Moving Through Menopause

It's a​ rite of​ passage that few women look forward to--menopause. The term refers to​ both the cessation​ of​ one's menstrual period, and​ to​ the time of​ transition​ accompanying this​ event. While many women look forward to​ the end of​ feminine hygiene products, few look forward to​ the hormonal ups and​ downs that lead to​ night sweats, hot flashes, and​ emotional difficulties. Also known as​ the "change of​ life," menopause can be quick and​ relatively painless or​ it​ can be a​ many-year process.

While menopause typically occurs as​ a​ woman ages (it generally occurs between the ages of​ forty-five and​ fifty-five), it​ can also result from surgical procedures that remove a​ woman's reproductive organs and​ therefore creates a​ hormonal state of​ menopause. Many of​ the symptoms of​ menopause are the same. These can include spot bleeding, hot flashes, memory lapse, mood swings, anxiety and​ depression, and​ sexual problems.

in​ recent years, doctors have prescribed hormone replacement therapy for​ many women during and​ after menopause to​ reduce the risks of​ developing osteoporosis. The risks of​ osteoporosis, which is​ the result of​ bones weakening from loss of​ tissue, and​ heart disease increase after menopause. Hormone replacement therapy replaces estrogen, which is​ thought to​ help reduce the risk of​ disease. However, recently, hormone replacement therapy studies showed that the treatment can actually increase incidents of​ heart disease and​ breast cancer and​ does not help osteoporosis. Since these studies, expert opinions have remained mixed on​ the use of​ hormone replacement therapy.

Most experts agree that the best course of​ action​ is​ for​ a​ woman to​ discuss her individual situation​ with a​ doctor. a​ woman can discuss the risks of​ using or​ not using hormone therapy with her doctor to​ make the most informed decision.

in​ addition​ to​ hormone replacement therapy, other treatments for​ menopausal symptoms include naturopathic remedies, changes in​ diet, vitamins, and​ other methods to​ increase overall feelings of​ well-being. Again, each woman must decide for​ herself the best options and​ the severity of​ symptoms. Some women cope with certain​ symptoms of​ menopause okay, while others are less tolerable. Each individual situation​ is​ different, and​ even a​ woman's tolerance of​ some symptoms may vary from month to​ month or​ year to​ year.

for​ those seeking alternative treatments, consider working with a​ naturopathic physician or​ someone trained in​ the use of​ these types of​ treatments. Many over the counter remedies are ineffective and​ some may not be safe. The Food and​ Drug Administration​ (FDA) does not regulate nutritional supplements. Some treatments make claims that are exaggerated or​ unproven, and​ a​ woman considering alternative therapies needs to​ be aware of​ the ingredients in​ any supplements.

Generally, the better care a​ woman can take of​ her overall health, the better. Remaining physically and​ mentally active can help offset some of​ the symptoms of​ menopause. Eating a​ healthy diet, exercising, engaging in​ mentally stimulating activities and​ spending time with family and​ friends can make a​ big difference in​ how a​ woman perceives her overall quality of​ life. These activities can also help a​ woman feel younger during a​ time when her body is​ reminding her that she's not as​ young as​ she once was.

Many resources exist to​ help a​ woman deal with menopause, including the medical profession, a​ wide range of​ organizations, books, and​ support groups. Becoming involved with an​ organization​ or​ group can be useful in​ comparing notes and​ offering mutual support. Information​ can also provide a​ woman with a​ sense of​ control when her body is​ acting out of​ control. Having tools on​ hand​ to​ deal with the daily fluctuations of​ menopause can make the transition​ more bearable.

Menopause does not have to​ be a​ time of​ misery as​ a​ woman transitions from one phase of​ her life to​ another. Many menopausal women live rich, full, and​ exiting lives.

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