Yvette Ortego will be 47 this year, and she tells her patients all the time, “I feel your pain.” But, she also knows this: menopause and perimenopause, that phase right before it begins, do not have to be as bad as they first seem if you take steps to help your body.
As a nurse practitioner, Yvette often sees patients who are approaching menopause and suffering through it.
“Women are so relieved to know there’s an explanation for their symptoms,” said Yvette. “We have to start talking about menopause more often because there are absolutely things you can do to improve your quality of life.”
Yvette says that the changes women go through are individual and personal. Everyone will experience menopause differently.
What are women in their 40s asking Yvette about most often? Sex, mood, weight gain, and pain. The great news is that she has great advice in every category. Here are the five ways you can bring yourself into balance when you’re approaching menopause, plus what you can do if you’re not experiencing any symptoms at all yet.
Try Primrose Oil
I often recommend primrose oil for breast tenderness. It’s been known to help during your period of when you’re perimenopausal and you get peaks and valleys of estrogen. It also helps with cramps.
Don’t Accept Painful Sex as the New Norm
Not wanting to have sex isn’t something women want to admit to. Sometimes it’s low sex drive, and other times it’s pain. Many women are forgetting to use lubrication. I just tell them to try it – it helps.
Tone Vaginal Muscles
There are a lot of options for replenishing the vaginal lining, and for many women it’s worth it because better elasticity helps with urinary incontinence, which happens with the vaginal area gets weak. It’s especially common after hysterectomy because the bladder moves down. Kegels help with bladder health as you get older too.
You can also add estrogen through a vaginal tablet to strengthen the vaginal wall. Because it’s not absorbed like a pill or patch, there’s lower risk of blood clots and cancer.
Keep Fighting Weight Gain
This is a tough one, and one most women in their 40s complain about. It’s harder than it used to be to lose weight. I recommend watching calories, not cutting out food groups altogether. Everything we eat has a purpose. This is also when we start to have joint pain, so pilates and strength training are great ways to exercise and reduce impact on your joints.
Don’t Be Silent About Mood Swings and Relationships.
Many women wish they brought up their relationships sooner at the doctor’s office. Between decreased sex drive and mood swings that may leave you crying for no reason, marriages can be strained.
What many women don’t know is that these are symptoms. Foggy thinking, forgetfulness and anger are related to the change of life. They’re not you.
Some women opt for hormone replacement therapy, but if you’re looking for natural solutions, black cohosh is a supplement that can help. It takes 6 weeks to take effect, but many women swear by it. There is also St. John’s wort for mood swings, and you can eat more soy product because it’s a source of plant-based estrogen that can bring you into balance. Antidepressants can help as well.
What if you’re not perimenopausal… yet?
Here’s the great news if you’re not already experiencing these symptoms. You can help your body become more resilient now in order to limit these effects. Healthy diet and exercise is key.
The food we eat tells our body what to do. Don’t eat a lot of boxed or heavily processed foods. shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and eat fresh foods and antibiotic-free meats. These steps can help make the symptoms of menopause less intense.