During a woman’s middle years, her reproductive cycle begins to wane as ovaries gradually stop producing eggs for potential fertilization. Behind this decline in the monthly menses is a hormonal drive that fluctuates over a span of several years. Loss of libido increased anxiety, and bouts of depression in the ’40s and early ’50s may signal the onset of menopause.
While some women experience few symptoms that impact their daily schedules, others report extreme fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. Dry skin, hair, and nails are other annoyances. All of these stem from hormonal changes as the reproductive cycle comes to an end.
There is help for women who struggle with bothersome symptoms. Here are a few suggestions:
- Ask the doctor. Make an appointment for a comprehensive examination, especially if you have not had one in a year or two. Medical tests can reveal if there are contributing underlying causes, such as thyroid problems or diabetes. Your physician can provide information about natural and prescription treatments for your symptoms. Be sure to ask if he or she doesn’t offer this information initially.
- Talk it out. Find a trustworthy friend or confidante with whom you can discuss the symptoms that have surfaced. Older women, especially, may be able to offer nuggets of wisdom based on experience. Simply venting about stressful subjects helps someone feel better, so take advantage of this free option.
- Join a support group. Women’s groups flourish in community circles, places of worship, job sites, and other locales. Ask friends, coworkers, and family members to recommend a women’s group that might welcome another member. If you are unable to find one locally, start one of your own. Post fliers in public places or community newsletters to incite interest and let women know where and when you will meet. Public libraries or worship centers may furnish a meeting room at low or no cost.
- Take a multivitamin. With your doctor’s consent, start popping a daily vitamin to supplement your nutritional intake. Find out if you should look for a brand with minerals like iron or extra vitamin C. There are a host of selections available, so shop wisely for one that meets your specific needs.
- Eat wisely. Follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation of a food pyramid that maximizes fruits and veggies while downplaying the role of meat in a daily diet. Vegetarians need to be sure they are getting adequate protein. Vitamin deficiencies can aggravate midlife symptoms and seriously compromise your health over time.
- Exercise frequently. Physical activity releases endorphins that make the body feel naturally good. Exercise can strengthen muscles, help posture, reduce excess weight, and increase stamina. With your doctor’s permission, start with a gentle routine like twenty minutes of walking three times a week, and build from there. Exercise helps to regulate hormonal fluctuations, and some women report that it works better than hormone replacement therapy (ERT).