Aging is a process that is intrinsically linked with menopause. As you gain in years, your body also ages and menopause naturally occurs as part of the aging cycle. Every woman goes through this phase and it is a different experience for every woman. Most women agree that menopause is a great maturing experience and helps them accept their age gracefully.
There are many signs and indicators of menopause. There is no need to have any fear or anxiety about menopause, because it is as much a natural process as puberty and it happens to every woman. As you approach the time in your life when menopause becomes more likely, be on the lookout for the signs that menopause approaching.
As menopause approaches and the periods stop, the symptoms resulting from low estrogen levels become obvious. Common symptoms of menopause include the following:
Stoppage of periods
The periods will begin to become irregular and will eventually stop. When you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row, it means you have likely reached menopause.
Increased hot flashes
The hot flashes may be similar to those in perimenopause but can be more frequent and more intense. Most hot flashes last as little as 30 seconds or as much as 10 minutes before you feel better. About 2/3 of all women will experience hot flashes as a part of their menopausal symptoms.
Without the protective effect of estrogen and progesterone, the cervix and vagina do not secrete as much fluid. This can result in pain on intercourse as well as an increased risk of yeast infections, bladder infections, and vaginal itching. It is best treated with a water-based lubricating gel such as KY jelly.
While in menopause, sleep can be difficult. You may have difficulty getting to sleep at night or may wake earlier in the morning, with difficulty in falling back to sleep. Good sleep habits can help prevent this complication.
Incontinence of Urine
Women in menopause may experience an increase in the urge to urinate or incontinence of urine. Stress incontinence can occur, which is the kind of incontinence that occurs when coughing, lifting heavy objects, or sneezing. Urge incontinence is the type of incontinence that causes you to have sudden urges to void, sometimes not making it to the toilet before urinating.
Women in menopause may have more bladder infections than normal. This is because the lack of estrogen has resulted in atrophy of the urethral lining so that bacteria have a greater chance of traveling up to the bladder, resulting in an infection. Drinking plenty of water can help reduce the chances of getting a bladder infection.
Decreased sex drive
The lack of male and female hormones in the woman’s blood can result in a decreased interest in sex. There may be fewer orgasms or no orgasms at all. This can be treated with prescription medications that help a woman achieve an orgasm.
The walls of the vagina become thinner because they no longer have estrogen to build up the lining. This can cause pain on intercourse that can be managed with over the counter vaginal lubricants. Estrogen in a vaginal ring can restore some of the vaginal dryness.
Increased mood swings
Mood swings and depressive symptoms can result from a lack of estrogen. The fluctuations in female hormones affect the brain as well as the rest of the body so that there will be reductions in the neurotransmitters that are necessary to maintain a healthy mood.
Skin and Hair Changes
Menopause can increase the rate of hair loss so that the hair will be thinner than before menopause. There will be a loss of body fat and collagen so that the skin will become more wrinkled, and will have decreased elasticity and increased dryness.
Weight gain is another sign of menopause. Generally women gain around five pounds but this varies from individual to individual. The extra weight has a tendency to gather in the stomach area.
Menopausal symptoms can last a few months or a few years. They can also last for a few weeks and then go away for many months before starting up again. Most women will have a decrease in menopausal symptoms once they finally go through the menopausal stage.