Today on A. Vogel Talks Menopause, I provide the answers to some embarrassing questions.
Menopause can throw some embarrassing symptoms and situations your way and a lot of them are really not spoken about. Women don't want to talk about these things to other people because they are extremely embarrassed or they think that there is something seriously wrong with them.
So, what I am going to do for this week and next week is look at six of the more common, embarrassing questions that I do get asked quite regularly. I'm going to do three this week and three next week.
1. Why do my nipples hurt during menopause?
As well as painful nipples, women also often ask why they are getting breast tenderness, so let's have a look at both of these issues.
For nipple tenderness and pain it is nearly always due to fluctuating oestrogen. When you're approaching menopause, you may still be getting periods and they may be either regular or starting to get irregular. Therefore, the week before a period, you may find that your nipples get so sensitive that you may not be able to bear wearing bras, or having them touched, or being able to wash because they are just so sore.
Sometimes, women tell me they feel that they throb or they sting, and this can last for maybe a week, sometimes even longer.
For breast tenderness as well, again, it tends to be high levels of oestrogen. This can start mid-month and you may find that just as you get to your period, this starts to ease off.
What can help?
First of all, if you are still getting regular periods, if they're still heavy or they may be getting a little bit longer, but you are getting a period every month, as long as you're not on any contraceptive, you could try the herb Agnus castus. This is licensed for PMS symptoms with regular periods.
You may also find applying St. John's Wort oil to the nipples if you can stand it, this can help to ease the pain and the stinging. I have been told by women who've tried it that you may need to apply it three to five times a day and it can take a couple of weeks before it starts to really take effect.
Check your bra. It's amazing how many women end up wearing the wrong size bra. I did for years and I'm embarrassed about it. So, you need to make sure that you get yourself measured regularly because as you approach menopause, the size and shape of your breasts can change quite dramatically.
So, if you were running around with the wrong size bras, especially if you wear underwired ones, then these can affect the circulation around the breasts. And this can contribute to a lot of pain.
If your nipples are sensitive, watch what kind of washing powder that you're using because the chemicals in washing powders and also fabric conditioners can sometimes be enough just to irritate the nipple a lot.
Dehydration. That's a really big factor as well, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
Some women find taking a kelp supplement can be helpful, so it's worth maybe trying out for a month or two to see if that could be of benefit.
The really important thing here though is if you notice any changes to your nipples at all, please do get these checked out by your doctor first before you start on any home remedies.
2. Is it normal to get excessively sweaty in the groin area during menopause?
Yes, this does happen quite a lot too. As you approach menopause and in menopause, your body's temperature regulation can go completely crazy. Your body thinks that you're far too hot and it will make you sweat a lot more or give you a flush.
The problem is, and I have mentioned this before, is that if we are sweaty, we tend to put on a lot of antiperspirants. So, if your body is desperate to regulate its temperature and you have blocked the pores under your arms with antiperspirant, the body is going to find another area to sweat from. And unfortunately, the groin area is a really common one.
The other area where you can start to sweat a lot more is your feet. So, you might find you start to get more sweaty and maybe even more smelly feet, too.
What can help?
The easiest thing to do is to start using deodorants and not antiperspirants. Salt of the Earth have a super range of natural, fragrance-free, and fragranced deodorants that will help to keep you smelling lovely and sweet but will allow you to sweat naturally and very often, which can stop you from sweating from other areas of the body.
If you find that the area becomes a bit more smelly, it could be because you are sitting a lot more at the moment. It can also be caused if you're wearing tights or tight trousers, and you're got pants on as well because you're not getting any air circulating and odour can build up.
You can use the Salt of the Earth non-scented natural deodorant spray for intimate areas if you need some kind of control like that.
Remember the water because if you are sweating a lot more, you will get more dehydrated and that can make any kind of odour stronger.
And also, just make sure you're wearing cotton underwear and that you're not kind of smothering that area with too many layers of clothes.
3. Do you still need to practice safe sex in the menopause?
It's amazing how many women come to me and say, "I haven't had any periods for three months. Can I stop using contraceptives?" And the answer is no.
Now, some sources say you are safe from pregnancy after one year without periods but in our experience, a lot of women get periods back after that point, so we tend to say that you are more than likely safe from pregnancy after two years without a period.
So, it's really important, up to that point, to take whatever precautions you normally do to avoid pregnancy. The rate of peri-menopause babies seems to be increasing because a lot of women just don't realise how easy it is to still get pregnant, even if you're not getting periods.
The other really important thing is that sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) are also on the increase in the perimenopause and menopause age group. So, if you are not in a monogamous relationship, it's really important to practice safe sex all the time, regardless if you've periods have stopped or not. Condoms provide the best protection from STIs.
I hope you found these three helpful.
Key points to take away from this blog:
- Nipple pain and breast tenderness are both common during peri-menopause and menopause, mainly due to falling oestrogen. However, poor-fitting bras can also contribute to the problem due to breast shape and size changes.
- The groin area can become sweatier during menopause, especially if you are blocking your underarms with antiperspirants. Natural deodorants, which allow the body to sweat naturally without the smell, are a better option to use.
- It is important to practice safe sex during menopause. I advise women that they are likely safe from pregnancy after two years without a period, instead of one, because some women find that their periods can come back. Also, safe sex should still be practiced if in a non-monogamous relationship to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
Until next week, take care