Signs of Menopause

Signs of Menopause

Overview

Menopause is a stage of transition in womanhood where a woman ceases to menstruate in 12 consecutive months and can no longer become pregnant naturally. Typically, menopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55, but can develop before or after this range. Like any other condition, menopause comes with a set of symptoms including hot flashes and weight gain. For most women, medical treatment isn’t needed for menopause.

Are You Headed for Menopause?

The human body is a wonderful thing; it gives you signs if you will, that your body is progressively transitioning into menopause. You may experience hot flashes and irregular periods. This time is called perimenopause. You won't know exactly when your menopause will hit, but you can pay attention to the changes. Keep in mind that symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman; some women have no symptoms at all.

Perimenopause vs. menopause vs. postmenopause

Think of the perimenopause period as your body slowly transitioning into menopause. This is when menstrual periods become irregular, late, or skip one or more periods. Menstrual flow may also become heavier or lighter.

Menopause, on the other hand, is when you don’t experience menstruation for one full year.

Postmenopause refers to the following years after menopause has occurred.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Every woman’s experience during menopause is distinct — some more severe and others don’t experience any symptoms at all. There are other contributing conditions that impact the health of the ovary, like cancer or hysterectomy or certain lifestyle choices, like smoking, tend to increase the severity and duration of symptoms.

1. Your periods become irregular

The most common sign of your journey into menopause is irregular periods. It could come often or less often, be heavier or lighter, or last longer or shorter than before. In the perimenopause stage, it can be hard to know for sure when or if your next period comes. It's also harder to gauge how long your period will last or if your flow will be heavy or light. Getting pregnant is also harder at this stage but still possible as long as you have periods. Some chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer are some of the causes of irregular periods. Should you experience any bleeding or spotting after menopause, it isn't normal. You need to talk to your doctor.

2. You have hot flashes and night sweats

If you watched Sex and The City Movie 2, and noticed how Samantha suffered from hot flashes for no apparent reason, you would know exactly what we’re talking about. Your skin would tend to flush red and your heart may beat faster and it could suddenly change to you feeling cold. Then you could also experience something called night sweats, which are basically hot flashes that happen during sleep. They can be so intense they wake you up.

3. You have trouble sleeping

Waking up during the night or having trouble going to sleep can happen for lots of reasons, but if you don't typically have problems sleeping, it may be a sign you're approaching menopause. Sometimes it's caused by other menopausal symptoms like night sweats. If sleep problems hang on for a while, and you can't pinpoint why, it may be time to tell your doctor.

4. You experience mood swings

Moodiness comes with the territory and this happens because of the change in hormones during menopause. If you've had anxiety or depression in the past, your symptoms may worsen during menopause. Try to keep a positive mindset and banish the negative away. However, if you’ve been feeling down for a few weeks, it’s best to consult a doctor and seek treatment together.

5. You forget things

Memory lapse is apparent in both men and women during middle age. It’s usually something small like unable to think of a word or losing the car keys. Both men and women can have some minor memory lapses during middle age: not being unable to think of a word or losing the car keys. Forgetfulness can stem from not only menopause but also from stress. If you're worried that you're forgetting too much, let your doctor know.

6. You feel a reduced sex drive

In the bedroom, some women tend to experience a reduction in their sex drive and have trouble getting aroused during menopause. Then again, there are others that say they enjoy sex more and feel freer because they don't have to worry about things like getting pregnant. During menopause, the skin around your vagina may experience dryness which can make sex hurt. Gels called "personal lubricants" can help.

7. You experience physical changes.

An apparent physical change you may go through is the thinning and drying of your hair and skin become drier and thinner. Some women even gain weight during menopause. Your body could also change in a way that you have more fat around the waist and over your body as well as less muscle in general. Joints will tend to ache and become stiff. During this stage in your life, it’s important to keep active; you may need to work extra hard to keep your strength and stay in shape. If Jada Pinkett Smith’s mother can do it, so can we.