All About Menopause

Menopause is the time of a woman’s life that marks the end of her menstrual and fertility cycles. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51, but it generally occurs between the ages of 40-59. Menopause will occur naturally with age, or it may sometimes be caused by surgical intervention of removing ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Menopause is diagnosed once a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period. It will often occur over a few years as the body is transitioning into menopause. Menopause occurs as the levels of estrogen and progesterone begin to change. This can result in symptoms that may be uncomfortable for some.  It is best to see your OBGYN, as they can help you through this time with advice and treatment.


Symptoms of Menopause

Some of the symptoms you may experience during menopause are:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Painful sex
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Irregular periods – either very heavy or not at routine intervals
  • Mood changes
  • Chills
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Less full breasts
  • Hair thinning or loss

Due to the hormonal changes occurring in the body, some women may also develop depression.


Why Does Menopause Occur?

Menopause is a process that occurs when your ovaries age and produce less hormones. The body begins to change as you have lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. 

Initially, you may see the start of menopause with changes in your monthly menstrual cycle – the frequency may decrease, but the flow is heavier and lasts longer. 


Natural Remedies to Help with Symptoms

It is important to consult your OBGYN, as he/she may be able to prescribe medications or creams that help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause.

However, you can seek relief at home too by following a few of these ideas:

  • Keep cool and comfortable – wearing loose, layered clothing can help you to cope with hot flashes. Also, try keep your bedroom cooler at night, and avoid heavy blankets if you are prone to night sweats. You can also carry around a small portable fan for those moments when you really need a breeze to cool off.
  • Exercise – adding 20-30 minutes of exercise a day, even walking, can help to increase your energy, promote better sleep at night and improve and stabilize your moods.
  • Vitamin supplements – taking additional vitamin D, calcium and magnesium can help to improve energy, mood and sleep as well as help to prevent osteoarthritis.
  • Communicating your needs – as your moods may be affected by menopause, it is important you have physical and emotional support around you.  Whether this is family, friends, or a professional therapist, it is important that you have someone to talk to.

There are many simple things you can do to help yourself, but seeing a health professional is important too. They will assist you and guide you towards the best treatment for you.

Postpartum care: how to look after yourself

“Postpartum” refers to the six weeks after the birth of your baby. It is such a special time of bonding with your baby, as well as a time of adjustment to all the lifestyle changes. However, it is also important to look after yourself after the birth of your baby.

Depending on whether you had a vaginal or caesarian section, your body will require some different recovery strategies.  Regardless, both types of delivery are taxing on your body, so you make sure that you employ these simple, universal tactics for self-care:

  1. Get enough rest. We know this is easier said than done, but you and your body need to heal and adjust to these new expectations and changes on your body. Your baby will wake up every two to three hours, so it is important that you get as much sleep and rest as possible whenever you can.  

  2. Eat healthy meals. It’s important that you are stocking up on your vitamins, minerals, whole grains and extra protein as this will help you to heal faster. It’s also good to be drinking extra fluids – especially if you are breastfeeding.

  3. Ask for help.  It’s okay to ask friends and family for support. Your body needs to heal, and you will need practical hands on help around the house.  Most of your close ones will be happy to help, so give them a chance to be involved and assist with cooking meals, running errands and handling simple chores if needed.


Vaginal delivery vs caesarian section

The type of delivery you have may affect the length of your hospital stay and some of the restrictions and discomfort you may experience postpartum.

After a vaginal delivery, you may experience some tenderness while sitting due to a pelvic floor tear or episiotomy.  Sitting on a special cushion or “donut” may relieve some of this pain. Sitz baths may be helpful for post-episiotomy soreness as well.  It is important to increase your fiber and fluid intake to avoid any constipation. Talk with your doctor if you need stool softeners to help you with this.

After a caesarian section, you may not be able to drive or pick up anything heavy for up to six weeks’ postpartum. Your doctor will let you know how long you should rest. Avoid doing any “sit-up” motions, crunches, or anything that requires using your abdominal muscles, as they will require some time to heal. Your incision site may be tender initially, but it will heal and become less uncomfortable with time. It is important to keep the scar area clean and dry.

If you have concerns or are simply wondering if what you are feeling is normal, then it’s best to contact your doctor. The doctors and medical professionals at HART Fertility Clinic would be happy to help you as you journey through these first few weeks with your baby.