16 May 2013

OMG!!! Does Menopause Hell EVER End???

HotFlash300So. Your official menopause date has passed. (That’s a year after your last period, in case you’re unsure).

But Hilda Hot Flash and her evil stepsisters haven’t gotten the message. The fun rages on long after that date has come and gone.

What’s up with that??

The ability to cruise through menopause with nary a hot flash or mood swing relates to your balance of estrogen and progesterone. If the levels of these two hormones play nicely and drift down slowly, you’re likely to avoid hot flashes, night sweats and most of the other 34 symptoms of perimenopause.

Your experience can also depend on your body type. If you’re carrying extra weight, you’ll generally have fewer problems with hot flashes and night sweats because fat tissue makes estrogen. However, you may experience more problems with symptoms that relate to estrogen dominance such as mood swings, decreased sex drive, fatigue and insomnia.

There’s Good News and Bad

The good news is that many of these symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes and supplements. If your quality of life is being severely affected, hormone replacement is also an option.

Suffering is NOT required!

Now for the Bad News

Many of my readers ask if this will go on forever. For most women, hormone levels will even out and symptoms will go away…but it could take 5-10 years. For a small minority, symptoms CAN come and go well into old age, but this is not the norm. There’s no way to predict who gets what, although there is a genetic link between your experience and your mom’s. So, if you can, ask her about what she experienced.

Love up Your Lifestyle

The best place to start managing your symptoms is by making lifestyle changes. You don’t have to do them all at once. Take a baby step approach! Pick one to work on and move on to another as your new habits become part of what you do.

  • Exercise (manages cortisol which improves  estrogen/progesterone ratio)
  • Lose weight (improves estrogen dominance)
  • Avoid alcohol (alcohol increases estrogen production)
  • Manage stress (decreases cortisol; cortisol can block progesterone receptors)
  • Avoid xenoestrogens (improves estrogen dominance)
  • Eat fiber (removes estrogen and improves symptoms of dominance)

Although it is impossible to tell when your menopause symptoms will end, you can make your journey easier by making small changes. Supplements can also be helpful. Chasteberry and DIM are two that can help restore hormone balance, while herbs such as black cohosh act like estrogen in the body, thus helping with symptoms of low estrogen like hot flashes and night sweats. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying these if you have other medical conditions or a history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at https://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.


Dr. Anna Garrett

Comments

  1. Great post, Anna. I really liked the simple explanation behind the hot flashes.

    • Thanks so much Juli!

      • My name is Steve and my wife is in premenopausal and is suffering with every symptom due with menopause you can think of. She is very very tired and needs help. I read your article wanted to see if there is anything you can do to help. I suggested this article to her and she says HORMONE replacement therapy causes breast, cervical or ovarian cancers. Can you please contact myself or her to discuss and how you can help? Thanks

  2. […] an open line of communication and trust so that they can help steer you in the right direction. More than likely, you’ll be making some lifestyle changes. Adding healthy food choices, exercising and finding ways to manage your stress need to be […]

  3. Donna Musk Says: January 10, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Hi, I am so depressed with the menopause, I feel like hiding away, I have the flushes, feel tiered all the time, cant sleep sometimes, I have gained alot of weight, the docs wont give me hrt has this will pile more weight on me, some days I find it hard to walk with the joint pain in my body…. I feel like I am living in hell. Donna

    • Hi Donna,

      I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. HRT doesn’t always pile weight on…especially if it’s done carefully and slowly. Joint pain can be symptom of hormone imbalance as can weight gain, insomnia and hot flashes. There are plenty of things you can do on your own to help. What have you tried?

