How Menopause Changes Your Body and What to Do About It

Menopause is a natural, biological process that happens to every woman eventually – and it can come with some unwelcome changes to your body. Several things can happen during menopause, from hot flashes and night sweats to weight gain and mood swings. But don’t lose heart – you can do a few things to ease the transition and keep your body healthy during this time.

What is Menopause – The Reason

The science behind menopause is pretty simple – as you age, your ovaries produce lesser estrogen,  a hormone responsible for regulating your menstrual cycle. So your periods may become irregular or stop altogether when estrogen levels start to dip. Unfortunately, these hormones also maintain calcium levels in your bones, which is why osteoporosis is a common concern during menopause.

So let’s discuss some common changes in the body due to menopause and what you can do about it. 

  1. Weight Gain

Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain when you’re full, so when levels start to decline in menopause, you may feel hungrier than usual. It then causes the fat storage in your body, particularly around your abdomen, to increase. The hips, thighs, and buttocks are the most affected areas, along with the abdomen.

What You Can Do About It:

The dread of menopausal weight gain is real for many women – but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of the process.

When you start noticing the scale creeping up, it’s time to change your diet and fitness routine. You can also check out training sessions like weightloss coaching for women over 50, with Pahla B. Sessions with professionals can help you better manage your weight during menopause.

  1. Difficulty in Sleeping

Insomnia is a prevalent symptom of menopause and can be caused by several things – from hot flashes to anxiety and stress. However, the root cause of your sleeplessness is probably the change in your cortisol levels, which can affect your body’s internal temperature regulation.

Sleep difficulty can lead to fatigue and a lack of concentration during the day.

What You Can Do About It:

To get your zzz’s, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, establish a regular sleep routine, and create a calm environment in your bedroom. You can also try including essential oils like lavender in your bedtime routine. If you can’t seem to shake insomnia, talk to your doctor – they may be able to prescribe a sleep aid. However, please don’t self-medicate.

  1. Vaginal Dryness

Estrogen is responsible for keeping your vaginal tissues healthy and lubricated – but during menopause, those levels start to decline. When this happens, vaginal tissue can become thin, dry, and less elastic. Probiotics for bacterial vaginosis are a great help if you are dealing with vaginal infection.  It also causes the vagina to shorten and narrow.

What You Can Do About It:

You can do several things to ease vaginal dryness, from over-the-counter lubricants to prescription treatments. 

If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, you must see your doctor. They can help you identify the root cause and find the best solution. Also, please don’t experiment with products without consulting your doctor, as some can aggravate the problem.

  1. Depression and Anxiety

Do you find yourself feeling more anxious or down lately? You’re not alone – depression and anxiety are common during menopause.

The exact cause remains unknown, but it’s believed to be related to the hormonal changes in your body. These changes can affect your brain chemistry and lead to mood swings. For example, one hormone that’s associated with depression is serotonin.

What You Can Do About It:

Dealing with depression can be tricky, especially when there’s a stigma attached to mental health. But it’s crucial to reach out for help if you’re struggling.

You can do some things to ease your anxiety and depression, from talking to a therapist to practicing relaxation techniques. You can also try medications like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.

  1. Hot Flashes

One of the most well-known menopause symptoms is hot flashes – sudden, brief periods of intense heat. They result from a decline in estrogen levels, which affects your body’s internal temperature regulation. Hot flashes can last from a few seconds to several minutes and happen multiple times daily. If ignored, they can lead to night sweats, disrupting your sleep.

What You Can Do About It:

Superficial breathing, also known as “hyperventilation,” is one of the most common triggers of hot flashes. So, the first thing you can do is focus on taking slow, deep breaths.

You can also try cooling down with a fan or air conditioner, wearing breathable fabrics, or avoiding spicy foods. If hot flashes disrupt sleep, try sleeping on a cooling mattress or pillow.

  1. Bodily Hair Growth

Thanks to menopause, many women experience increased hair growth on their face, chest, and back. The hormone to blame is testosterone, which is present in men and women. Although women have lower testosterone levels, during menopause, those levels can increase, leading to unwanted hair growth.

What You Can Do About It:

Self-image and confidence can take a hit when dealing with increased hair growth. If you’re struggling with something, know that you don’t have to live with it. You cn try many hair removal options, from shaving and waxing to lasers and electrolysis. 

  1. Bladder Control Issues

Due to the changes in hormones, menopause can cause urinary incontinence – the involuntary leakage of urine. It is usually caused by a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles are weak, they can’t support the bladder properly, and urine leaks out.

What You Can Do About It:

There are several things you can do to ease bladder control issues. First, try doing pelvic floor exercises regularly. These exercises help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder.

You can also try using a vaginal dilator, a device that helps stretch and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. If these methods don’t work, some medications can help.

Final Thoughts

Physical and mental changes are a natural part of menopause. These changes can harmlessly come and go or persist and become disruptive. But no matter what changes you’re experiencing, know that solutions are available. From making lifestyle changes to trying medications, there are many ways to ease your symptoms. So, don’t suffer in silence – reach out for help if you need it.

And most importantly, don’t forget that you’re not alone in this. Millions of women are going through the same thing. You got this!

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