October is Menopause Awareness Month. Since 2009, this month has been an opportunity to raise awareness of menopause and related health issues.
Here are some things you might not know about menopause.
You don’t have to accept discomfort
Some women know they’re in perimenopause or menopause only because they have irregular periods and then their periods end. Twelve months after your last period, you are through with perimenopause and have completed menopause. You can no longer become pregnant and can stop using birth control.
But some women experience a startling variety of symptoms. Here is a list of experiences that can come with menopause:
- Body odor
- Breast tenderness
- Burning mouth syndrome
- Dry mouth and dental problems
- Dry skin
- Hair loss or thinning hair
- Inability to concentrate
- Irregular periods
- Loss of breast fullness
- Mood changes
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Night sweats
- Skipped periods
- Sleep problems or insomnia
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
Courtesy of Everyday Health
Most women never discuss these concerns with their doctors, but it’s worth bringing them up when you go for a regular check up. Often your doctor will have a solution to offer.
Sometimes Hormone Replacement Therapy is an option. In other cases, lifestyle changes or over the counter medications can help. Since every woman’s experience of menopause is different, your doctor will have a variety of solutions to suggest.
Sometimes it’s serious
Recent research suggests that women who have two or more serious symptoms of menopause are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.
Beyond this, the loss of estrogen production that characterizes menopause can lead to other health issues:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- glucose intolerance
- weight gain
Estrogen offers women some protection against heart disease and the loss of estrogen production increases the chances of heart disease even without other risk factors. This makes heart-healthy diet and exercise more important than ever. It’s also a good time to ask your doctor whether you need heart health screening on a more frequent schedule than before.
In any case, consider talking with your doctor about menopause if you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. Even though most women don’t ask their doctors about menopausal symptoms, it’s important to do so in order to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, and to address any serious concerns. The attitude that menopause is a small thing and women shouldn’t trouble their doctors with it is an important reason for the existence of Menopause Awareness Month.