From painful intercourse to burning-hot nights, we asked the experts for answers to your most pressing questions about menopause.
1. My mom had hot flashes well into her 70s. Should I expect the same?
Not necessarily, says Holly DuBrey, RN, of Amberen NurseAid. “Women want to know how long menopause is going to last,” she says. “The truth is, no one can say for sure. Everybody is different. Menopause is like a snowflake—everyone has a different one. The symptoms your mom had may be nothing the ones you experience. Not everyone has hot flashes, a decrease in libido or is suddenly getting headaches. Because menopause is caused by fluctuation in hormones, I recommend Amberen, as it helps manage multiple menopausal symptoms by naturally restoring hormonal balance.”
2. Any suggestions how to tactfully explain menopause to friends and co-workers? I’m sure a few of them have already picked up on my hot flashes.
You can feel the beads of sweat coursing down your back, but chances are the people around you have no idea you’re immersed in a personal sauna. But if you’re feeling embarrassed by the perspiration, communication is your best friend. Keep the conversation casual, and stick to the facts you’re comfortable sharing, suggests Kristin Dutton, Amberen Customer Care Supervisor. “I know this is a personal and private matter, but the last thing you should be embarrassed to talk about is menopause.”
In fact, once you begin talking about it, you may be surprised how your coworkers start opening up. Encourage other women to embrace the change and to celebrate menopause. If your female coworkers are not in menopause yet, they probably know somebody who is. And who knows? You may even pick new tricks on how to handle your hot flashes by talking about it.
3. Are there any hot flash triggers I should be aware of?
To decrease your odds of an instant sweat session, steer clear of stress (both physical and mental), caffeine and alcohol, particularly wine. And when possible, try to avoid extreme changes in temperature. “If you work in an air conditioned building and go outside to get lunch and it’s 85 degrees, you may experience a hot flash,” Dutton says.
4. How can I get comfortable at night without freezing the rest of my family?
When you’re battling night sweats and hot flashes, regulating your body temperature becomes tops on your nightly to-do list. For starters, dress in layers that can be peeled off when the heat wave strikes, and stick with PJs made of breathable fabric, like cotton. Running the air conditioner and ceiling fan in the bedroom can also help, so long as your partner is on board with the chillier temps. If yours complains, you may need to sleep in a separate room. Don’t want to snooze solo? Try keeping one area, like a guest room, cooler than the rest of the house, and go there throughout the night when you need to chill out.
5. Any tips on getting a good night’s sleep?
Like your pre-menopausal life, relaxation is key to settling into a peaceful slumber. “As women, we’re so rushed, and all of a sudden, at night, we’re expected to turn our mind off,” Dutton says. To help unwind, she recommends spending an hour or so of downtime before trying to hit the hay. Spend that time with your partner, take a warm bath or read a book—whatever will help you settle down. Caveat: If you like your comforting glass of wine in the evening, never drink it near bedtime, as it can increase wakefulness long into the night.
6. My sex life has taken a hit. Help!
For starters, go easy on yourself, says DuBrey. Considering all the physical and emotional changes taking place in your body, you’re dealing with a lot, and it’s no wonder your libido is lower than normal. “Take a moment to realize that, and give yourself a chance to just relax and enjoy time with your partner,” she advises. “I always recommend people find a way to destress themselves, as it lowers menopause symptoms and helps them relax for sex.” Try a warm bath before sex as a pregame activity, as well as allowing more time to set the mood with candlelight, romantic movies, sexy lingerie, fantasy or massage. A personal lubricant can also be used, if you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, a common symptom of menopause.
The bottom line is, if you value your sex life, you may have to try more things and work harder to maintain it. Women who continue to have regular sex during menopause transition have fewer problems than those who cut back or stop. Part of the reason is physiological. The more sex you have, the more you encourage blood flow to the genital region, which helps to keep the tissues healthier.
If you have more questions about menopause (and you probably do), speak to an Amberen NurseAid expert by calling (800) 211-8021 Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. EST.