This post was contributed by our partners at Gennev, a platform dedicated to helping women navigate menopause.
Women are really good at gritting their teeth and getting through pain: monthly cramps, labor, delivery, sore breasts, and so on. Historically, menopause, with its assortment of symptoms, is no different.
Joint pain, sore backs and necks, worsening cramps in perimenopause, headaches — the menopause transition can be a veritable chocolate box of new things hurting. But when chronic pain is already an issue, the pains of perimenopause and menopause can be exponentially harder to manage.
WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?
From a medical standpoint, “menopause” is a single day – the 1 year anniversary of your last period. For the women managing it, menopause is estrogen withdrawal, and that can mean mood swings, hot flashes, joint pain, brain fog, incontinence, and more. There are 34 recognized symptoms of menopause, and none of them are particularly pleasant (except the end of periods – we’re good with that one).
HOW CAN MENOPAUSE MAKE PAIN WORSE?
Estrogen may be the reason behind the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” This reproductive hormone helps feed our brains, cushion our joints, reduce inflammation, promote digestion, keep emotions balanced, maintain strong bones, and keep tissues plump and hydrated. It’s also protective against heart disease and dementia. There are estrogen receptors all over a woman’s body, performing a myriad of functions.
So when estrogen starts to dip and decrease in perimenopause, the changes can be unpleasant, even painful, and they can be all over, literally from head to toe. Things that were already hurting, like joints from arthritis, may worsen. And even more, worsening or new-onset depression is a common symptom of perimenopause, so those already in pain may be dealing with a cascade of challenges both physical and mental.
One way to manage the pain is to know the triggers. Like other chronic conditions, menopause symptoms are often related to triggers: certain foods can irritate the bladder and increase urgency incontinence; losing some weight or being more active can help loosen joints; practicing good sleep habits is critical for making pain more manageable; avoiding alcohol or exercise too late in the day might reduce hot flashes. But what triggers any woman’s symptoms are often unique to her, which makes tracking on an app like Branch so important.
Tracking plus solutions is the best combination for managing old and new pains. At Gennev, we recommend magnesium glycinate to ease joint pain and anxiety and help you sleep. We also have hemp-oil products to reduce pain and encourage better rest. Our treatments were developed by a naturopathic physician, so you can trust you’re getting high-quality ingredients, and nothing “extra” that isn’t on the label.
Best of all, Gennev has physicians and health coaches who can help you understand how menopause can complicate the issue you’re already experiencing and get you on track to regaining your quality of life. We strongly encourage you to find a physician who is specially trained in menopause care, either via Gennev’s telemedicine or from the North American Menopause Society. It’s important to talk with a doctor who understands the complicated dance of hormones.
YOU’RE A STEP AHEAD
Too many women aren’t informed about perimenopause and menopause, because we’re not taught it in schools, and society doesn’t encourage open conversations about women’s bodies. We think all women have the right to know, and it’s especially important for women who are already managing chronic health conditions to know what could be coming.
You don’t have to go it alone. Gennev has resources to complement the help you’re already getting with Branch, so come visit us, join the conversation on our forums, and have a happier, healthier menopause.