I have caught the crazy bug, or shall I say the “crazy” menopause. I am not kidding. It comes on so insidiously that you don’t even realize you are totally certifiable.
If you or a loved one is on the crazy train, read on.
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Let's Talk Menopause
So WebMD says that menopause is a “normal condition that all women experience as they age.” Basically, they are liars. It does not feel normal to be crazy, have a full beard or sweat when its cold outside.
It does not feel normal to cry hysterically while watching “Das Boot” with subtitles or throw a high heel at Santa in the mall because your grand kid is waiting too long to sit on his lap and go over his list with him.
Nope, doesn’t seem very “normal” to me.
So, we are basically crazy from the ages of 40-60 (ish, because every woman is different) which is a long time to be out there, walking around when you should be in a padded cell.
What is menopause?
Basic anatomy 101 right here. A woman’s eggs shrivel up due to her getting older. Then, she stops her period altogether. Then, all hell breaks loose if it hasn’t already.
See, the ovaries make estrogen and progesterone, and when they die, guess what? We go crazy. It is slow, because your ovaries make less and less estrogen and progesterone over time.
So when those ovaries run out of the good stuff, thats when you start crying hysterically over what cereal to buy, or you just shaved that full beard yesterday, and now its back in full force today.
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Symptoms of Menopause
Well, do you have the weekend for me to list out all of the symptoms? They are many. The biggies are:
- Mood swings - In the extreme. So bad you may think your loved one or friend is actually in need of psychiatric evaluation and intervention.
- Hot flashes - No, not just “could you turn on the fan, please” type of hot flashes. I am talking pouring liquid from sweat glands you thought you never had before. The bed is soaked, and you carry deodorant and a towel in your purse because God only knows when its going to strike.
- Difficulty sleeping - You may just wake up at 3 am for no apparent reason. At all. Remember how your grandma was an early riser? Well, I am pretty sure she just couldn’t get good rest because she was menopausal.
- Vaginal dryness and libido - Men, I am preparing you—during this time a woman is not feeling too sexy and vaginal dryness hurts. She is going to be thinking of her laundry list of things to do while she is having sex if she is having it at all.
- Hair growth in places that are least expected - Cousin It has nothing on the menopausal woman. Chin hair, nose hair, neck and back hair are all places one can get accelerated hair growth. When grandma grows a fu man chu, you know that she is in the throws of menopause, more than likely. Conversely, hair grows slower on the legs and head. Go figure.
- Osteoporosis - This means our bones become more porous and can make us more at risk for fractures. You may see some little old ladies with a hunched back. This may be caused by tiny micro fractures of the spine that leaves it compressed. Biphosphonate therapy (like Fosamax) can help prevent this, and Calcium and Vitamin D supplements help as well.
So just take some hormones, how hard can it be?
Well, I wish it were that easy. HRT, or hormone replacement therapy comes with risks. I can’t take it - my mother, grandmother, and sister all have had breast cancer. Oh, and my grandmother on my fathers side, and my great aunt. Yes, my genome is pretty messed up.
Also, you can have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack if you are taking HRT. A physician evaluation is needed to get basic medical history and family history as well as bloodwork. Each woman is different, and some may not be a candidate for HRT.
So, we suffer.
Not necessarily. There are things like anti-depressants that can help with some of the mood swings and sleep disruption. You may be able to take traditional hormone therapy as prescribed by your physician.
There are bio identical pellets that can be placed in the gluteal area via a needle under the skin, but this is really important to note - bio-identical. Blood tests will have to be run extensively for your hormone profile.
These bio-identical hormones mimic endogenous hormones, so most menopausal side effects abate. The bonus of the pellet is that it is implanted there for 3-6 months and when crazy is off the bus, then you go back and get another implanted.
Synthetic hormones are not bio-identical, hence you still might have side effects just from the HRT you are getting. Watch out TV, she is about to cry and throw a shoe at you...
There are some natural supplements that can help with imbalanced hormones. Maca root is helpful for PMS, menopause and hot flashes... And hey, all you men out there - it also helps with libido. Meow.
I started to research about Maca root on line. My husband asked what I was researching. I told him all of the “supposed” benefits and he had that Maca root powder shipped next day air to the house. I wonder why.
Another natural herbal supplement is ashwagandha I have it in powder form (of course I do, I am sick of hearing how crazy I am) and it tastes like dirt. Not decent dirt, either - like dirt that has been walked on by feet so nasty that you have a dirty-foot taste in your mouth all day long. It does come in a tea form which may be better than my dirt-tasting form.
There is hope. You can try natural supplements like i have started, or get HRT. You can take over-the-counter meds to help with the osteoporosis. You can even get antidepressants to help with the side effects of menopause.
Yes, it affects every woman and subsequently every man that lives with a woman of a certain age, however, it can be mitigated with the above mentioned treatments.
I think every woman is ok with being her own brand of crazy, just not crazy because of menopause.