Well, it finally happened. You reached menopause. With your child-rearing years behind you, you are greeted with periods of hot flashes and mood swings.
What is Menopause?
According to your Houston doctor, menopause typically occurs when a woman is in her late 40s to early 50s and marks the end of her reproductive years. It occurs when her ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone and she stops menstruating.
When your body no longer has estrogen and progesterone, it is common to experience hot flashes and sweating. Hot flashes, for anyone who moved out of the house before their mother started this journey, are a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the body. Ever walked into a woman’s office in the dead of winter to find the AC on or the window open?
Hot flashes typically last for about five years. They are quite common; nearly 85 percent of women experience them. As you would expect, hot flashes can come on at any time, even when you are trying to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation approximates that 61 percent of menopausal women have problems sleeping.
How is Menopause Treated?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most common treatment for hot flashes. Estrogen is given in a pill, patch or cream with or without progesterone. Unfortunately, a large study by the Women’s Health Initiative found that long-term use of an estrogen-progesterone combination therapy puts women at an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke.
While estrogen-only treatments were not found to increase the chance of developing breast cancer or heart disease, researchers did find that they increase the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Other medications such as antidepressants, anti-seizure and blood pressure medications have been shown to be effective at treating menopausal symptoms.
Lifestyle Changes Can Help
Your Houston physician has put together a few tips that can help women in the middle of menopause get a better night’s sleep without the need for medications:
- Wear loose clothing to bed
- Keep the bedroom cool and well-ventilated
- Avoid spicy foods before bed
- Maintain a regular bedtime schedule
- Exercise regularly, but not right before you go to sleep
- Avoid excess caffeine
- Avoid napping during the day
- Empty your bladder before bed
- Eat soy products, such as tofu and soybeans
For more information on how to improve your sleep, contact your Houston physician today.