Hot flashes and night sweats aren’t just uncomfortable, they can wake you up and prevent you from getting a full night of restorative rest. Insomnia is one reason many women find that menopause doesn’t have just physical symptoms, but mental and emotional ones, too.
Although menopause is a normal, healthy stage of life, you don’t have to put up with its symptoms. Staci L. McHale, MD, FACOG at New Beginnings Ob-Gyn helps you understand how menopause can affect everything from your physical well-being to your mental health.
Blame your hormones
As you go through perimenopause and then enter menopause, your levels of the hormone estrogen and the steroid progesterone plummet. Low levels of estrogen can lead to physical symptoms, such as:
- Decreased libido
- Dry vagina
- Uncomfortable or painful sex
- Fewer pleasurable sensations
- Inability to climax
You may wonder why you’re not interested in sex anymore and wish that you could get back to a healthy sex life. When you don’t feel like having sex, your relationship can suffer, too.
In addition, estrogen affects your mood by modulating the production of “feel good” endorphins. During the perimenopausal period, as estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, you may feel depressed or anxious. Some of the symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling irritated or frustrated
- Getting angry easily
- Having trouble concentrating
- Losing interest in activities you once loved
- Feeling low in energy or fatigued
- Having trouble making decisions
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Having pain you can’t explain
You’re more likely to experience depression during menopause if you were already prone to depression or anxiety before menopause.
The changes are real
In addition to the drops in your estrogen levels and other hormonal shifts, you may be going through life changes at the same time you’re dealing with the changes of menopause. Your children may be leaving home. You may be losing loved ones and friends.
Aging and menopause also create changes in your appearance that affect your mood. Even if you feel young and vibrant inside, watching your hair gray and thin, and noticing sagging skin and wrinkles reminds you that you’re getting older.
Improve your sleep and your health
By making a few lifestyle changes, you may be able to improve your sleep quality so your body and brain fully rest and recharge. Your body also produces hormones while you sleep. To improve sleep, try:
- Quitting smoking and alcohol
- Avoiding heavy meals three hours before bedtime
- Establishing a set bedtime and rise time
- Sleeping in a cool (65-degree Fahrenheit), totally dark room
- Blocking blue light by wearing amber glasses after dark
- Using blue-blocking apps on tablets, phones, and laptops
- Winding down at least two hours before bedtime
- Meditating or doing gentle yoga before bed
Also make sure you’re eating a diet filled with fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins and fats, and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Adding more exercise into your day can also help you sleep at night. Just be sure not to exercise within a few hours of bedtime, as it can raise your heart rate and make it difficult to calm down.
Get help with your mood
If lifestyle adjustments don’t give you relief from feelings of anxiety and depression, you may want to look into various therapies that can help you manage your mood, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and talk therapy. Adjusting your hormones with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also help you feel like your old (younger!) self again.
The providers at New Beginnings Ob-Gyn only recommend HRT that’s been proven safe and effective. Other benefits of HRT include keeping your bones healthy and resolving the physical symptoms of menopause, including low libido and hot flashes.
To find out if you’re a candidate for HRT, call us today. You can also book a hormone imbalance consultation with our online form.