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When I used to think of menopause, I pictured much older women with hot flashes fanning themselves. I knew that menopause occurs when women stop having their periods, but that was about the extent that I knew about menopause and menopause treatment.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31, one of the things we had to discuss was an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). Since I have the BRCA1 gene mutation, I have a higher risk of getting both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. At 31, I wasn’t ready to remove my ovaries for several reasons. One of which was that I thought I was too young to go through menopause.
Fast forward a few years, I eventually had my oophorectomy because the older I got, the higher my ovarian cancer risk. Ovarian cancer is difficult to catch in the early stages, so on the recommendation of my doctors and after lots of research, I had an oophorectomy in the fall of 2018.
Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause
Before having my ovaries removed, I read a lot and asked questions. I wanted to know all about the effects of going into menopause at a younger age than most women. Little did I know, I was already experiencing some symptoms of perimenopause, the menopause transition that actually starts years before menopause. During this time, the ovaries are slowly producing less estrogen. Some women begin perimenopause in their 30s.
According to the North American Menopause Society, common symptoms of perimenopause are irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, and mood swings. All of these are the results of the decreasing hormones.
Menopause, on the other hand, is the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and menstruation stops. Typically, this happens between the ages of 40-58 years old.
In comparison to perimenopause, the common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, vaginal atrophy (the drying and thinning of vaginal tissues), sleep disturbances, mood swings, and night sweats. You can see that there are common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
That doesn’t sound like much fun, right? I know I really was not looking forward to going into menopause, but luckily, there are things to help with these perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
Relief for Perimenopause and Menopause Symptoms
Help with Dryness
One of the most painful symptoms of perimenopause and menopause is the vaginal dryness and thinning of tissues. It can cause tightness, pain, and burning. The Mayo Clinic recommends estrogen therapy, but many women cannot or do not want to take estrogen. For example, for many breast cancer survivors, doctors do not recommend estrogen treatments due to the increased risk of a cancer recurrence.
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For those that do not want to use estrogen therapy, the Mayo Clinic also recommends moisturizers and lubricants that restore some moisture. One of these types of products is Revaree®. It’s a hormone-free insert that renews your body’s moisture and provides relief from vaginal dryness. The main ingredient in it is Hyaluronic Acid.
With Revaree, you don’t have to use an applicator, so there’s no mess and no stress. In addition, more than 1,100 doctors recommend Revaree to help rejuvenate tissues and replenish moisture, and 84% of women said it improved vaginal dryness.1
Relief from Hot Flashes
WebMD has a whole page devoted to hot flashes, why they happen, and the treatment and prevention of hot flashes. The bad news is that there is nothing you can do to avoid hot flashes, but you can stay away from triggers. Some of the triggers that make hot flashes more frequent or severe are caffeine, alcohol, stress, spicy foods, smoking, tight clothing, and heat.
There are also cooling pillows, personal fans, and loose-fitting clothing options to help with these triggers.
Tips for Better Sleep During Menopause
The National Sleep Foundation says that 61% of post-menopausal women report insomnia symptoms. The foundation recommends avoiding large meals, especially before bedtime and minimizing foods and behaviors that can cause hot flashes. It’s important to reduce stress as much as possible through relaxation techniques, massage, exercise, and speaking to a mental health professional.
For more sleep tips, Everyday Health says sticking to the same sleep schedule every night is important. It also helps to get 30 minutes of sunshine each day. Additionally, you can check out Relizen®, which provides powerful, hormone-free relief to women experiencing menopausal hot flashes and night sweats, so they can stay cool and dry all day and night. Relizen contains a plant-based ingredient – Exclusive Bonafide pollen – that balances your body’s temperature, keeping you cool and dry at every moment.
With Relizen®, 75% of women experienced less frequent, less intense hot flashes and 68% of women experienced less frequent, less intense night sweats.2
Even though perimenopause and menopause symptoms can be unpleasant, it is comforting to know there are so many helpful options available. After reading these tips to help with hot flashes, dryness, and sleep disturbance, you will hopefully have a better transition to and through menopause.
¹ Chen J, et al. J Sex Med. 2013;10:1575-1584.
² Survey data. Goldstein SR, Veledar E, Perez Ojalvo S, et al. Menopause. 2017;24:14:1455
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Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.