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things no one ever tells menopause

Your heart may start to skip a beat.
And not necessarily in that fun, excited-about-a-new-love-interest kind of way. In the time leading up to menopause (called perimenopause), many women can experience heart palpitations, says Goldberg. “In some women, these palpitations could indicate a heart problem, but in others it’s due to hormonal fluxes,” she says. The way to differentiate: if your heart palpitations last more than a few minutes, make you feel short of breath or cause you to faint (or nearly faint), it could be a sign of something serious. “My advice is that if you’re ever concerned about this symptom, get it checked out by a doctor,” says Goldberg.

Your “bad” cholesterol may go up.
Turns out estrogen does a lot more than help regulate our periods: It keeps LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) low and HDL cholesterol (the good kind) high. So, as estrogen decreases during menopause, LDL tends to rise and HDL stays the same. The good news, says Goldberg, is that if you lead a healthy lifestyle as you approach menopause you can prevent these fluctuations. What’s more, making sure you get plenty of exercise and that you’re eating a heart-healthy diet are two lifestyle changes that can go a long way toward countering these cholesterol changes during menopause, she says.

You may feel less social.
If you’ve always been an extrovert, you may be surprised when you suddenly feel like spending more time alone. “Menopause is an introspective period, which means you might experience an emotional shift that could affect your social life,” says Holly Lucille, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Los Angeles. “Don’t just jump to the assumption that you’re depressed. This newfound introspection should be honored.” At long last, this is often a time in a woman’s life when she starts to put herself first. “Prior to menopause, women are more likely to make sure that their kids, partner, parents, co-workers—you name it—get what they need, and only then does she take care of herself,” says Barb Dehn, RN, a nurse practitioner in Mountain View, Calif., and author of The Hot Guide to Cool Sexy Menopause. “During menopause, many women start prioritizing themselves and start thinking about what they want to do.”

Now’s the time to go “green.”
Recent research shows that certain chemicals in the pesticides on the food we eat and in the household products so many of us use contain hormone-disrupting compounds—not exactly what you want during a time in your life when your hormones are already transitioning to a new normal, says Lucille. “I tell my patients to detox as much as possible when they’re in menopause,” she says. “It’s already a disruptive time for your hormones. Why risk making things worse?” Steer clear of products that contain parabens, phthalates, and BPAs. For more info, check out these 3 Simple, Science-Backed Reasons To Eat Organic.