Most women associate menopause with the end of menstruation and the beginning of hot flashes. However, they may not anticipate all of the other related side effects, including brain fog, depression, acne, joint pain, mood swings, night sweats, insomnia, dry skin, reduced sex drive, hair loss, and more. . For many of the 55 million menopausal women in the United States (or the estimated 1.3 million who will join them this year), these symptoms take them by surprise.
“Only about 20 percent of doctors are trained in menopause treatments,” he says. kourtney simsan OB/GYN in Houston, who adds that most medical schools and OB/GYN residencies spend minimal time focusing on this part of a woman’s life.
And if doctors are not adequately educated about the symptoms and management of menopause, how can they help patients overcome them? Another reason women have historically been ill-prepared: Nobody talks about it. What happens at the start of menstruation is covered in high school health class, but women don’t get an introduction to what to expect at the end. And then shame, fear, and confusion keep many from broaching the subject with their doctors or sharing their concerns with friends or family.
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Fortunately, however, things seem to be changing. As Gen Xers and older Millennials grapple with their fluctuating hormones, they are taking a more open and active approach to their treatment. “Me [menopausal] patients are incredibly thirsty for knowledge,” he says. alyssa dweckan obstetrician-gynecologist in Mount Kisco, New York.
He often suggests small adjustments to his patients’ daily habits to help them cope, such as adopting a low-glycemic Mediterranean diet to moderate weight gain or increasing cardiovascular exercise to moderate mood swings. “Many patients are confused because they still have periods but are experiencing unknown symptoms such as mood swings. They don’t recognize themselves,” she says. “Explaining what’s going on helps.”
So what is going on? “Your body is breaking down hormone levels that it has had for 30 years or more,” says Sims. “No wonder he’s upset.” The hormonal roller coaster usually begins between a woman’s 30s and 40s (although it can start earlier), and can last up to 15 years.
When women say they are going through menopause, that usually means they are experiencing perimenopause. During this stage, estrogen and progesterone begin to decline, ovulation can become erratic, and periods can stop coming like clockwork. This is also when the cascade of symptoms described above can begin. “I had no idea brain fog had anything to do with menopause,” recalls Rochelle Weitzner, founder of the menopause skincare brand. Pause Well-Aging. “I was wondering if I had early-onset Alzheimer’s.”
To help monitor perimenopausal symptoms, some women have begun experimenting with home tests to check their levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones associated with transition. These kits typically require saliva or a blood sample via a finger prick, then tested at home or mailed to a lab. One to try: Everlywell Perimenopause Test ($99 for a one-time purchase).
“Menopause itself is really just one day: the day you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without a period,” explains Weitzner. After that, you’re postmenopausal, though unfortunately not symptom-free.
While your hormones won’t swing like they did in perimenopause, your body now has to function with sustained lower levels of estrogen and progesterone. This means that some symptoms, such as dry skin or thinning hair, become chronic problems. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help relieve symptoms by increasing estrogen levels through a pill, patch, or topical cream, but HRT is not without risks, including increased chance of certain types of cancer.
So it’s encouraging that it’s not the only option. A growing number of beauty and wellness brands have developed products and tools to help manage the menopause journey. “Women are looking for some power and ownership in this conversation,” says Sims. Here’s what some new over-the-counter options offer.
quench thirsty skin
The decline in estrogen impairs the body’s ability to hydrate the skin and retain moisture, causing many menopausal women to lament their chronically parched complexions. Bonafide Silvessa Hydrating Daily Skin Serum ($55) is blended with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, which attract and lock in moisture, and vitamin B3 (also known as niacinamide), which strengthens the skin’s barrier.
fill it up
As estrogen and progesterone levels decline, testosterone (often considered the “male” hormone) gains influence on hair growth, causing strands to become sparser and reduce in diameter. The result: hair looks and feels brittle and falls out faster. To help, Better Not Younger Lift Me Up Hair Thickener ($35) wraps each strand for an instantly fuller look. The spray styler also nourishes the scalp and promotes healthier future growth; Plus, add volume at the roots so thin spots are less apparent.
take a ride
Decreased estrogen levels can accelerate the breakdown of collagen in women’s skin, resulting in a loss of elasticity. Massaging your face with the Pause Well-Aging Fascia Stimulating Tool ($115), an FDA-approved device designed to stimulate collagen-producing fibroblasts, can help keep skin firmer longer.
Soothe sore joints
Estrogen is a natural anti-inflammatory, and when we start to produce less of it, joints can get stiff and sore. State of Menopause Arnica Hand & Joint Cream ($28) does double duty by soothing dry skin with shea, coconut, and cocoa bean butters and easing joint pain and stiffness with anti-inflammatory arnica extract.
Hot flashes and night sweats are thought to be triggered by fluctuating hormones that cause blood vessels to suddenly expand, increasing blood flow and sending a wave of heat through the body. One instant remedy is Mojo Wellbeing Hot Flash Quick Cooling Spray ($25), a liquid mist formulated with niacinamide, glycerin, and witch hazel to soothe and reduce heat on reddened skin. Spraying it on pulse points can speed up the cooldown.
Estrogen is often linked to reproductive health, but did you know it also plays a role in regulating brain function? As estrogen declines, the body connects it less to its hormone receptors, causing temporary cognitive disruption (or brain fog). Supplements like Phenology Great Morning Gummies (part of Essential Relief set, $80) can provide some relief by increasing the body’s levels of nutrients, such as vitamins B6 and B12, which support brain health, and saffron extract , which can help improve mood and sleep .
repair down there
Your face isn’t the only place that gets dry with the loss of estrogen. The vaginal walls can also lose lubrication and become thinner, leaving this area vulnerable to chafing and discomfort during intercourse. Stripes Vag of Honor Ectoine Hydrating & Revitalizing Gel ($50) uses two humectants, hyaluronic acid and glycogen, to help maintain the vagina’s natural lubrication, as well as ectoin, an emollient that increases the skin’s moisture level and locks it in. . For best results, the gel should be applied daily, as you would any moisturizing face care product.