I covered how periods can change in the menopause in Part 1 but there’s more…
Your periods can change in colour, consistency and smell and this is usually normal, especially if they are not as regular as they were. Clots are also very common at this time. Some women experience really heavy periods but… you should not be bleeding for weeks on end! Frequent, heavy or really long periods can cause anaemia, which in turn can cause low mood, fatigue, poor sleep, dry skin, flaky nails and thinning hair. If this is you, please go to your doctor and don’t let them tell you it’s ok: it’s not. If you were bleeding from any other part of your body for this long it would be considered an emergency!
Some women experience period pains every month when their periods are due but don’t actually go on to have one. Although your hormones are falling there is still a monthly cycle, not high enough to trigger a bleed but still high enough to give all those horrible PMS-like symptoms. Cramping can often be helped with a magnesium supplement (I know I keep mentioning magnesium but it is worth its weight in gold in the menopause and can help with so many things!). A fermented soya supplement may also be beneficial to gently support oestrogen levels.
If your periods are a bit more frequent, taking an iron tonic is a good idea. Some women find the herb Agnus castus helpful in lengthening the monthly cycle to a month rather than a couple of weeks. However, if you have any worries about your periods, are passing big clots or are experiencing a lot of pain, do consult your doctor.
Low mood, mood swings, irritability, not feeling like yourself and feeling weepy are often experienced during the menopause. The main reason for this is falling oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is known to have a beneficial effect on mood so once it starts to drop or fluctuate it can play havoc with your emotions. Oestrogen-balancing supplements such as fermented soya can help to gently raise oestrogen, which in turn can reduce symptoms. A good female multivitamin and mineral supplement with plenty of B Vits and magnesium can often help here as well. Research has shown that daily relaxation/meditation can reduce symptoms really quickly. Me-time is so, so, so important in the menopause. Make 30 minutes a day relaxation a priority; and for all those of you who say ‘I don’t have the time’, you are the ones who need it the most!
Falling levels of oestrogen can have a huge impact on the breasts in more ways than one. Many women can experience breast tenderness, soreness or discomfort, some even getting sore nipples as well. This can often be helped with a kelp supplement and a daily cup or two of nettle tea or liver supporting herbs. Dehydration and constipation can be contributory factors so make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and that your bowels are moving every day.
Breast size and firmness also changes so it is really important to get yourself measured regularly. A poorly fitting bra can actually cause discomfort and neck and shoulder pain. Most of the big stores have a free fitting service so it is worth paying them a visit. I had been putting this off for ages and when I finally did get it done I was horrified at just how way out I was with my measurements – but it was a good excuse to buy some new pretty bras!
Although these are all common symptoms in the menopause it is very important to get any breast changes checked by your doctor as well. Any discharge from the nipples must be checked too.
See my next blog for tips on vagina dryness and pain, coming off HRT and whether you can still have a menopause if you have had a hysterectomy.