The transition to menopause is unique to every woman. Some women experience mild changes, while others experience debilitating symptoms.
Most women enter menopause between the ages of 45 and 54. The transition period can last anywhere between 7 and 15 years, depending on the individual.
During this time, your body adjusts to lower levels of estrogen. You’re considered menopausal one year after you’ve had your last period.
If you’re struggling with symptoms as a consequence of menopause, read on. Below, we asked our experts at Washington Center for Women's and Children's Wellness to explain what could worsen this transition and what treatments are available to balance hormones.
Symptoms associated with menopause
You may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Poor memory
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
In addition, under the influence of more androgens and less estrogen, your risk for low bone density and heart disease increases.
Factors that may worsen your transition to menopause
Elevated blood sugar levels and chronic stress can worsen your transition to menopause.
All estrogen is created in the body through the conversion of androgens to estrogen. However, this conversion is stalled when blood sugar levels are high.
Chronic stress can also contribute to the worsening of your symptoms. During periods of prolonged stress, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) secretes cortisol, preparing your body to enter fight-or-flight mode.
During this period, more glucose from the bloodstream is mobilized to increase energy levels. In the short term, this sharp increase in energy isn’t detrimental, but if the stress doesn’t go away, blood sugar levels remain high, impairing the conversion of androgens to estrogen.
Learning how to manage your stress can be helpful with deactivating the HPA axis and reducing your menopausal symptoms. Yoga, meditation, journaling, or even spending time in nature are all proven ways to manage stress.
Managing menopausal symptoms
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is sometimes recommended to women who are in general good health, don’t have a history of breast cancer or blood clotting disorders, and want to manage their symptoms.
Since stress plays a big role in adjusting to menopause, our staff also offers psychotherapy and medications that balance neurotransmitters to reduce your risk for depression or mood swings. If you’re looking to get personalized help for your menopausal symptoms that takes into account your physical and mental health, contact us to schedule an appointment.