Yesterday, we looked at a fellow sister-in-Christ’s experience with peri-menopause and menopause and gleaned wisdom from her journey.
Today, I am going to talk about some medical ideas you can talk with your doctor about and some spiritual ideas for handling this phase of life. Some women start peri-menopause as early as in their 30s. Some don’t start until their late 40s or 50s. Most go through several years of symptoms of peri-menopause as our bodies begin turning off the flow of estrogen that has been regulating our menstrual cycle since the onset of puberty.
This post is not a replacement for talking with your doctor. If you are experiencing medical problems, please see your MD, call your pharmacist or call and talk to your nurse at your doctor’s office!
HERE IS WHAT WEBMD has to say:
Perimenopause, or menopause transition, is the stage of a woman’s reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but can start in a woman’s 30s or even earlier.
Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, this decline in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women experience menopausal symptoms.
How Long Does Perimenopause Last?
The average length of perimenopause is four years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends the first year after menopause (when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period).
What Are the Signs of Perimenopause?
You may recognize perimenopause when you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Breast tenderness
- Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
- Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
- Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
- Mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
Can I Get Pregnant If I Am Perimenopausal?
Yes. Despite a decline in fertility during the perimenopause stage, you can still become pregnant. If you do not want to become pregnant, you should continue to use some form of birth control until you reach menopause (you have gone 12 months without having your period).
Are There Treatments That Can Reduce the Symptoms Associated With Perimenopause?
Many women experience relief from hot flashes after taking low-dose birth control pills for a short period of time. Other options that may control hot flashes include the birth control skin patch, vaginal ring, and progesterone injections. Certain women should not use birth control hormones, so talk to your doctor to see if they are right for you.
I am going to describe what some women do to treat peri-menopause. Please talk with your own doctor to decide what is best for you. I cannot diagnose or prescribe anything for anyone. Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas to talk with your doctor about. I cannot guarantee safety and/or efficacy of any of these options. Please do your own research!
Doctors used to give almost all perimenopausal women estrogen and/or progesterone hormones. It was thought for decades that these things were ultimately helpful for women in many ways. Unfortunately, a huge long term study revealed that giving estrogen supplements increased the risk of cardiac problems and other health problems. Some women still do use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – but smokers should not use it and women with family history of breast cancer should not use it.
- There are some disposable patches called i-Cool that you can try during hot flashes – or you can keep ice packs in the freezer and use those when a hot flash happens. It should bring a good bit of relief.
- Some natural treatment options discussed on webmd.com
- Sometimes low dose birth control pills are used temporarily. Sometimes anti-depressants are used for awhile. Be sure you read the warnings and the patient leaflet information before taking birth control pills or anti-depressants. There are important things you need to know before starting on these medications!
- Some women try Saint John’s Wort (it can interact with birth control pills) – please check with your MD before starting this herbal therapy.
- Some women believe that taking a Vitamin B complex or just Vitamin B6 seems to help.
- Getting outside in the sunshine can be very helpful!
- Exercising can actually help many kinds of depression. Shoot for 30 minutes 5 days/week.
Declining estrogen levels associated with menopause can cause more than those pesky hot flashes. They can also make a woman feel like she is in a constant state of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Unfortunately, these emotional changes are a normal part of menopause.
Some of the emotional changes experienced by women undergoing perimenopauseor menopause can include:
- Feelings of sadness
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes
If you are feeling irritable and sad, there is a good chance it could be related to menopause, but the above listed symptoms are not linked only to menopause. There are a number of conditions that can cause you to feel downright irritable. Tell your doctor how you are feeling, so he or she can rule out other medical or psychiatric conditions.
How Can I Cope With the Emotional Changes of Menopause?
Irritability and feelings of sadness are the most common emotional symptoms of menopause. Often, they can be managed through lifestyle changes, such as learning ways to relax and reduce stress.
Here are some tips that may make it easier for you to handle your fluctuating emotions:
- Exercise and eat healthy.
- Find a self-calming skill to practice, such as yoga, meditation, or rhythmic breathing. (From Peacefulwife – PRAY, MEMORIZE and MEDITATE on GOD’S WORD!)
- Avoid tranquilizers and alcohol.
- Engage in a creative outlet that fosters a sense of achievement.
- Stay connected with your family and community.
- Nurture your friendships.
Although depression is not caused by menopause, some women exhibit the symptoms of depression during this time. If you are feeling increasingly unable to cope, see your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend medicine, such as antidepressants, or therapy that can get you through this rough time.
- lubricants – ie: KY Jelly, Astroglide, apply before/during intercourse. (Only use water-based lubricants, never Vaseline!)
- Replens – a long-acting lubricant – supposed to last several days.
- Vagifem – a prescription vaginal estrogen tablet
- Estring – a prescription vaginal ring
- Seek God’s wisdom and direction along with your husband’s input – is there a ministry God desires you to be involved in now that you have more time?
- Are there young wives who could use a godly mentor?
- How does your husband want to use this time? Could you spend more time enjoying each other?
- Spend more time with God and in His Word.
- Take time to exercise and eat right and take good care of your health.
- Become a prayer warrior, bringing the needs of others to the Lord.
- seek a godly mentoring wife who will pray with you and be a shoulder to cry on when you are feeling overwhelmed
- SING praises to God all day long in your heart and out loud whenever possible. Listen to worship music as much as you can.
- spend time in prayer, studying God’s Word, seeking God with all your heart
- learn to lean on His wisdom and not your own understanding!
- if your husband is spiritually/emotionally stable, learn to depend on his assessment of situations and trust his judgment when your hormones have you feeling very upset.
- Learn to trust God and embrace any suffering as something He can and will use to make you more mature, holy and Christ-like. This is a perfect time to read James 1 and I Peter, Romans 8-12 and the Psalms. It’s also an incredible time to learn about God’s sovereignty and study Isaiah, Jeremiah and the Old Testament Prophets.
- Understand that your feelings and emotions can and will lie to you and your heart can deceive you. Trust in God not in self!
- This is a fantastic time to develop true humility.
- Daily dying to self is very necessary!
- Keep Christ first by a mile in your life! Desire Him and Him alone. Be content in Him. Only He can truly satisfy!
- Live in total submission to Jesus – giving Him this time and seeking His greatest glory in it.
- Focus on asking God to cultivate in you the inner beauty that is so precious to Him – a gentle and peaceful (still) spirit that does what is right and… that does not give way to hysterical fear. I Peter 3
- Focus on meeting your husband’s needs and be conscious about being friendly in your tone of voice and facial expressions. Develop a servant’s heart.
How about you?
Have you gone through peri-menopause or menopause and have some pearls of wisdom to share with the other ladies? Let’s support one another and pray for each other through these difficult times.