfort and enjoyment.