  4. kristine Says: April 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    hi Iam 47 years old going through primenopausal. feel like hell not sleeping,bad aniety at night night sweats no more hot flashes during the day. tired all the time.can’t take it any more. is there anything natural I can take that works. they put me on a low dose birth control. Kristine

  5. Well I’m tired of being tired 24/7 hot flashes , I’m 59 ye. And no it doesn’t go away in a year after your period. I wasn’t bad until about two yes ago. Trust me it hell in a hand basket and none of the above work. I don’t have enough energy are breath to excerise . This is very hard . Make you want to stay inside never leave home cause you can’t do anything but sit are go to bed

  6. Been 15 of hell….severe symptoms, night sweats,In somnia,severe back tension,headaches,vision trouble,dizziness,disoriented, bliated,pms,ect. I am 4yrs posteomyelitis I am 59 yrs old,I go to e.r. at least once a month . Been in mental hosp. No help. I cry .I am estrogen dominant, I hurt everydsy I feel like I am falling off chair .I have anxiety .I am depressed ,I can’t tolerate hormones or anxiety drugs I an sensitive too them. No oe can help me . Had numerous tests nothing wrong they say. Haven’t left local area in 15yrs. It’s been a nightmare . Pause in my life for sure. It never ends tried numerous things herbs. Chiropractor, eat right,excersise,sleep aids,feel like I have m.s. but it’s bot. Will it ever end. ?

  7. Karenkaren Says: August 4, 2016 at 1:00 am

    It never ends. Still feel pms. Anxiety, depression, back discomfort, vision trouble an motion sick ect. Cry everyday. Sick ,insomnia, nothing works .living in hell

  8. Angie maxfield Says: October 4, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Feel like I’m in a living hell, I work with the public and have heard various commenting on my body Oder!!! I have a very clean hygiene routine and don’t know where to turn next!!!! It’s made me consider not wanting to be here anymore as I feel so depressed by it!!! What can I do to improve it??? Please help.

  9. Cindy Tackett Says: October 14, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I also have been suffering for over 5 yrs.Age 59. I’ve found some relief with coconut oil. Daily massage into all areas of itching(my entire body itches) also adding Chia seeds to everything I eat has improved my energy levels. Listen ladies, get up! Start walking.Force yourself to get outdoors! This will help relieve stress, depression, anxiety, etc.Walking clears the mind.A mind full of the negative(all these horrible symptoms we are going thru) only makes it worse.I have joint pain and severe arthritis along with the shirt menopause.But work full time and walk daily!!

    • Cindy,
      I just read your post and prior to today was not aware that joint issues could be symptom of menopause. Been suffering with onset a year ago of all kinds of joint issues in my legs and feet. Awful, been to therapy, custom inserts, etc. no relief, but no prior trouble with any achy joints, arthritis, etc. I am wondering if this is also now part of my hormonal changes. Why don’t your OBGYN’s discuss all these awful affects and symptoms some women experience in menopause when you turn 40. Sure we all hear about the hot flashes but all these other things I am learning , and panic attack or whatever it was I had experienced was very frightening to me. As women we need to be sure doctors are checking our hormone levels early on as we acquire all these other ailments, maybe many symptoms we experience are related to imbalances and would save us a lot of time, expense and worry. Thanks for commenting, everyone’s input helps others. Not sure what I am in for, but sure hope it passes quickly.

      • Hi Lynn,

        It’s important to educate yourself as much as you can so you can be your own best advocate. Many physicians have little training when it comes to symptoms beyond hot flashes! Find a practitioner who is experienced in functional medicine.

  10. Karen Tucker Says: November 30, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I must be one of the really unlucky ones. It’s been more than 22 years since “official menopause;” I was on HRT (happily) for more than 14 of those years, but it never really stopped the hot flashes or the emotional highs and lows. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stopped the HRT immediately; had a modified radical mastectomy; took tamoxifen for the recommended 5 years. In case you didn’t know, tamoxifen BRINGS ON hot flashes, depression, anxiety, and everything you can think of!! These were the reasons I took the HRT to begin with. But, even with the HRT, my emotions were up and down; not much changed there before or after HRT. I’ve been off the tamoxifen for a couple of years now, and the way I feel is gradually improving. I now take black cohosh and evening primrose oil. I find it difficult to actually DO anything – gardening brings on hot sweats, walking brings on hot sweats, eating brings on hot sweats, swimming doesn’t do much better. I can sit in a chair and feel the heat starting in my “core,” rising to the back of my neck and then I sweat. Charming picture. My mom was 92 when she passed away and was still suffering from the same symptoms. My daughter (late 40’s) is not too thrilled about her family history!! I don’t have a lot of hope that these symptoms will ever go away, but after a while you get resigned to it!!

