The perimenopausal years of a woman's life are comprised of a series of changes that take place in the body as she approaches menopause. The body decreases production of estrogen and progesterone during this time in preparation for menopause. This triggers a number of symptoms, including irregular periods and night sweats. It's difficult to cope when experiencing these symptoms, especially as they are reminders that you are nearing the end of your reproductive life. Read on for advice on dealing with these symptoms, both emotionally and physically.
Understand Your Symptoms
The menstrual cycle is driven by estrogen, which thickens the uterus wall lining, and progesterone, which triggers the shedding of this lining when it is diminished. When the body sharply decreases production of these hormones during perimenopause, you'll notice menstrual irregularities occurring, such as several months passing between periods, and heavy bleeding when periods do occur.
In terms of night sweating, the same hormonal imbalances that cause irregular periods can also trigger activity in the body that cause it to detect increased internal temperature and respond to cool down, by producing sweat. This is known as night sweating.
Adapt in Preparation
Part of dealing with symptoms like irregular periods and night sweats is tackling them head-on; acknowledge them and prepare for them practically to minimize their effect on your life. Be sure to always carry plenty sanitary wear (e.g., sanitary towels or tampons) in your handbag so you are never caught unaware by unexpected or particularly heavy bleeding.
To prepare for night sweating, aim to keep a cool, ventilated bedroom with a glass of water next to your bed to maintain a comfortable internal body temperature. Wear loose nightwear in breathable fabrics or sleep naked to enable air to access your skin, keep you cool, and allow sweat to evaporate.
Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
Excessive intake of alcohol, caffeine, and junk food will exacerbate both night sweating and irregular periods; aim to eat a nutritious and balanced diet. You may wish to consider increasing your intake of phytoestrogens - found in nuts, seeds, and soy products - as these contain estrogenic compounds that could help regulate symptoms derived from hormonal imbalance.
Exercise is similarly important to strengthen your body and promote good overall health. Exercising for thirty minutes a day, whether this means walking briskly or attending an aerobics class, will significantly reduce the appearance of bothersome menopause symptoms. However, exercise stimulates a prolonged rise in internal body temperature, so work out during the day to avoid triggering nocturnal sweating.
Keep an Eye on the Symptoms
It can be useful to make a note of when your periods are occurring and how heavy they are so you can keep track of the menopause process. This may also prove helpful if you ever wish to consult with a doctor about any of your menopause symptoms.In terms of night sweats, be aware of the effect sweating may have on your personal hygiene and sleep cycle. Remember to pay particular attention to sweat-prone areas when you wash and use antiperspirant to prevent the occurrence of body odor.
Neither irregular periods nor night sweats are not particularly pleasant experiences. It can be difficult to come to terms with the changes that menopause brings, and there are different ways of coping. What's important is to acknowledge the symptoms you are experiencing, whether it's irregular periods or night sweats, so you can adapt, prepare for, and minimize the effect of menopause symptoms on your personal life.
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Symptoms of the menopause. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Menopause/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Treating irregular periods. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-irregular/Pages/Treatment.aspx