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Embracing Menopause: Nurturing Your Vulva and Mental Health

Menopause marks a significant and transformative stage in a woman's life. While it brings about various physical changes like weight gain, hot flashes, and genitourinary alterations, it's essential not to overlook the emotional and psychological aspects of this journey. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the key points of menopause, exploring vulva care and mental health during this transformative period.


1. Menopause and Weight Gain: Managing Your Body Changes

Menopause can trigger weight gain due to various factors, including shifts in body shape, gut microbiome, fat and sugar metabolism, reduced exercise, and disrupted sleep. With declining estrogen and progesterone levels and natural aging, your body undergoes metabolic changes that lead to muscle loss and fat accumulation.


Preventing Menopause Weight Gain:

Stay Active: Regular physical activity, combining aerobic exercise and strength training, is essential for preventing weight gain. Building muscle enhances calorie burning and helps maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 150 to 200 minutes of brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week, complemented by strength training sessions at least twice a week. Engage in activities you enjoy, like gardening or yoga, to boost physical activity and improve sleep quality.


Mindful Eating: To maintain your weight during menopause, consider consuming about 200 fewer calories per day than in your 30s and 40s. For weight loss, further reduce calorie intake. Prioritize whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, especially those rich in fiber. Embrace a plant-based diet with legumes, nuts, soy, fish, and low-fat dairy, and limit meat consumption, favoring fish and seafood over red meat. Choose healthier oils over traditional fats like butter and margarine.


Limit Added Sugars: Keep an eye on your sugar intake, as added sugars can contribute nearly 300 extra daily calories. Sugary beverages and foods like soft drinks, sweets, and pastries are common culprits.


Moderate Alcohol: Alcohol adds extra calories and raises the risk of weight gain, so

consume it in moderation.


Seek Support: Surround yourself with a supportive community of friends and loved ones who encourage healthy eating and increased physical activity. Consider teaming up with others to make lifestyle changes together.



2. Managing Hot Flashes: Staying Comfortable During Menopause

Hot flashes can be disruptive, but there are various effective treatment options available. It's essential to discuss these options with your physician to find the most suitable approach for your specific needs. We can explore a few strategies and lifestyle changes that can help you remain cool and in control while navigating through menopause.


Key Points:

1. Dress in Layers: Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics and embrace layering to manage hot flashes effectively. Layered clothing allows you to easily adapt to your body's changing temperature. Start with a light base layer and add or remove clothing as needed to stay comfortable.


2. Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for managing hot flashes. Drink ample water throughout the day to help regulate your body temperature and reduce the intensity of hotflashes. Be cautious of caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration and trigger hot flashes.


3. Mindful Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate hot flashes. Engage in stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to maintain a sense of calm and reduce both the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Incorporating regular exercise and relaxation practices can also enhance your overall well-being during menopause.



3. Hormone Replacement Therapy: A Choice to Consider

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a topic that sparks debates and discussions. Now, we aren't an authority on Hormonal Replacement Therapy, its benefits, risks, and alternative options. This is a serious discussion to have with your physician if you consider this to be a choice. Your menopausal journey is one of the most important self-care matters you will make for yourself.




4. Genitourinary Changes and Vulva Care: A Gentle Approach

Menopause can bring about genitourinary changes, affecting your vulva and intimate well-being. These changes are collectively referred to as the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM). GSM encompasses various menopausal symptoms and signs, including genital symptoms like dryness, burning, and irritation, sexual symptoms such as lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain, and impaired function, and urinary symptoms like urgency, dysuria, and recurrent urinary tract infections.


The terms "vulvovaginal atrophy" and "atrophic vaginitis," which were previously used, had limitations as they did not cover the full spectrum of symptoms and did not directly imply the connection between these symptoms and decreased estrogen levels in menopause.


Because GSM can significantly impact the quality of life for postmenopausal women, it's crucial for women to be aware of these challenges and seek appropriate, effective therapies. Here are a few tips on how to care for your vulva during this transitional period, ensuring you feel in control and confident.


Firstly, we were today years old to learn that the vagina is self-cleaning. Did you know? Throughout the history of womankind, washing the vulva with water and unscented soap in the bath or shower was the best thing ever!. In the last century the market has been flooded with scented and chemically

inclined products which have caused irritation.



To establish a foundation for embracing vulva care, it's essential to begin with a clear understanding. It's crucial to recognize that the vulva and the vagina are distinct and not interchangeable. The vulva encompasses all the external genital structures, while the vagina serves as the internal passageway connecting the uterus to the outside world, often referred to as the birth canal.



