There comes a time in all women’s lives when a hormonal switch occurs in the body, causing you to stop menstruating. The transition is a slow one, with the process taking between 1 and 10 years, typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, and is a unique aspect of women’s health. The final phase of the hormonal transition occurs when you’ve gone 12 months without having a period. Although it happens to everyone, with some women going through it earlier than others, there are some common experiences that most women have. Here are six symptoms of menopause to expect once your body begins this important transition.
1. Menopause Comes In Stages
The stages of these hormonal changes are described as premenopause, perimenopause, and menopause. Premenopause refers to when you are considered to still be in your reproductive years. This means you’re still having periods and shouldn’t see any noticeable changes in your body. Perimenopause is when you may begin to feel some of the symptoms of menopause and the impending change. The final stage, menopause, begins when you haven’t had a period in 12 months.
2. You Might Experience Hot Flashes
One of the early signs of the perimenopause stage is having hot flashes. This is typically experienced as a sudden change in body temperature, sometimes accompanied by reddened skin and heart palpitations. Hot flashes are a result of hormonal changes in the hypothalamus, which is considered the body’s thermostat, the area that helps to regulate temperature. Night sweats are common as well.
3. You Can Manage The Hot Flashes
Although you’re not going to be able to stop them, there are ways to manage hot flashes. Some people may be able to identify triggers like hot foods or drinks, stress, alcohol, caffeine, or warm weather. If you know what to expect, you can avoid these things in order to lessen the frequency. Through trial and error you can determine what clothes are best for you to wear at night and during the day, your ideal sleeping environment, and a good temperature for your home. Some women respond to medications or dietary supplements in order to lessen the intensity of the hot flashes.
4. Your Vagina Will Undergo Some Changes
While hot flashes will make you uncomfortable, there will also be some actual physical changes in your body including changes to your vagina. Due to a decrease in estrogen production, the lining in your vagina begins to thin. In addition to thinning, your body also produces fewer secretions, which will lead to vaginal dryness and possible inflammation. This may cause uncomfortable sexual intercourse, redness, and itchiness. This discomfort can lead to a loss of sexual desire. Over-the-counter remedies are available in the form of vaginal lubricants, and there are also prescription options available.
5. You Might Experience Irregular Bleeding
One of the early signs of menopause includes irregular periods. This may present as still experiencing monthly menstrual cycles but at irregular intervals, going from having a period every 28 days to having one every 24 days, or having lighter or heavier bleeding. Hormone therapy is available to help control the bleeding and make it more comfortable.
6. You May See Other Physical Changes
Along with some of the common symptoms mentioned above, you may also see some physical changes that appear unconnected to menopausal symptoms like weight gain, dry skin and hair, and urinary incontinence.
7. You Might Experience Changes In Other Areas Of Your Life
Signs like changes in bleeding or physical changes in your body are easy to pinpoint and tie to menopause, but there are other issues that are a little less obvious. Many women will experience mood swings as a result of a change in hormone levels. These mood changes can include feeling depressed or experiencing a range of emotions throughout the course of minutes or throughout the day. Sleep problems also occur due to night sweats, which are hot flashes occurring during sleep. Additionally, this discomfort while sleeping can lead to disruption in sleep habits, leading to feeling tired and irritable. Finally, some women even experience memory and concentration problems
The Woman’s Clinic Is Here To Help
Although we can’t stop menopause, there are ways to make it more comfortable and easy to manage. If you’re approaching menopausal age and have begun feeling some physical or mental changes and are concerned about your health care, schedule an appointment with us to discuss your concerns and we can lend a hand in helping to determine coping strategies, treatment options, or other ways of managing the changes in your body.