While menstruation makes a woman capable of supporting a pregnancy, menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive life cycle. Women are said to reach menopause only if one whole year passes by, without a menstrual period. Perimenopause is the transitional period that precedes menopause, and it is marked by irregularities in the menstrual cycle.
Such changes are attributed to a decline in the levels of estrogen and progesterone. Under normal circumstances, a woman's menstrual cycle ranges anywhere between 28 to 35 days, but as a woman approaches menopause, the ability of ovaries to release eggs is greatly affected.
As a result, the duration of the menstrual cycle changes. During this transition, women may experience heavy menstrual flow, along with various discomforting symptoms. For some women, this phase may last for a few months, while some may experience such symptoms for years. Therefore, women must prepare themselves for this transition.
The symptoms that women experience during this phase are attributed to the dip in the levels of estrogen and progesterone. Before the menstruation stops completely, women may have frequent periods. Heavy menstrual bleeding and other irregularities in the menstrual cycle often stresses them out.
Physical changes such as breast tenderness, hot flashes, chills, headaches, night sweats, flushed skin, or fatigue are usually accompanied by mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Hormonal changes may also affect the levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating sleep cycle.
This is the reason why some women may have trouble getting proper sleep, which in turn may make them highly irritable. Women may also face trouble concentrating. Impairment of short-term memory may also be seen in some women.
Reduced sex drive and vaginal dryness may also occur due to hormonal changes. Some women may experience water retention, unexplained weight gain, or urinary incontinence during this transitional period.
The effect hormonal changes may have on a woman's mind and body when she is menopausal will vary, depending on her overall health. For some women, the symptoms may not be very severe, while some may be in great distress. For women who experience severe symptoms, hormone replacement therapy might be suggested for treatment.
However, the use of synthetic hormones may make women susceptible to heart disease, blood clotting disorders, or breast cancer. Selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) drugs may be prescribed to ease the symptoms during this period, but certain side effects might be associated with the use of these drugs as well.
Thus, following natural remedies is definitely a safer option. Given here are some home remedies that women can follow:
Tackling Hot Flashes: Most women feel a sudden rush of heat in their body during this time. Therefore, they should wear light clothing made from cotton or any other breathable fabric. Sipping cold water or applying cold compresses on the face will also provide relief.
Refrain from taking caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and spicy foods, as that could cause flushed skin. Including dietary sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids to the diet might prove beneficial. Soy products, dark leafy vegetables, and legumes that contain phytoestrogens can also help in reducing the incidence of hot flashes.
Since taking a nap during the day may affect their ability to sleep at night, women who are having difficulty sleeping must avoid sleeping during the day. Relaxation techniques will also regularize the sleep cycle.
Herbs: Since the decline in estrogen and progesterone levels is responsible for causing the physical and emotional symptoms, one can take herbs that stimulate the production of these hormones. Under Chinese medicine, herbs such as cornus, rehmannia, poria, Chinese wild yam, moutan bark, and alisma are used for making a herbal tea.
This herbal tea is believed to be quite effective in alleviating the symptoms. Other herbs such as dong quai, chasteberry, Siberian ginseng, gingko biloba, evening primrose, black cohosh, and Peruvian maca root may also put one at ease. However, one must consult an herbal practitioner before following any herbal remedy.
Besides the aforementioned natural remedies, women must also follow a well-balanced diet that provides their body with the essential nutrients. Since hormonal changes can cause weight gain, women must stay physically active during this time.
Quitting smoking, and lowering the intake of alcohol and processed foods will also help. It is also important to stay well-hydrated at all times. Making the right lifestyle choices will definitely help women prepare themselves well for this transitional phase before menopause.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.