Thursday, August 7, 2008
Being in the Hot Flash Pajama Business, I’m asked daily about the symptoms of menopause. For many women, the years leading up to menopause are simply very hot. Not necessarily the sexy kind of hot, but rather the hot flashes and night sweats kind of hot. There is a reason why our night sweat pajamas are called Cool-jams! According to many reports, hot flashes and night sweats are the primary symptom of perimenopause and menopause.
In my research , I’ve found that the average age of perimenopause is between 49 and 51, but it can began as early as 35. The official definition of menopause is the cessation of all menstrual activity for 12 months, however this can vary for many women. It seems that even if a women continues to get her period in her 50’s she may still be post menopausal. A better gauge is the FSH test. If the level of this hormone is over 60, generally a women is post menopausal. Dr.Dan Einhorn in San Diego explains . “ You might have your period even when you are officially post menopausal( high FSH level) because your ovaries are still producing a small amount of estrogen. Actually this can be a blessing for some women because the small bit of estrogen eases menopausal symptoms.”
What are the other symptoms of menopause?
Irregular Cycles…this is how it all seems to start. It is not uncommon for a women to skip her period for 6 months and then it comes back hard and heavy for the next year. Women can still get pregnant during this phase, so it is important to keep using birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This is when the “ late in life” children magically appear.
Menopause is filled with a many symptoms besides hot flashes and irregular cycles. Of course not everyone experiences all of the symptoms, but they can include irritability, nervousness, dry skin, vaginal dryness , weight gain, concentration problems, depression and brain fog.
These symptoms are generally a result of hormonal fluctuations. In a nutshell, the pituitary gland stops producing estrogen, which in turn leads the ovaries to stop producing progesterone.
Estrogen and progesterone are the two key hormones in the menstrual cycle, that stimulate the ovaries to release eggs and to build up of the uterine lining. So naturally as these functions decline, the women’s FSH( follicle stimulating hormone) increases because the body keeps telling itself to produce more estrogen and progesterone, but the body continues to produce less and less as time goes on.
Many women who have been healthy and happy all their lives, suddenly are facing this major change right around the time the kids are leaving and their bodies are changing. Menopause combined with other changes in your life can wreak havoc on your well being. Please remember you are not alone. Discuss your issues with your doctor and don’t be embarrassed about any of these symptoms.
No matter what menopausal issues a woman' is dealing with … hot flashes, irritability, irregular cycles, it's important to consult your physician. Be sure to get an annual pap smear and mammogram to make sure you are healthy and there are no underlying problems that you need to address.
Photo by: Silent Butler