  11. 62 and still experiencing these hot flashes… deprives me of my sleep with all that sweating… smh…

  12. I am a man. I have loved and supported and encouraged my wife to break free herself from the hundreds of social, behavioral and … chains burdening her. Now she has done that and she hates me for “..giving her lessons”. Because menopause magnifies and brings out things that she disliked before doesn’t mean that it’s OK to be unfair and hateful towards me and our relationship which was going well until a few months ago.
    I don’t know if I can last a year let alone years. What can I do for her to at least become friend with me. That’s all I want! I don’t want sex. Just friendship will be nice. I am deeply depressed.

    • Hello Ron,
      I am so sorry for you. I am sure my husband could complain of similar concerns. All I can tell you is this recent change in me has sent me to the ER in a major panic thinking I was having a heart attack or something. I have had some drastic, crazy, freaked out things happening to my body and me that I am sure would scare the crap out of you. You wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. I ask that you be patient and I can assure you, she is not the only one. Pamper her emotions, go out of your way to let her know you love her and all will pass, help her figure out what is happening. Heck, they don’t tell you all of this stuff as you are aging, is all I ever heard about was hot flashes, well I am here to tell you now, there is a whole lot of ugly with this phase of life. Some unfortunately may experience it worse than others. I love my husband dearly but also know he probably bears the brunt of all this anxiety and uncertainty. I see you are reading and that is sweet. I pray for you and her and hope you will be patient. This too shall pass, we hope. SMILE.

  13. I am 54 and I am cannot believe that there isn’t something to help. I have tried everything. I cant work, sleep, happy? that’s gone. I hate being me! where is me? I’m I ever coming back? I went from being skinny, happy, working, no pain, running, everything a women wants to HELL! I really wish there was something I could take to stop the symptoms and puts me right into menopause and not have to deal with it anymore. I wake up everyday and put on a happy face so my husband doesn’t have to deal with it too but inside I’m sick! Now, I read that some women have these symptoms even into menopause. OMG put me down now! I hate when I hear some women do not experience any of this it makes me feel like there is something wring with me. Not to mention I have been at the doc’s so much they think I nuts. Crap I think I’m nuts. Doesn’t all this go away?? I need hope! I need someone to tell me this will go away. Please I’m so tired of being in pain, cant sleep, severe PMS, back pain, mussel and joint aches, weight gain, foggy brain, and NO motivation! I’m on natural estrogen, progesterone it has help with night sweets but that it. Everything else is still bad. I’m on a antidepressant to help but it makes me feel like I’m day dreaming every day. I have gone to the docs so many time with really bad pains right side that I’m double over. I have had every test done and every time they tell me its a pinched nerve. Really can you be in that much pain and it not be serious? Hell its like your dying. You know I know my husband love me and would never leave but crap I would leave me! I am not what he married and I just want me back!! I need to be me again. so everyday I struggle through and pray this is the day it’s over. I put on a happy face and struggle to be the old me until this is over and the old me is back and I can be happy and out of pain. Big Sigh!

  14. Do you know about cases of numbness after total hysterectomy? How can it be treated? Thanks.

  15. Hello everyone, I am 50 years old and this is my first time posting anywhere. It has been 6 years since I was diagnosed with an estrogen positive breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy, no reconstruction, hysterectomy and tamoxifen. My ovaries were spared due to my insistence and their unhappiness because my body has always been sensitive to hormonal changes. I was unsure how I wold react to a sudden, drastic change in hormone function. The tamoxifen already made things more difficult. I have been off tamoxifen for a year and was feeling ok until about 6 months ago. I feel I might be in natural menopause now and I am having such a difficult time. The mood swings are horrible and despite hiking with my dog daily, eating well and vitamins, I feel exhausted, irritable and just plain yuck all the time. My docs say I can’t take any supplements or HRT or basically anything due to my breast cancer and I feel so stuck. They will allow an antidepressant but I tried Wellbutrin and it made my mood swings worse. I still have young boys in the house 12 and 14 and I feel awful for my behavior. Does anyone have any ideas or has anyone been through the same thing? Thank you for listening!

