Let’s talk about the menopause. In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of the menopause and its impact on your sleep.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is the time in a woman’s life when she stops producing eggs from her ovaries (ovulation) and stops having periods (ceases menstruation). Menopause normally occurs when a woman reaches around 50 years of age and levels of the body’s sex hormone, oestrogen, decreases.
Signs and symptoms of the menopause?
During the early stages of the menopause, women will often experience changes in their monthly periods and may also experience:
- mood changes, such as anxiety or depression
- reduced libido and vaginal dryness
- heart palpitations
- hot flushes and night sweats
Menopause and sleep
Menopause can have a detrimental effect on sleep, causing insomnia and night sweats. Night sweats occur as a result of hot flushes during the night. A hot flush makes you feel very hot, very suddenly, normally lasting no longer than a few minutes. When they occur at night, they can disrupt sleep, which can lead to irritability and a lack of concentration during the day.
Treatments for the menopause
If your menopause symptoms are extreme and affecting your day to day life, you might want to visit your GP to discuss Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or anti-depressants. There are also a number of natural remedies for menopause and night sweats, as well as simple lifestyle changes that you can make to ease the symptoms of menopause:
- Regular exercise – as well as boosting mood, regular exercise will help you avoid putting on weight and has been shown to reduce menopause symptoms.
- Healthy diet – during the menopause, decreased oestrogen levels also cause a decrease in calcium, which can affect bone strength. A healthy balanced diet will keep bones and muscles strong.
- Stop smoking – not only can smoking cause earlier onset of the menopause, but it can also cause hot flushes to be more severe.
- Keep cool – wear light clothing and opt for light bedding to keep you cool at night time.
- Relax – stress can trigger hot flushes and affect your sleep.
The menopause is no longer a taboo subject. Talking about the changes your body is going through with other women can be a rewarding, uplifting experience. Sometimes you can feel isolated going through the menopause and struggle to find information and support around symptoms from traditional sources. This is where the Menopause Café comes in! This is a safe space where women experiencing the menopause can meet, chat and discuss their experiences in a safe and welcoming space. The Menopause Café initiative has a presence throughout the U.K. and you can meet up as often or as little as you like. For some, just knowing that this support is available is incredibly encouraging. Find out if there’s a café near you or how to start one in your area here.
To read more about the menopause, have a look at our topic, Menopause & Sleep.