5. Rediscovering Intimacy: Reigniting the Flame, and Iris is Her Name!

During menopause, a decrease in libido is a common concern, often accompanied by issues like painful sex (dyspareunia), vaginal dryness, vaginismus, or difficulty reaching orgasm. These challenges can create anxiety surrounding sex and contribute to a decline in sexual desire. However, there are ways to rekindle the flame and enhance your overall well-being:


1. Open Communication: Start by having an open and honest conversation with your partner about your feelings and concerns. Communication is key to understanding each other's needs and desires. Discuss how these changes are affecting your intimacy and work together to find solutions.


2. Consult a Healthcare Professional: If physical symptoms like vaginal dryness or pain are impeding your enjoyment of intimacy, don't hesitate to discuss these issues with your doctor. They can provide guidance on suitable treatments or therapies to address these concerns, which can significantly improve your comfort and desire.




6. Sleep Issues: Nurturing Your Rest

Sleep problems are often associated with menopause, affecting your mood and quality of life. In this section, we'll share insights on addressing sleep issues and offer guidance on achieving restful nights, so you wake up refreshed and ready to face each day.


Additional Suggestions for Achieving Restful Nights:

1. Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity but avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime. Exercise can promote better sleep, but it's essential to time it correctly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days but finish your workout a few hours before going to bed to allow your body to wind down.


2. Mindful Use of Technology: Limit screen time before bedtime. The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers can interfere with your sleep patterns. Aim to disconnect from electronic devices at least an hour before bed to help your mind relax and prepare for restful sleep. Consider engaging in calming activities such as reading a physical book or practicing relaxation exercises instead.



7. Nurturing Your Mental Health: Balancing Mood Swings during Menopause

Menopause encompasses not just physical changes but also significant emotional and

psychological shifts. As fluctuating hormones have a considerable impact on mood during this life transition, it's crucial to address these changes proactively.



This is NOT EASY , so we put together some suggestions that can

help.


Supporting mental health and managing mood-related symptoms during menopause often involves a combination of strategies and resources. Here are some resources that can help women in this context:


Therapy and Counseling: Seeking support from a therapist or counselor can provide a safe and confidential space to discuss mood-related symptoms and emotional challenges. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based therapies can be particularly effective in managing mood swings and anxiety.


Support Groups: Joining a menopause or women's health support group can provide a

sense of community and understanding. Sharing experiences with others who are going through similar changes can be comforting and educational.


Online Resources: There are various reputable websites, forums, and apps dedicated to

women's health during menopause. These platforms offer articles, blogs, and expert advice on managing mood swings and other symptoms. They can also provide access to virtual support communities.


Discovering highly qualified menopause practitioners is just a click away. Head to

www.menopause.org, where you'll find a directory of health professionals who have achieved distinction in the field of menopause. This directory serves as your portal to connecting with top-tier healthcare providers who are dedicated to staying at the forefront of the latest advancements in menopause medicine."


Books and Publications: There are many books and publications written by experts in

women's health that offer guidance on managing mood-related symptoms during menopause. These resources can provide valuable insights and self-help strategies.


Medical Consultation: It's essential to consult a healthcare professional, such as a

gynecologist or a menopause specialist. They can assess your specific needs and recommend treatments or therapies, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other medications, if necessary.


Lifestyle Changes: Engaging in regular exercise, adopting a balanced diet, practicing

stress-reduction techniques like meditation or yoga, and getting adequate sleep are all

resources within your control that can significantly impact mood and well-being during

menopause.


Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps: Several apps are designed to support mindfulness and relaxation, offering guided meditation, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. These can be useful for managing stress and mood swings.



It's important to note that what works best can vary from person to person, so it's essential to explore different resources and strategies to find what aligns with your specific needs and preferences. We always recommend consulting with a healthcare professional who can help determine the most suitable resources for your situation.


Starting the difficult conversation, talking about menopause and mental health can be

challenging, but it's essential for your well-being. We admit, this is a silent conversation with oneself, not one made easily with others. It’s time to embrace menopause to empower yourself.


Menopause is a journey filled with changes, both physical and emotional. By nurturing your vulva and addressing your mental health, you can empower yourself to embrace this transformative phase in your life. Remember, you're not alone, and together, we can open up about vulva health and ensure that women feel in control and supported at all stages of their lives.


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“Comparing the Risks and Benefits of Hormone Therapy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research,

6 Dec. 2022, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/in-depth/hormone-therapy/art-20046372.


Vaginal atrophy - Diagnosis & treatment - Mayo Clinic. (2021, September 17). Mayo Clinic.

htps://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginal-atrophy/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352294

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