Menopause & Hot flashes

Menopause

Menopause is the time in your life when you stop having periods because of hormonal changes. This usually happens in your late 40s or early 50s, but may happen earlier, with 51 being the most common age.​

Menopause starts when your ovaries stop making estrogen, and slow down making other reproductive hormones, like progesterone. Without these hormones, you stop getting your period and stop being able to get pregnant.​

Not everyone goes through menopause because of aging. Sometimes other health issues kickstart menopause. If your ovaries are removed through surgery, you may experience sudden symptoms of menopause instead of the gradual change that usually happens. Medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can also make menopause happen early or suddenly.​

Your doctor can help you figure out if you’re going through menopause. They can also help you manage menopause symptoms.

Perimenopause​

Perimenopause means the time leading up to menopause where you may have symptoms. This stage can last anywhere from a few months to up to 10 years, and is a process that may start, stop, and start up again.​

Perimenopause usually begins in your 40s, but it can start earlier, too. People who smoke usually start perimenopause 2 years earlier than nonsmokers.​

The amount of estrogen made by your ovaries starts to change in your 30s and 40s — it can go up and down. You may notice this is happening because your periods begin to change. Changes to periods during perimenopause is common and totally normal.

Some changes you might notice include:​

  • The time between one period and another changing (either longer or shorter)
  • Totally skipping a period
  • Bleeding patterns changing during your period (heavier or lighter)
  • Bleeding between periods​

Changes in menstrual bleeding are pretty normal during perimenopause, but it’s still a good idea to talk with your doctor about them.​

You can still get pregnant during perimenopause. If you don’t want to get pregnant, continue using your birth control method for at least a year after you have your last period. Your doctor can talk with you about stopping your birth control method and answer any other questions you have about perimenopause.​

Common menopause symptoms:​

  • Irregular periods: Periods becoming shorter, longer, heavier, lighter. Skipping periods.
  • Hot flashes: A hot flash is a sudden, sometimes intense feeling of heat that rushes to your face and upper body. Hot flashes can be really uncomfortable, but they usually only last a few minutes. They can happen a few times a day, a few times a week, or a few times a month.
  • Night sweats: Hot flashes that wake you up in the middle of the night.
  • Sleep problems: You may have insomnia – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may also start to wake up much earlier than you used to.
  • Vaginal changes: The lining of your vagina may become thinner, drier or less stretchy.
  • Urinary or bladder infections:  You may have to pee more often or get more frequent urinary tract or bladder infections.
  • Mood changes: Hormone changes can make you feel anxious, irritable, and tired.
  • Weaker bones: Your bones will probably weaken during menopause. If it’s really bad, it can lead to osteoporosis after menopause. Making sure to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D can help.

Hot flashes

Hot flashes can be a pretty unpleasant symptom of perimenopause and menopause. We don’t totally understand the cause of hot flashes.​

Most people describe a hot flash as a sudden hot feeling that spreads all over your body – but mostly the upper body, like your arms, chest, and face.  You may also get sweaty, and your fingers may tingle and your heart may beat faster. A typical hot flash usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.​

Hot flashes at night are called night sweats. Sometimes they can get so severe that you soak your sheets with sweat.

Hot flashes are super common. More than 3 out of 4 people have them while going through perimenopause and menopause.

Nothing will make hot flashes stop completely, but there are some things you can do to help relieve them. You can try:​

  • regular exercise
  • keeping a healthy weight
  • taking a cold shower during a hot flash or before bed
  • cooling down the temperature of your living space (especially your bedroom)
  • cutting out caffeine, hot drinks, and spicy foods
  • wearing thin layers of cotton clothes (so that you can remove layers during hot flashes)
  • keeping a record of when you have hot flashes to help you figure out if anything is triggering them
  • Hormone therapy (replacing the hormones that your body stops making when you’re going through perimenopause and menopause – estrogen and progesterone).​

Natural and herbal medicines may help with hot flashes. Some helpful ones are isoflavones, black cohosh, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, vitamin C and vitamin E.  You could also opt for hijama and acupuncture.

