Menopause signs signal that menopause is close. These signs, usually termed menopausal symptoms, take place in the few months or years preceding menopause. Menopause is a natural process that marks the end of fertility and menstruation in women. It usually occurs between the ages of 48 to 55, although it has become quite common to experience menopausal symptoms as early as 35. These menopause signs are caused by hormonal changes. This article discusses various signs of menopause which will alert a woman to the nearness of menopause. It is noteworthy that although some women may have a smooth transition into menopause, others’ menopause symptoms can affect their physical, emotional and mental well-being. Understanding these symptoms can help women accept and deal with menopause signs, and also arm their families with information so they can offer valuable support.
Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
Changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle is one of the most common menopause signs. It indicates to a woman that she has entered the perimenopause stage, and is usually one of the most definite signs that menopause is a few years away. These changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle can exhibit as a much heavier or much lighter menstrual period than they are used to. The menstrual period can take a longer or shorter number of days each month than the norm. Most commonly, however, women skip a number of months of their menstrual period. Some women mistakenly assume that they are pregnant when they first start experiencing these symptoms. A woman usually skips just a few months. Once a woman has gone 12 months without a period, then it is assumed that she has reached menopause.
The Occasional Hot Flash
Hot flashes are a perimenopausal symptom that displays as an intense feeling of heat in the body, which is usually followed by a red flush on the face and chest. Hot flashes can last anywhere from 2 minutes to half an hour. Hot flashes are also a common menopause sign, with up to 75% of women in menopause affected by this symptom. Before the onset of menopause, a woman may experience the occasional hot flash, which may signal that menopause is near. These hot flashes may be accompanied by heavy sweating and heart palpitations.
Changes in Your Mood
A woman’s mood changes can change drastically during the period preceding menopause. A woman who has always been even tempered and in control may find that she has intense mood swings that can be detrimental to her and the people that she communicates with on a regular basis. These mood swings are similar (to a lesser degree though) to bipolar disorder, where the sufferer is deliriously happy one minute, and the very next is in a fit of rage. A woman may also find that her temper and irritability are easily triggered by stimuli that would not have bothered her before.
Changes in Your Sleep Pattern
Some women experience changes in sleep patterns as a sign of menopause. These changes include a failure to fall asleep at the regular sleeping time, or running out of sleep in the middle of the night for hours at a time. As a result, a woman may suffer from fatigue during the day because she is not getting enough sleep at night. She may also be more irritable, and have other emotional problems like depression as a direct result of lack of sleep.
Heart palpitations are experienced by some women as a menopause sign. When a woman has a heart palpitation, the heart seems to be beating much faster than usual. Heart palpitations usually accompany hot flashes. If they don’t, however, a woman should speak to her doctor about the possibility of heart disease.
Vaginal dryness in menopausal women is caused by lower levels of estrogen in the body. This hormone is responsible for keeping the vaginal tissues moist. It also helps in keeping these tissues thick and elastic. Without this hormone, a woman’s vagina becomes dry, less elastic and thinner than usual. Vaginal dryness makes intercourse painful or uncomfortable, and may also lead to lower libido because of the pain the woman knows she will experience. This symptom is more common in the few years preceding menopause.
Extreme fatigue is a common sign of menopause, and it can last up to a few months. It is believed that the body is trying to adjust to sudden fluctuations of estrogen in the body, and this may lead to extreme tiredness all the time. Changes in sleep patterns, or insomnia, often make this unbearable symptom even worse.
A number of psychological symptoms are associated with menopause. The most prevalent of these is memory problems. These memory problems are associated with short-term memory loss where women have a hard time remembering names and faces of people they have just met, or remembering where they left the car keys. They may also forget important appointments. Memory problems are also linked to what is termed brain fog – which is a lack of mental clarity and attention during menopause. Research studies confirm that this menopause sign has a higher prevalence in women who experience severe hot flashes and negative moods.
Loss of libido
A loss of libido, or lower sexual desire, can also be attributed to menopause in some women. This menopause sign is usually linked to other symptoms like fatigue, depression, vaginal dryness or sleep problems. As a result of lower or fluctuating production of estrogen and progesterone hormones, a woman may lose her sexual desire completely. These hormones are not only responsible for a woman’s fertility, but also for her sexual desire. Therefore, lower levels of these hormones could adversely affect her libido.
Depression during menopause is sometimes linked to severe mood swings. In some cases, however, the onset of depression may lead to a feeling of prolonged sadness and regret over life’s choices. A woman suffering from this symptom may stop enjoying the things she used to, withdraw from her normal life as much as possible and may, more often than not, think about dying. This menopause sign can also be brought about by various life changes that take place during menopause, for example, children leaving the home and the death of a spouse.