When it comes to health issues and timelines, it can be difficult to recall when things began to change, or symptoms began to emerge. Menopause symptoms can be this way, too. How long have I been irritable, bloated and having hot flashes? Well maybe a few months, but it feels like a lifetime. Expecting our brains to track the timeline of menopausal symptoms, (while holding all the passwords, pin numbers, 80s song lyrics, birthdays of family members and random important bits of information gathered across our lives) may simply be too much to ask.
Tracking your symptoms is essential for gaining control of your menopause process. Here are some reasons why:
- It establishes a baseline. Tracking the patterns of menopause symptoms can help establish a baseline so that you’ll know what to expect in the next phase of your journey.
- It helps your see patterns. It can help you better understand what’s causing your symptoms and enable you to identify patterns. This can be especially beneficial for some of the more mysterious symptoms that may be present during some parts of the month and then disappear for a few weeks. (Not that you’d necessarily miss them while they’re gone, mind you.)
- It can actually improve your symptoms. Tracking also helps you learn what you should be doing to manage the causes, and so helps to improve your symptoms. For example, tracking sleep issues and hot flashes can help you keep perspective on the frequency of these symptoms which can inform the next steps for managing them.
- It puts you in control. The sense of control that tracking offers puts you back in the driver’s seat rather than being a terrified passenger, expecting to careen off the road at any minute. The more awareness you have, the greater the likelihood of being able to manage the symptoms of menopause.
As women, we’re rather used to tracking our health stats. Apps such as period trackers and others that track fitness data have been helping us learn more about our bodies and keep tabs on our health for quite a while now. We should keep this habit (or start it) during menopause, because the information we can learn about ourselves can make our lives with menopause much easier. We gain a greater understanding of what is going on within our bodies and make healthy choices.
Tracking can also offer up red flags for you and your doctor to discuss. Some symptoms may indicate a need for intervention if the timing is problematic or if the symptoms are severe. Tracking your symptoms can help you and your doctor make decisions about whether treatments are needed, and whether you may be at greater risk for additional health concerns based on the timeline and severity of your symptoms.