Because most women work full-time as well as manage the home these days, and the symptoms aren’t limited to nighttime or weekends, menopause is probably more public than ever in the past. We can help you manage those hot flashes and other symptoms that can disrupt an afternoon meeting or make it hard to focus on the report that’s due tomorrow.
If you’re female, you’ve probably been hearing about menopause and its symptoms since … well, maybe since your first period.
You may have even heard whispers of your great-grandmother going off the rails during her “change” and taking off on a spontaneous cruise around the world while great-grandpa stayed home and learned how to do his own laundry.
And now it’s your turn.
The truth is, the symptoms you may dread don’t occur with menopause. They’re part of the perimenopausal phase that leads up to the “ceasing of menstruation,” which is the dictionary definition of menopause.
Many women breeze through perimenopause with only a hot flash here and there and an often-welcome decline in the frequency of their periods. Others, however, have significant symptoms that worsen as menopause draws nearer, on average at age 51.
Perimenopausal symptoms that may interfere with work include:
- Hot flashes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Problems concentrating
- Unexpected urinary leakage (urinary incontinence)
- Mood swings
The good news is that although these symptoms are sometimes maddening and difficult to deal with, they won’t last forever. We can help you manage without signing up for a runaway cruise around the world. Unless, of course, you want to take a luxury voyage to celebrate this new and often freeing phase of the feminine adventure.
Ways to tame perimenopausal symptoms at work
There are many steps you can take to help manage your symptoms. Taking care of yourself with a nutritious diet, physical exercise, and participating in activities you enjoy support both your emotional and physical well being, which also benefits your work experience. We can also help with medication when necessary.
Practical steps for managing menopause on the job include:
1. Hot flashes
Hot flashes are the most frequently reported symptom during perimenopause and are often triggered by factors in your environment and diet, including:
- Spicy foods
- Hot beverages
- A warm room
Try identifying your triggers so you can avoid them whenever possible. Otherwise, prepare in advance by dressing in layers, having a cold glass of water nearby, or placing a small fan on your desk to use at the first signs of a hot flash.
You can also try yoga, tai chi, or meditation to relax. Relaxation can’t stop a hot flash, but it may help relieve the stress triggering your symptoms.
Hormone therapy is often quite effective for hot flashes. We typically prescribe an estrogen and progestin combination, which we use short-term and monitor carefully due to potential increased risks of breast cancer noted with long-term hormone replacement.
If you aren’t a candidate for hormone therapy, antidepressants that are in the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help decrease the frequency and intensity of your hot flashes. This medication may also help with mood swings, anxiety, and depression some women experience.
2. Difficulty sleeping
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is another common symptom of menopause. Lack of sleep can interfere greatly with your ability to concentrate at work, impact your physical health, and make you grumpy enough to snap at coworkers.
To improve your sleep:
- Establish a regular bedtime, even on the weekends
- Exercise in the morning or early evening, since strenuous exercise too near bedtime can keep you awake
- Avoid heavy meals too close to bedtime, but try a glass of milk or peanut butter on toast as a light snack since both contain tryptophan, which helps your body relax.
- Keep your bedroom dark and quiet to encourage sleep
- Get ready for night sweats, which are caused by hot flashes while you sleep, by dressing in lightweight pajamas, keeping your bedroom cool, and making your bed in layers that you can remove as necessary
- Use relaxation techniques to switch your body and brain into sleep mode
3. Urinary incontinence
Unexpected urinary leakage is never a good thing, but it can become especially troublesome at work. Estrogen helps keep your bladder healthy and your pelvic muscles functioning properly. When your estrogen levels decline during perimenopause and menopause, your pelvic muscles can weaken enough to cause urinary leakage.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, we may recommend:
- Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
- Pads to prevent urine leaking through to your clothing
- Hormone replacement therapy
- A pessary device inserted into your vagina to help support your urethra and reduce leakage
For further help with your journey to menopause, call today or book your visit online.