Menopause occurs at the end of your menstrual cycle. As you age, your ovaries stop producing eggs, which means there is no need for a monthly period. As your menstruation stops, your estrogen hormones drop and you enter menopause.
The process of transitioning out of fertility can take a few years. Some women experience menopause throughout their 50s, though every person is unique. Menopause isn’t an easy process to go through. Here are three tips to help you prepare for your last period and beyond.
1. Learn to identify the signs.
When you think about menopause, most people picture hot flashes and night sweats, two common symptoms that are portrayed on TV. However, there are multiple symptoms of menopause that can strike throughout the process.
First, learn the symptoms of early menopause, often called perimenopause. This can begin a few years before menopause starts, as your body prepares for the full transition. A few of the early signs of menopause include changes to your menstrual period, sleep problems, irritability, mood swings, low sex drive, and weight gain.
Oftentimes, women write off these symptoms as a normal part of aging. However, they could be a warning that menopause is on its way. The average age that women start perimenopause is in their 40s, however, some women experience this in their late 30s. Perimenopause can also go on for a few years as estrogen levels drop and the ovaries stop releasing eggs.
2. Keep up with your diet and exercise plan.
It’s not uncommon for menopause symptoms to drive changes in behavior. For example, mood changes can cause you to abandon your healthy diet, giving up your balanced dinner in favor of ice cream for dessert. Restless nights can increase your dependence on caffeine while also leaving you too tired to exercise.
Despite the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, it’s important to keep up with your diet and exercise plans. Your physical health is more important than ever. Your hormones are changing and you are approaching midlife. This makes you more prone to conditions like osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast cancer.
Keep up with your medical appointments, including seeing your gynecologist. Discuss any lifestyle changes that could impact the menopause process and potentially make your symptoms worse.
3. Seek out counseling or therapy.
Menopause is called “the change” for a reason. You are closing one chapter of your life and starting a new one. After decades of having regular periods and practicing healthy birth control habits, you are about to reach a point of infertility. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by this process and even scared for the future.
Seeking out therapy can help you cope with the emotions of menopause. Not only will a therapist be able to help you guide you through your emotions and mood swings, but they will help you process this new chapter in your life.
You might also want to seek out relationship counseling with your partner as you start menopause. One of the side effects of menopause involves changes in sexual function. Your libido may drop and you may have vaginal discomfort during intercourse. A therapist can teach you communication techniques, like how to ask for more lubricant or to change positions to make sex comfortable and enjoyable again.
Just like puberty, you can’t stop menopause. It is an inevitable change in a woman’s life. However, if you know how to handle the discomfort that comes with night sweats and hot flashes, then you can prepare for any issues you face in the coming months. Turn to other women who have been through menopause and perimenopause before you. They can help you navigate these hormonal changes.