Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Healthy Habits: Feeling hormonal? Don't let it ruin the holidays!

Are you suffering from silent night sweats? Feeling sudden ho ho hot flashes? The holidays are a stressful time for anyone, but they can take a particular emotional toll on some women actively in menopause or perimenopause (the time before menopause). Menopause can begin as early as age 35, so whether you're a hip thirty-something mom or a hip sixty-something grandma, if you're one of the unlucky women who experience unpleasant menopause symptoms, they can really mess with your best-laid holiday plans.

The good news is while the symptoms of menopause are rooted in physical imbalance, there's a lot that you can do mentally to take back control and make sure the holidays are filled with happy memories, instead of unnecessary suffering!

Your first step in coping with menopause during the holidays is to ensure you have a definitive diagnosis. Menopause shares some symptoms with other medical conditions – including pregnancy – so it's really important that you talk to your health care provider as quickly as possible about what you're experiencing. Some common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause include:
Changes in menstrual cycle or flow
Difficulty concentrating
Night sweats
Hot flashes

If you want a good starting point for discussing menopause with your practitioner, you can take the Menopause Center of Minnesota's online quiz to see if you may be suffering symptoms of perimenopause or menopause.

100% sure you're going through menopause? Here's how you can handle your hormones and the holidays:

Step 1: Don't despair! When menopause begins, women often feel lonely or sad. You don't have to feel either! Menopause can be a time of total freedom for women, even if the transition is a little rocky. The good news is there are treatments like bioidentical hormone therapy that can alleviate any uncomfortable symptoms you're experiencing – so that's one less thing to worry about. As for how you feel about menopause, it's all about your perception and your attitude. And those are two things that are totally in your control. So choose to believe that you're going to be just fine. Approach it with a good sense of humor. Realize that you're entering into a time of life that is deeply freeing. (Can you say “no more periods”? Hallelujah!) And also realize you are not alone. Which brings me to...

Step 2: Don't go it alone! Since the kneejerk reaction to menopause is often to feel alone, you might be tempted to pull away from your support network, like family and friends. What you really need to do is exactly the opposite. You need to expand your support network and rely on them more. Nobody is going to hate you because you're going through “the change.” And if you really aren't comfortable talking about menopause with your loved ones, consider shared medical appointments for your menopause care. So...

Step 3: Share lots!  HYPERLINK ""Shared medical appointments are revolutionizing how patients receive medical care. Menopause care is especially well suited to this appointment model. In a shared appointment, you get to have one-on-one time with your practitioner, and you also get to participate in a group session with other menopausal women. The session is both fun and informative. You can get things off your chest, you can laugh and you can learn. Most of all you can make new friends and feel secure in the knowledge that they will never judge you, because they're going through it all, too!

Step 4: Learn how to let go. It's okay if you can't do everything like Martha Stewart this holiday season. (Martha Stewart doesn't even do everything like Martha Stewart. She's got helpers – just like Santa.) Set reasonable goals and if you find yourself falling short just let it go. The holidays are about happiness, and if you're stressing out then you're not focusing on what truly matters.

Step 5: Take it easy on yourself. Even though menopause isn't a big bad monster, it's still a pretty big deal. You'll be going through a lot of physical and emotional changes, and while you should look at them all optimistically, it's also alright to have a day when you feel rotten or have totally misplaced your cheer. The best way to get back on track is to learn to relax and treat yourself well. Go for a walk. Take up a fun new hobby. Enjoy more bubble baths. Learn yoga. Try meditation. Breathe, breathe, breathe!

If menopause is stealing your holiday spirit, take it back! By following these steps and the advice of your health care provider, you'll be able to handle anything the holidays – and menopause – throw at you.

The Menopause Center of Minnesota was founded to help women ages 35 and older cope with issues and symptoms of perimenopause/menopause. The Menopause Center has two locations in Saint Paul and Shakopee, MN. For more information visit

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