  16. Hi I don’t don’t know but I have this feeling of falling when I walk its effects everything in my life I feel acky all over my legs and feet arms feels like something is attacking my bones. I have been told lupus MS no MRI unremarkable and orthostatic blood pressure nothing these doctors are helping me. On Bio Identical hormones progesterone but that isn’t helping. I have panic that I am dying. I don’t know how to stay it. I cry all the time and can’t do the things I use to just to walking now is scary cause I feel like I’m going to fall. I been healthy up to 6 months ago 52. And falling apart. I have great support but that doesn’t help.
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa…sorry you are having such a hard time. It sounds like the balance of your BHRT is still off. Have you had your levels rechecked?

      Anna

      • Omg i have gone through hell and back. Have had every single symtom of the menopause. Have been going through it for 12 years and i have days when i wish i dident have to wake up. The panic attacks and anxiety have been over whelming. I have had accupuntre which did take the edge of it and i slept better.I have had headaches 3 to 4 times a week. I am now 60 and just want this nightmare to end.The latest problem is acid reflux. I eat a healthy diet with fish, fresh veg ,and low fat foods.I excercise regular and im not over weight.I have one thing and thats abit of chocolate at 7oclock, but even that i have to be careful not to over indulge due to the acid reflux. Please tell me this nightmare will end or at least get better.

  17. Astrid Moore Says: August 31, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I too feel wretched a lot of the time and I am in my mid 70’s.
    I can’t help thinking that with all the advances in technology, medical science, astronomy and armaments(to name but a few) that solving or preventing the worse symptoms of the menopause would have been sorted out by now.

  18. Julie Santos Says: September 5, 2017 at 4:45 am

    Hello Dr Anna,
    I have been suffering with severe symptoms of menopause. For a while I was taking a very low dose of oral estrogen (0.25mg per day ) and I felt so much better – but then I had TIA symptoms, and the doctor took the estrogen away! :'( This was 2 years ago and I have been miserable ever since I have been doing my best with lifestyle changes, etc. Do you have any other ideas?
    Thank you so very much,
    Julie S.

  19. Hi everyone I am 53 and my last menstrual cycle was 3 years ago. I have experienced most of what has been written but it hasn’t been extreme. I was using chasteb error but has since stopped about 4 months ago. I have been experiencing severe nausea, breast tenderness, cramps and really bad mood swings, I get so angry I want to punch something.Its like my period is coming back and I even thought I could be pregnant. I took a test and thank God I am not. What in the world is going on????

  20. Rosa centeno Says: October 16, 2017 at 9:43 am

    De Anna I’m Rosa I started my menopause at age 43 I’m 49 now it feels like this will never go away now I’m experiencing dry vaginal that’s driving me crazy when will this all stop I heard 10yrs is this correct are their signs when it’s going to stop ???

    • Hi Rosa…it can last up to 10 years. Vaginal dryness is best solved with either vaginal estrogen or DHEA. Vitamin E oil can also help some women. I wish I could tell you there are definite signs of when it is going to stop, but some women have issues after menopause as well.

  21. Olive Gooden Says: November 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    For me I’m going through this from I’m 48 yrs old now I’m 62 yrs old and it’s still going on I suff r from anxiety attack every day feeling scared depression weakness head feeling like I’m going to faint just feeling awful also hot flashes mood swings feeling cool at times I just hoping and praying I’ll get up one day and find it gone in Jesus name. At times I’m sick in bed nausea feeling like I’m going to die at time, this one of the worst thing about this menopause. Thank waiting for your reply

  22. I feel as if Im going mad – my anxiety is severe, I have broken sleep, hot flashes, painful joints , Im 56 this year and an living in type of hell – Im treating my husband badly and he doesn’t deserve it – and I cant go past past hurts which I should leave behind – what can I do – I want to to on HRT to be normal again – basically I’m gong mad!!!

