Am I Losing My Mind or is it Menopause?

Cecile LaRiviere

Posted on March 01 2013

Is it time for 'the change' in your life? Menopause affects all women in their life time - some with more symptoms than others, but all with the same results. Here is some information that can help you better understand what is happening and some natural ways to treat your menopause symptoms.

The menopausal process occurs in four stages:
    • pre-menopause
    • perimenopause
    • menopause
    • and post menopause.

Pre-menopause refers your fertile period, which ranges from your first menstrual period to your last menstrual period.

Perimenopause encompasses the years preceding menopause, and it’s during this stage that your hormone levels change and levels of estrogen decline. Perimenopause typically takes place between 45- and 60- years-of-age and can span a 2- to 6-year period of time. Early signs of perimenopause usually occur in your mid 40s.

Menopause is the permanent termination of menstruation and fertility. This stage begins when you have last period. Menopause can be defined by more than 12 consecutive period-free months. At this stage, your ovaries are no longer producing eggs as hormone production stops, and common changes become noticeable - including vaginal dryness and loss of sex drive .

Post menopause is determined after a woman’s menstrual period hasn’t reoccurred within a period of 12-months. The two most serious health concerns in post-menopausal women are heart disease and osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Menopause

The symptoms and signs of menopause are not cut and dried, don't appear in a logical order, and they are different for each woman. As our ovarian production decreases, the follicle stimulating hormone (or FSH) increases, triggering symptoms like hot flashes, headaches, memory problems, acne and mood swings. It is interesting to note that women in different parts of the world experience different symptoms, perhaps induced by their diet, climate or simply genetics.

The A-Z of Menopause Symptoms
  • Aching Joints
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Bloating
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Burning Tongue
  • Changes in Odor
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Digestive Problems
  • Dizziness
  • Electric Shocks
  • Fatigue
  • Fingernails Gum Problems
  • Hair Loss
  • Hot Flashes
  • Incontinence
  • Irregular Periods
  • Irritability
  • Itchy Skin
  • Loss of Libido
  • Memory Lapses
  • Migraines
  • Mood Swings
  • Muscle Tensions
  • Night Sweats
  • Osteoporosis
  • Panic Disorder
  • Racing Heart Beat
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Tingling Extremities
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Weight Gain

Natural Remedies for Menopause

Yes, some women have an easier time with menopause than others but does anyone get away scot-free?  My mom and I have had several conversations on the topic – mostly me asking questions to avoid being ill-prepared, ill-informed or worse, misinformed!  She did, however tell me that my grandmother was one of the lucky ones.  She lost her period and that was that.  No flashes, no night sweats, no weight gain, no mood swings, no anxiety, no hair loss, no fatigue, no itchy skin, no burning tongue, NO NOTHING!  Well! This information came as a huge surprise to me and catapulted me into an extensive fact finding (more like fact proving) mission that occupied many hours of my days and now has become my lifelong work.   Here’s what I know now:

Menopausal symptoms effects roughly 85% of women and to set the record straight, in all, there are 34 reported symptoms of menopause.   Clearly the number of symptoms and the severity will be different among individual women, and also among women in different cultures and in different parts of the world.  But women who have joined the sisterhood of menopause are not alone - For the next 20 years, an estimated 40 million North American female baby boomers will experience menopause, and women today are past the point of being told to “just suffer through it”.

Take control of it, before IT takes control of you.

So how does one begin to take control?  Well for starters, get educated.  Take the time to read and understand the changes that your body is (or will be) going through.  Generally people deal better with things that don’t come as a surprise.  Don’t ignore “intuitive” treatments.  Dress in layers, buy a small inexpensive hand held fan and turn down the furnace.  Also avoid food s that are known to trigger a flash – like spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol.   Add foods that contain “phytoestrogens” -- like soy, flax, certain beans, peas and lentils – natural remedies for menopause may also help to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.  It goes without saying that good nutrition and regular physical exercise is a critical component to improved overall health.

Having a positive mind-set has a lot to do with how well a woman adjusts to menopause. If it is viewed as a catastrophic end to youth, fertility and sexuality, it can cause major disruptions in one's life, and force the temptation to "solve" the problem with treatment options that falsely promise eternal youth.  There are many natural remedies for menopause available .  Look for menopause supplements that are a comprehensive blend of ingredients which includes Black Cohosh and Dong Quai, both which have been shown to tremendously help provide menopause relief.  The risks and rewards of hormone replacement therapy should be carefully considered before undertaking this protocol.  Many women do very well using natural remedies for menopause treatment.  If menopause is seen as the natural transition to the next phase of life, it can not only be readily accepted and more easily handled, but also a liberating rite of passage.

You Write:

What is your opinion about Maca powder or Macafem for natural relief for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms?

Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable used both as food and medicine It is widely marketed for improving male and female sexual function, fertility and menopause, however, at present there is no reliable evidence that it actually provides any benefits at all. Most of the evidence for maca comes from animal studies. Until proper clinical studies are conducted in humans it is hard to know the potential benefits and risks of this product.

Acne at 50?

Menopause. Just when you gained control of the hot flashes, crazy mood swings and full beard, you discover menopause does indeed have a sense of humour ...pimples. Remember how a pimple often was the first sign of an impending period...well guess what? Even when you haven't had a period years, the pimples keep coming. Menopause really is the gift that keeps on giving.

So what should you do? It turns out the root cause of all these pimples is hormones. Once you enter the years leading up to and including menopause, your hormones begin the fluctuate leading to breakouts, much like you previously had before your period. Combine this with the fact that as we age, our skin cells turn over (shed) at a much slower rate and you have the perfect storm for a pimple-filled face. Not all women experience this, but as we all know, even one pimple, is one too many.

So let's review the golden rules of skincare and what you can do to keep your acne at bay.

Simple Ways to Minimize Acne
        • Wash your face with a mild cleanser twice daily using warm, not hot, water.

        • Be careful not to scrub your face, as this may cause more irritation.

        • Clean your bed sheets, especially your pillowcase, weekly with mild, chemical-free detergent.

        • Do not pick or pop pimples. This may cause secondary bacterial infections and lead to more scarring.

        • Only use cosmetics, skin or hair care products, labeled non-comedogenic – meaning they do not clog pores and are less likely to cause acne.

        • Keep your hands off your face. Your hands contain dirt and bacteria, which is easily transferred to your face.

        • Manage your stress. Although stress doesn’t cause acne it has been shown to aggravate acne, which is why breakouts occur during more stressful times.

        • Eat to nourish your skin. Recent studies are now suggesting that high- glycemic foods such as refined grains and processed sugars may, in fact, trigger acne breakouts. Low glycemic foods such as whole grains, lean meat, and fish may keep acne at bay because they stabilize blood sugar and prevent insulin spikes.

        • Consider a hair, skin and nail supplement like  femMED’s Hair, Skin & Nails  to provide essential nutrients for optimal skin.

        • For severe cases, where there are multiple lesions or cysts, consult a dermatologist.

      • Resist the temptation to treat acne topically without first addressing the underlying cause of breakouts – hormonal imbalance.

For those women suffering from the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, consider a natural health product, like  femMED Hormonal Balance  or Menopause Relief .

Book Recommendation

Menopause by Dr. Northrup

I loooove this book and highly recommend it to everyone. Dr. Northrup has several books out on women's health. I admit I have almost all of them. I find them to be very inclusive. Always offering emotional as well as medical advice. This book tackles the perimenopausal stage and is worth a read.

You can download a sample of the book here . I'd also recommend checking out her website
She's quite an interesting woman and she speaks openly about her life, including her divorce and her own problems with fibroids and menopause.

Sara Purves

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