PMDD

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS. PMDD can cause depression, anxiety and other physical and mental health symptoms during the two weeks leading up to your period. These symptoms can be so extreme that they get in the way of your daily life, like work, school, or your relationships. PMDD symptoms usually go away once your period starts, or a day or two after.​

What causes PMDD?​

It’s not yet known what exactly causes PMDD, but scientists think it’s connected to the hormonal changes that happen during your menstrual cycle and a chemical in your brain that affects mood called serotonin.​

What are the symptoms of PMDD?​

The symptoms are worse than those of PMS, causing big problems in your daily life. If you have any of the following symptoms, and they consistently happen to you in the week or two leading up to your period (or become a lot worse then), talk with your doctor about PMDD.​

Symptoms of PMDD include:​

  • Depression
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling very tired
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Bloating
  • Food cravings​

How is PMS/PMDD treated?​

If you think you have PMDD visit your doctor for a blood test or other tests or exams to rule out other causes of your symptoms. They may also ask you questions about any history with anxiety or depression you might have had in the past.​

There is no one PMDD/PMS treatment or medication that works for everyone. Your options may include:​

  • Reading the Quran and other books.
  • Eating natural remedies like honey and dried fruits to re-energise you and help the brain regain energy.
  • Eating talbeenah – made with barley flour, water and milk to soothe the heart, take away grief and cleanse your stomach. 
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine (like ibuprofen or aspirin).
  • Diet changes and regular exercise.​

Dhikr and dua are one of the great remedies that will get rid of the thoughts going through your mind and the things your heart is grieving over.

These are three narrated dua’s from the Prophet (PBUH):​

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْبُخْلِ وَالْجُبْنِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ

Allaahumma ‘innee ‘a’oothu bika minal-hammi walhazani, wal’ajzi walkasali, walbukhli waljubni, wa dhala’id-dayni wa ghalabatir-rijaal

O Allah, I seek refuge in You from grief and sadness, from weakness and from laziness, from miserliness and from cowardice, from being overcome by debt and overpowered by men (i.e. others).​

للّهُـمَّ إِنِّي عَبْـدُكَ ابْنُ عَبْـدِكَ ابْنُ أَمَتِـكَ نَاصِيَتِي بِيَـدِكَ، مَاضٍ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ، عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤكَ أَسْأَلُـكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ سَمَّـيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ أِوْ أَنْزَلْتَـهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ، أَوْ عَلَّمْـتَهُ أَحَداً مِنْ خَلْقِـكَ أَوِ اسْتَـأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الغَيْـبِ عِنْـدَكَ أَنْ تَجْـعَلَ القُرْآنَ رَبِيـعَ قَلْبِـي، وَنورَ صَـدْرِي وجَلَاءَ حُـزْنِي وذَهَابَ هَمِّـي

Allaahumma ‘innee ‘abduka, ibnu ‘abdika, ibnu ‘amatika, naasiyatee biyadika, maadhin fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadhaa’uka, ‘as’aluka bikulli ismin huwa laka, sammayta bihi nafsaka, ‘aw ‘anzaltahu fee kitaabika, ‘aw ‘allamtahu ‘ahadan min khalqika, ‘awista’tharta bihi fee ‘ilmil-ghaybi ‘indaka, ‘an taj’alal-Qur’aana rabee’a qalbee, wa noora sadree, wa jalaa’a huznee, wa thahaaba hammee.

O Allah, I am Your slave and the son of Your male slave and the son of your female slave. My forehead is in Your Hand ( you have control over me). I am subject to Your decree, and Your decision upon me is justice itself. I ask You by every name that is Yours by which You have named Yourself, or which You revealed in Your Book,or which You have taught any one of Your creation, or which You have kept to Yourself in the knowledge of the unseen that is with You, to make the Qur’an the spring of my heart, and the light of my chest, the removal of my sorrow and the departure of my worries.”​

لا إلهَ إلا أنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظّالِمِيْنَ

Laa ilaaha illa Anta, subhaanaka inni kuntu min al-zaalimeen​

None has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allaah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You (above all that (evil) they associate with You).​

If you reach a stage where those ill thoughts are not going away anymore and it is a constant mental battle, hasten to treat the problem with ruqyah as prescribed in shariah. You should also consider seeking psychological help but be mindful of side effects from some of the drugs they prescribe. Do some research on the drugs they suggest – studies suggest people can’t cope without antidepressants once they start taking them.