When people think of menopause, hot flashes often come to mind. But some women experience different symptoms during this time – and others may have no symptoms at all. Clinically speaking, menopause occurs when a woman goes 12 months without a menstrual period. It’s called a retrospective diagnosis because you may not know you’ve gone through it until it’s over.
Below, CentraState gynecologist Helen Simigiannis, MD, explains some lesser-known symptoms of menopause and what you can do about them.
As women age, estrogen levels decrease, which can affect the skin at a cellular level. As a result, skin loses some of its elasticity. Women may also experience dry skin after menopause.
What you can do: Always wear sunscreen when going outside. Eating fresh, healthy foods, staying hydrated, and avoiding smoking can help, too. Moisturize your skin with lotions that contain shea butter or glycerin. While more research is needed, some studies show that adding powdered collagen to your drinks may help improve skin elasticity.
Whether your hair’s not as thick and lustrous as it used to be or you notice unwanted facial hair, hormone fluctuations during menopause may be the reason. Hair loss can be linked to other issues, too, like genetics, stress, illness, or medications. Less estrogen and more testosterone are usually the cause of unwanted hair.
What you can do: Talk with your doctor to pinpoint the cause. For unwanted hair growth, your doctor may prescribe spironolactone, a type of water pill that can slow male-pattern hair growth in women. Other options include laser treatments, waxing, plucking, shaving, or bleaching. For thinning hair, certain prescription medicines can be effective.
Body weight changes.
It’s not unusual to gain weight during menopause, but that’s also related to aging. As we age, lean body mass and metabolism decrease, and we naturally become less active. In response, body fat gets redistributed, with more fat cells moving to the midsection.
What you can do: Strive to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. If you have excess weight, losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can have health benefits like lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure. CentraState has wellness offerings to get you started, including health coaching and dietitian support. Visit centrastate.com/wellness or call 732-308-0570 to learn more.
Menopause can bring some unsettling symptoms, but this natural biological change isn’t all bad. Postmenopausal women no longer have to deal with menstrual cycles and the side effects that come with them – goodbye PMS. It’s also common for women in their 50s and beyond to experience a renewed energy for life. At this point, women know who they are, recognize what they want, and have the confidence to go get it – and there’s nothing more empowering than that.
For more information on Women’s Health at CentraState, visit centrastate.com/womenshealth or call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).