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Signs of Menopause

Updated on June 22, 2011

Menopause is a natural part of the aging process for women and each woman will experience this time in her life differently. Most women will have varying degrees of physiological changes while others will hardly notice. One of the biggest changes a woman experiences is of course, the cessation of her menstrual cycle.

As a woman’s body enters menopause many physical changes take place, including a reduction in the hormone estrogen. As the levels of estrogen decline, a number of other symptoms manifest themselves. The symptoms of menopause can last for several years, so be sure to speak with your doctor about any changes that are troublesome. There are many treatment options available to help you handle the discomforts of menopause.


Signs of Menopause
Signs of Menopause

As a woman’s body prepares for menopause, she enters what is known as pre menopause or perimenopause. Early signs of menopause, or perimenopause symptoms, are often clues that menopause has begun. Women usually begin to experience menopause symptoms sometime during their late 40’s to early 50’s, anything earlier than this menopause age is often considered early menopause.


Some of the early signs of menopause may include:

   

  • Changes in your monthly menstrual cycle
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Hot flashes or hot flushes
  • Chronic fatigue or exhaustion
  • Cramps, and other aches and pains
  • Depression
  • Increase in the symptoms of PMS
  • Susceptibility to yeast infections
  • Changes in body hair, like random facial hair
  • Changes in your sleep pattern
  • Lack of libido, or interest in sex
  • Weight gain, especially belly fat
  • Water retention
  • Urinary problems
  • Night sweats
  • Heart palpitations
  • Vaginal dryness, painful or uncomfortable intercourse
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar levels


As menopause approaches the changing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can create a wide variety of symptoms and conditions. A few women will have a very difficult time and will experience severe symptoms, while others will transition more easily. Menopause treatment is available and can be effective for many women who experience acute symptoms.

One of the first noticeable pre menopause symptoms many women experience is a change in their menstrual cycle. Periods often become irregular, with more or less bleeding, or changes in the length of the cycle itself. Sometimes there is spotting or light bleeding between periods.

Night sweats and hot flashes are very common and can be extremely uncomfortable. Hot flashes create an intense feeling of heat in the upper part of the body and are often accompanied with flushing, or redness in the face and neck. Night sweats are associated with these hot flashes and can vary from mild to quite severe; they can typically last a few years after menopause.




Vaginal dryness is also quite common and can often lead to painful or uncomfortable intercourse. Vaginal infections are also more common during menopause and a sudden loss of libido is very typical.

Many women suffer with various urinary problems, including infections, incontinence and a frequent need to urinate. Some women will also experience small leaks, especially when sneezing or coughing.

Of course, the symptom which seems to get the most attention is the inevitable mood swings, which can vary widely in intensity. For some women, the moods swings can escalate into clinical anxiety and depression which require medication and a doctor’s supervision. This is usually rare, and most women experience mood swings similar to what they had during menstruation.


Weight gain is common during menopause and tends to gather mostly around the mid-section, turning to belly fat. A woman can become easily overwhelmed with the vicious cycle. Night sweats and anxiety can cause interrupted sleep, making you exhausted. Because you’re tired and never truly feel rested, you become more irritable. As the weight creeps up, you’re sad and disheartened to see the changes taking place, but often find yourself too tired to exercise or take proper care of yourself. It’s important to stop this cycle before it gets too far out of hand.

The signs of menopause are varied and each woman will experience different symptoms and at varying degrees of intensity. With some symptoms, like anxiety and depression, it’s important that you see a doctor and possibly get medication to help control the depression. Other symptoms may be more of an annoyance and you can find simple solutions that might work for you. Many women find keeping their bedroom cool at night and having a fan running will help them through the night sweats.

With the decrease in estrogen, bone loss also becomes a big concern. Weight bearing exercise can help build bone density and the added exercise is good for weight control. Research is also showing that getting adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium can help alleviate and reduce the risks associated with menopause. Talk to your doctor about your need for supplements.

Eat a healthy low-fat diet, get plenty of fiber and exercise daily. If you’re bothered by hot flashes, try reducing your caffeine intake. Caffeine has been linked to increased hot flashes and of course, it can contribute to sleeplessness. Some women have success with soy based foods because they are high in phytoestrogens which is a plant chemical that acts much like the hormone estrogen that is produced naturally in the body.

Herbs that may be beneficial include black cohosh, St. John’s Wort, dong quai, ginsent, evening primrose oil, chasteberry and red clover. Many women swear by these herbal remedies, try some for yourself and see what works for you.

Menopausal symptoms can be challenging, try to keep your sense of humor and realize this is just a natural phase of life every woman must endure.

Comments

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  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    Thanks Victoria, I'm glad you found it helpful!

  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    Thanks triosol! Menopause can be a very difficult time for some women, but it's nice to know there are some natural steps we can take to alleviate symptoms.

  • triosol profile image

    triosol 

    8 years ago

    Great Hub. Very useful information. Voted up.

  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    Hi GmaGoldie, thanks for your kind comments!

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 

    8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

    You echoed my feeling exactly. I have never lost a night of sleep until this age - argh! And then fighting the weight gain and the other icky body changes - oh, my! Thank you! You are an excellent writer! You express difficult feelings well.

  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    Thanks Ingenira! Glad you found it helpful.

  • Ingenira profile image

    Ingenira 

    8 years ago

    very informative, thank you.

  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    hi akirchner, you are so right ... it's definitely better than the alternative! What can we do? I guess it helps to keep a sense of humor and keep dealing with it all. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 

    8 years ago from Washington

    The joys of being a woman - but oh well - what are ya gonna do? Very detailed and informative about all the multitude of things we old gals have to face but I always say it beats the alternative! I especially like the random facial hair....I always wanted to grow a beard! (ha ha) Thanks for the info - and hawgly is right - men should probably read this as it might increase their sensitivity! We can only hope!!

  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    Thanks hawgly, sounds like you may have some personal experience with this. Women all have different symptoms, but it's definitely good for the men in their lives to be familiar with what they are going through. Always great to have you stop in!

  • hawgly profile image

    hawgly 

    8 years ago from Colorado

    Lamme - Great hub! And some very helpful resources and info. While most men would brush by this article and not relevant to themselves, I would say that since most of them would be witness to the symptoms and stresses of women in their lives, it would be good to have at least a passing familiarity with this most pronounced female phenomenon. Once agai, excellent article. Guys, ignore this information at your own risk!

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