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woman dealing with menopauseMost of the side effects of what we commonly call menopause is actually part of perimenopause when the ovaries begin producing less of the hormone estrogen. Perimenopause usually begins in your 40s, but you could start to notice changes in your mid- to late 30s. This can last for up to 10 years until you reach menopause, which begins when you haven’t had a period for at least one year.

Mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats are side effects that nearly every woman will experience. Mood swings caused by hormone fluctuations can leave you feeling more irritable, more sensitive, or more tearful. It's a time when friends and family can help with an extra dose of kindness and understanding.

Hot flashes and night sweats are the body's way of resetting your internal thermostat to account for the loss of estrogen that helps to regulate your temperature. You can cool things down by practicing relaxation techniques and getting adequate sleep on a regular schedule. Go to bed in comfortable and lightweight pajamas with a fan on to stay cooler.

As your hormone levels drop, you’ll experience irregular periods because you’re ovulating less frequently. You may have longer, heavier periods or lighter ones. A balanced diet with plenty of lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats can help, along with low-to-moderate level exercise like brisk walking or yoga for 150 minutes a week.

The lack of estrogen can also cause vaginal tissues to become thinner and drier, with itching and irritation that might make intercourse uncomfortable. A lubrication gel may provide relief and vaginal moisturizers and vaginal estrogen products can also help ease dryness.

Loss of estrogen can also lead to weight gain that’s commonly seen in the stomach and midsection. Regular exercise can help with this, along with a balanced diet that includes enough vitamin D and calcium to help preserve bones and joints.

This is all a moving target, so be sure to to see your doctor for yearly check-ups to monitor cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and weight gain.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax