OR, What I learned from reading countless articles,
blogs and webzines, and by listening to my customers relate their very personal stories and experiences. This guide is not intended to treat or cure any illness, or medical condition. AND as always if you have any concerns please consult your Doctor, Medical Professional, or Health Care Provider!
Perimenopause, or menopausal transition, often starts with irregular periods, but symptoms may also include hot flashes, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness, itchy skin, mood swings, lowered sexual libido and more. All caused by hormonal changes and surges.
This transitional period can start in the early to mid forties, but may start sooner or later...every woman is different. A woman is only considered to be in Menopause, or Fully Menopausal when her periods have ceased for a full year or more.
Medical history and genetics are strong factors, and severity of symptoms can vary greatly, and may last for over a decade.
Home Remedies, some common sense, and a few dietary changes, can often aleviate or greatly reduce these bothersome episodes:
If you are having problems sleeping, limiting both sugar and caffeine consumption (including chocolate, sodas, coffees and teas) and sticking to a regular bedtime schedule will help with initial tossing and turning, AND reducing (or removing) alcoholic beverages from your routine can often help you sleep through the night, as alcohol consumption can disrupt normal REM sleep cycles. Light to moderate exercise can also improve sleep quality.
Keep your bedroom cool at night, and your bedding extra light to reduce night sweats. Flipping your pillow to the cool side, sleeping in the nude, or at the very least "sans panties" can help as well.
If you are experiencing Hot Flashes, avoiding hot and spicy foods, hot beverages, even hot showers, may help. For some women, even the anxiety of expecting a flash can result in overheating! Practicing deep, slow breathing when you feel a flash coming on can help, fresh oxygen in your system works wonders.
Carrying a fan, the silk or paper type found at import stores, can be a fashionable way to deal with sudden temperature changes...use it as soon as you feel a flash coming on.
Adding soy products, ie. edamame and tofu, to your diet is believed to improve overall balance of estrogen levels. Other foods rich in phytoestrogens include flax seed, wheatberry, and legumes.
Phytoestrogens are known to mimic our own natural estrogens, and attach themselves to our bodies estrogen receptors. Our bodies are essentially "tricked" into better hormonal balance. Medical studies are still out on why, how, or even "if" this works. Personal reports from many women however, report great improvement with physical symptoms including mood swings, hot flashes, and irritablity when they add phytoestrogen rich foods to their diet regularly.
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, Personal Lubricants are your new best friend! Women who have never felt the need, or desire to use a lubricant prior to menopausal changes may now find it an absolute necessity.
Thinning vaginal tissue becomes more delicate, less elastic, and more prone to micro tears and abrasions; tiny tears invisible to the naked eye. These abrasions can be more than just a little painful, and can result in inflamation and infection.
All of these factors combined can lead to a cycle of painful sex, with even drier and tighter vaginal tissue as a result.
Using a good quality personal lubricant during manual stimulation, foreplay, and intercourse, and whenever you use a toy or vibrator, can prevent much of this irritation. I often recommend a hypoallergenic, unscented, moisturizing creme or hybrid lubricant, such as Liquid Silk, whenever personal dryness is an issue throughout the day. Simply apply to inner and outer labia, as well as the vaginal opening, as you would moisturizer to any other part of the body.
For Women without a sex partner, or who are not currently participating in penetrative vaginal sex on a regular basis, the use of a dildo or vibrator can be a sexual health lifesaver. Vibrators, along with personal lubricant, can help keep vaginal tissues flexible, nerve endings responsive, and increase blood flow to this vital area.
Use it Or Lose It! In the case of vaginal health, this adage rings true. As women age, and as estrogen levels drop off, vaginal tissue not only thins, but shrinks and tightens as well.
What at first may seem like a gift, (what woman doesn't like the idea of everything being tight and firm?) may eventually lead to vaginal atrophy. Penetrative sex, or even gynecological exams can be very painful, as the insertion of a speculum is near to impossible.
A series of Dialators (preferably vibrating), may then be necessary to restore vaginal health. These can be in the form of kits, but purchasing a series of toys from small to large, in a smooth material works just fine.
Urinary Incontinence, a fancy term for urinary leakage, can occur at anytime in a woman's life as a result of weakening pelvic floor muscles or trauma.
Kegel exercise can really help to tone and tighten this group of muscles. Speciality products such as Luna Beads and Kegel Balls, can add extra weight resistance, and pleasure to kegel workouts.
The vaginal walls and pelvic floor muscles all work together, especially during climax.
Ultimately, stronger muscles mean stronger contractions, and stronger orgasms.
AND finally, if you continue to experience serious discomfort, insomnia, excessive bleeding during menstruation, painful sex, or feel that things with your body "just aren't right", PLEASE contact your physician. Going through menopausal transition is a natural part of your aging process, but complications can arise that may require medical attention.