Menopause Symptoms to Be Aware Of
With contributions from Krystina O.
Sometimes menopause begins with changes in periods, hot flashes, or loss of libido. You begin to wonder, “What is going on with my body?” All the signs point towards you entering menopause.
What Is Menopause and What Are the Stages of Menopause?
We hear “menopause” and we assume that we simply end menstruation and are menopausal. However, there are several stages of menopause before we are actually “menopausal.”
Perimenopause is the initial stage of menopause. According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), perimenopause occurs when the body begins to provide signals that that menopause is beginning. The crazy thing about perimenopause? Although it has begun, it can still be years until your final menstrual period.
The average age of perimenopause is 47, but there is some variability.
Menopause is defined by NAMS as “the spontaneous, permanent ending of menstruation that is not caused by any medical treatment.” A woman is typically felt to be menopausal when she has not had a menstrual period for 12 months.
Menopause naturally occurs between the ages of 40 and 58, with the average age being 51. A woman can look to her mother as a guide as to when she is most likely to reach menopause. However, there are several variables that can affect when she will reach menopause. For example, smokers often reach menopause two years earlier than nonsmokers.
Postmenopause occurs once you’ve been one year without a menstrual period. Once you have hit this mark, you will then be considered postmenopausal for the rest of your life. Any vaginal bleeding after this point is considered abnormal and should be investigated by a physician immediately.
You may think that you will be symptom-free during this stage. However, certain symptoms are known to remain for a while. Vaginal dryness and hot flashes can continue for a while due to decreased estrogen levels. Also, once you’ve become postmenopausal, you’re risk of developing hormone-related diseases such as osteoporosis decreases.
Menopause Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of
Now that you understand what perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause are – you may start to notice symptoms months or years before you are in menopause. You won’t know exactly when this will start, but if you pay attention to how you are feeling, you will start to notice changes.
Symptoms will vary from woman to woman, and some women may not have any symptoms that their periods may end soon.
Here are 19 telltale symptoms you are entering the menopause:
You will know a hot flash as soon as you have one.
A hot flash is a sudden overwhelming blast of heat starting at your forehead going down into your feet and accompanied by sweating. You may also experience flushing or redness in your face and upper body.
The experience of a hot flash can range from minor sweating to a feeling as if you are covered in too many blankets in a 90-degree room.
Hot flashes are your body’s response to the decreased supply of estrogen. Not all women experience hot flashes, but most do.
How quickly estrogen diminishes determines how frequent and strong your hot flashes will be. If your estrogen production stops suddenly, you are in for some pretty harsh hot flashes.
Night sweats are severe hot flashes occurring after you have fallen asleep.
They wake you up the middle of the night leaving you cold and clammy. Your heart might be pounding, and your sheets soaked in sweat.
For many women, night sweats can be so severe that they disrupt sleep and make it difficult to function during the day.
Menopause causes increases in sweat production separate from hot flashes and night sweats. This rise leads to increased body odor even if you maintain a good hygiene routine.
And while body odor changes are common, they are bothersome.
Ask your doctor about treatments for managing hormonal imbalances or make simple changes to your way of life, such as wearing clothing that is lighter and breathable.
Next page: More menopause symptoms and signs, including changes in period, vaginal dryness, mood swings, mental health, and more.