Say it isn’t so! If the thought of PMS and menopause wasn’t scary enough, there is an addendum that is sure to bring shivers down the spine. Brace yourself for Postmenopausal Syndrome.
You probably get the drift: it refers to a condition where women experience persistent, long-term symptoms typically associated with regular menopause. The dreaded hot flashes, insomnia, and brain fog (not to mention sexual changes including vaginal dryness and loss of libido) are just some of the menopausal symptoms that can carry over into Postmenopausal Syndrome.
Doctors believe part of the reason for this extended syndrome is widespread usage of hormone drugs.
When women begin entering that erratic, hormonal phase of life, many of them will go on HRT, or hormone replacement therapy. They use supplements to make up for waning hormones and buffer the severity of menopause. Most times within ten years the hard stuff is passed; but as women come off HRT, some are surprised to find their menopausal systems had merely ‘paused.’ And once the drugs stop, they come roaring back to life.
In common-speak, doctors are calling this postmenopausal syndrome, and they think it impacts about 10% of women — mostly women late in life who thought menopause was over and done with for good.
The perplexing point for doctors is trying to determine who, if anyone, is at a greater risk of going into extended menopause. Some women sail through the change quickly with relatively few side effects, while others suffer a long, long time. The difference-maker it seems is our individual body chemistry. Looking at how much fat we store and the levels of another hormone, called DHEA, that we produce.
The Mayo Clinic explains that DHEA is a hormone that comes from the adrenal gland, and it helps produce other hormones, like testosterone and estrogen. Natural DHEA levels peak in early adulthood and then slowly fall as you age. So the lower the DHEA, the more likely we are to experience symptoms that typically come with lowered hormones.
The next logical questions are: why is the DHEA dropping, and is there something we can do to stop the free-fall into menopausal misery? Turns out, lifestyle can be a difference-maker, with good habits possibly minimizing the risk of long-term menopause. At the same time, stress and anxiety may increase risk.
First, let’s look at lifestyle. It’s all stuff you’ve heard before. The building blocks of good overall heath, as in exercise and diet. Beginning with resistance training that raises female testosterone levels naturally. When you think of resistance training, it really comes down to weights, resistance bands or anything that works out muscle. Couple that with a healthy diet, like the anti-inflammatory diet, which is high in leafy vegetables, nuts, and fish, and low in carbs. Together these may keep DHEA levels high enough to avoid symptoms which are associated with age.
Approaching it ‘naturally’ is a great option for many older women especially ones who are hesitant to stay on HRT for an extended period. Supplement hormones are used cautiously if someone has had cancer or who has been using HRT for many years, because it can carry a heightened cancer risk.
The takeaway is to reorient you mind and get your head around the fact that menopause is not always a passing phase, but can be a constant condition for many years. But making some smart choices may help the time pass quickly, with less pain.
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