Menopause can be an intimidating and often daunting experience for many women — even those with ample knowledge of its effects on the body. Yet, it is a naturally occurring transition in every woman’s life cycle, but has often been surrounded by misunderstandings and social stigmas, which have led to outdated beliefs and feelings of shame or embarrassment.
But let us be clear — menopause affects all women’s bodies in one way or another, and embracing this fact can help you better understand the changes that occur during this time. Changes like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, and insomnia are common symptoms that are nothing to be ashamed of — and learning how to recognize and manage them positively is key to understanding how menopause works. From digestive health supplements to help with bloating and gas to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there are multiple ways to cope with the changes that occur during menopause.
This article will explore five surprising ways menopause changes your body — from physical effects to hormonal imbalances, lifestyle adjustments, and more. We hope to provide insight into what goes on within us during this period so that we can all come together to support each other’s journeys through this period of life. So, it’s time to begin exploring the surprising things menopause does to our bodies.
1) Increased Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, and Osteoporosis
It’s true — hormonal changes during menopause can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. But don’t let this deter you from leading a fulfilling life during this time.
Making simple lifestyle adjustments like exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods, and practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help prevent the onset of such conditions. It’s also important to stay on top of your health through regular checkups with your primary care doctor as well as any specialists. Early detection can go a long way in terms of prevention, so be sure to follow up on any advice or information given to you throughout your appointments.
2) Hair Growth Changes
As we go through menopause, our hair can experience many changes. Among the most common is thinning hair, which can make us feel self-conscious and less confident in our physical appearance.
It’s important to remember that this is just another symptom, and there are measures we can take to make ourselves feel better about it. First and foremost, it’s essential to consult with a qualified doctor or dermatologist in order to identify the root cause and develop a tailored plan for treatment. Additionally, scalp massage techniques like dry brushing can help promote blood circulation and foster healthy hair growth.
It might also be time to switch up your hairstyle. For example, consider cutting shorter layers around the face or opting for an edgier hairdo such as a pixie cut or asymmetrical bob. Not only will these looks flatter your facial features, but they’re also much easier to maintain if you don’t have as much hair. Finally, try not to resort to any drastic solutions like coloring your hair or using harsh chemicals. Instead, opt for natural remedies that nourish and protect the scalp.
The key here is learning how to accept and embrace the changes going on in our bodies during menopause — including those related to our hair. You can still look fabulous without sacrificing quality or health with proper care.
3) Vaginal Dryness and Changes in Sexual Response
Menopause can bring about some unwelcome changes in our sexual response — namely, reduced vaginal lubrication and decreased libido.
The good news is that there are steps we can take to reduce these effects. For starters, be sure to drink plenty of water and incorporate foods with omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, as these may help improve moisture levels in the vagina, according to research. Additionally, using a personal lubricant during sexual activity won’t only make sex enjoyable, but it may also help boost arousal and sensation.
Other things that you can do to maintain comfort during sex include scheduling intimacy for times when you feel most relaxed, exploring different positions that may be more comfortable or stimulating for you, and even incorporating toys into the bedroom if you so choose. Above all else, remember that having an open dialogue with your partner is essential to ensure both parties feel safe and respected throughout the experience.
4) Fatigue and Insomnia
Menopause often brings about fatigue and difficulty sleeping, despite having adequate rest. While it’s natural to feel tired every now and then, this condition can become a source of distress if not addressed properly.
The most effective way to address the problem is to understand what’s causing it. In many cases, hormonal changes during menopause can be the root cause — so exploring hormone therapy may be beneficial. During these treatments, hormones are balanced out to reduce symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue that come with menopause.
That being said, hormone therapy isn’t for everyone, so if you’re considering this course of action, make sure to speak with your doctor first. It’s important to note that there are non-medicinal methods of restoring balance as well. Getting enough sleep (at least seven to eight hours per night), starting an exercise routine, and eating a nutritious diet are all ways to restore energy levels naturally! In addition, meditation or yoga can help alleviate stress, while essential oils might provide some relaxation before bedtime.
Armed with knowledge about the benefits of hormone therapy and other natural solutions, we don’t have to let those feelings get in the way of leading a fulfilling life!
5) Gastrointestinal Issues
Menopause can bring about various gastrointestinal (GI) issues — from heartburn and indigestion to constipation and diarrhea. For many, this can manifest in bloating, belching, constipation, and even new food intolerances. This can be especially troublesome for those who already suffer from digestive ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
There are several things that you can do to lessen your GI discomfort. First, be mindful of how much fiber you consume. Too much fiber can promote bloating and worsen symptoms. Additionally, try to stick to low-fat foods and consume more probiotics — which may reduce unpleasant gastric effects.
If dietary modifications don’t seem to make a difference, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor. Hormone replacement therapy or other medications might help manage symptoms and allow for relief from uncomfortable abdominal cramps or frequent urination.
Gastrointestinal upset doesn’t have to be a regular occurrence during menopause. With some research and dedication, you can find relief. Keeping track of what food makes you feel good (or bad) may help pinpoint what works best for you. Speaking with professionals will ensure you get the help you need when other methods aren’t successful. It’s all about being proactive in taking charge of your health so that GI issues no longer stand in the way of living life on your own terms.
Final Thoughts on Menopausal Changes
Women should never feel embarrassed or ashamed when it comes to their menopausal symptoms and personal health. There are many support groups out there that provide resources to help manage the physical, mental, and emotional effects of this period in our lives — so do some research and find one that is right for you. Lastly, remember that going through this is an opportunity for us all to become more aware and empowered with our bodies. Being informed about these common risks and changes and educating ourselves on effective, safe solutions can help us take more control over our well-being and lead healthier lives.