  23. Sherrie Says: May 21, 2018 at 12:11 am

    What about menopause brought on by a hysterectomy? Ovaries were removed as well. I just can’t get s handle on it. I have tried so many different things, and just seem to be getting progressively worse, feeling helpless. This is pure hell, body parts just aren’t meant to be removed, had I only known.

  24. Hello

    I have been freaking out as I get pelvic discomfort of and off and it feels like I am starting a period. I have not had a period for 2 years and 7 months. I am 50 years of age. I still have hot flushes, sweats, insomnia, weight gain, dry skin, bloating, IBS, mood swings, feel uncomfortable, anxiety. I thought after two years of a period I would be symptom free, but I am not, I just don’t understand and my doctors just don’t really understand. Is it normal to still get these symptoms?

  25. Martine Kennedy Says: July 4, 2018 at 10:53 am

    9 years of horrible symptoms and it continues. Cycle stopped over a year ago and have had all tests done and there is nothing wrong with me other than Beiing post. What they really don’t tell you is that it doesn’t ever go away.

  26. Hello. Can someone surges how to stop soreness on the inner lips of the vigina , going to the toilet is total agony, I am on hurt patches but they have not helped

  27. Isabel Busby Says: September 3, 2018 at 4:07 am

    Hi Dr Garrett
    I had early menopause, I was experiencing issues in my early 30s. I have been on HRT for many years. Could you tell me if it is normal to still experience some symptoms in to my 50s even though I have had early menopause. I think what I am trying to ask does having early menopause mean you will end menopause earlier?
    Thank you
    Issy

  28. I’m curious to know if you have seem wimen in their 30’s getting symptoms. I’m 36 now but 3-4 years ago I came off birth control and I got a panic attack a month after stopping BCP, I never had one before that. Since then, I have had every possible symptoms of perimenopause. My hormone panels came back normal with fsh 6.6 3 years ago. I have joint pains now especially lower back and hips. I had extreme anxiety but I’m much better now. Am I too young? While on birth control pills my last year I was passing clots of blood and had heavy periods, now I just get my periods for 1-2 days and they barely fill a pad. I’ve had a scan and no cysts and nothing abnormal.I feel i’m in perimenopause but I keep being told I’m too young.

  29. I had my last period over 5 years ago and have basically been in permanent PMS mood mode ever since. It used to be I was a sweet tempered but exhausted person with lots of patience but little energy and a tendency to either sleep too much or else not be able to sleep much at all. The only time I had any energy was right before my period but I had zero patience and was furious. As soon as my period would start even though it hurt my mood would improve and I felt like a non-monster. Now there are no periods and it feels like a non-stop PMS monster roller coaster ride 🙁 The one good thing is that the amemia resolved as I had had super heavy periods my whole life. I have had hypertension since my 30’s and am on an ACE inhibitor + an alpha blocker; I was diagnosed in my 20’s with anxious depression with psychotic features by a psychiatrist who trained in Brazil. Now I guess this is considered to be panic disorder + psychotic or delusional depression which I am on Latuda for prn. I don’t know what In can safely take. From what I’ve read on your site it looks like I may have very low progesterone. Is there anything you can recommend? I hate myself now for being so furious at almost everything – I don’t feel like me anymore. I feel like the 3 days a month PMS Kali monster I was every month when I still had functioning ovaries 🙁 but now it’s almost all the time. I have an Estring which helped with atrophy but also was the only thing that helped me sleep and avoid sliding into a psychotic break. But when it’s near the last 2 weeks of the ring I start having trouble falling and staying asleep again. 🙁 Any recommendations? I want to avoid interactions as much as possible and also avoid anything that would spike my BP. Oh – and I get GERD and have flaky digestion so that’s a thing too. Sorry this is so long!!! <3

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