Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
When you go from feeling fine one moment to feeling like you are stranded in the desert wearing a parka the next, you are experiencing hot flashes, a telltale symptom of menopause.
Menopause, like starting menstruation during puberty, is a key milestone in a woman’s life. When a woman goes through menopause, she will stop menstruating and no longer be fertile.
Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States. In the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause), you might experience these signs and symptoms*:
- Irregular periods – Some women might experience more frequent periods, while others might get them less often.
- Vaginal dryness – Although this is very treatable, it’s a private topic that many women are embarrassed to speak about with their physician. If vaginal dryness occurs, ask your physician about using estrogen cream to make you more physically comfortable.
- Hot flashes – Although hot flashes typically last just a few minutes, they cause a woman to feel very warm and uncomfortable, possibly increasing her heart rate.
- Night sweats – These are similar to hot flashes, but they happen at night.
- Sleep problems – Many women have trouble falling asleep because of anxiety, and staying asleep because of night sweats.
- Mood changes – A combination of changing hormones, disturbed sleep and anxiety can contribute to changes in mood.
- Weight gain – Hormonal changes are cited as the reason for weight gain, especially around the abdomen, during menopause. Disturbed sleep and the typical aging process may also play a role.
- Thinning hair and dry skin – Declining estrogen levels can wreak havoc on your hair and skin during menopause. Drinking plenty of water and taking vitamins, such as A, D, E and Biotin, can help restore the hair and skin.
- Loss of breast fullness – Another result of decreased estrogen levels, the skin loses some of its elasticity, causing the beasts to lose their firmness and fullness.
You don’t need to see your physician specifically for menopause, other than your annual physical, unless the symptoms become too bothersome or concerning. There are a number of treatments available to help manage or alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause, including hormone therapy, antidepressants and medications for osteoporosis and hot flashes.
* Source: Mayo Clinic
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