Advertisement
Menopause is when there is permanent cessation of the ovarian functions which affects women in their late 40s and early 50s. It signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman's life. The change from being fertile to non-fertile brings about numerous hormonal changes. However, these changes are often not sudden but are spread over a number of years. Normally, no medical intervention is required but help may be required to take care of the accompanying signs and the effects.

Symptoms

The period when the initial signs of menopause begin manifesting is called perimenopause. The duration is different for different women. However, most of the symptoms of menopause last for about 2 to 5 years after onset and improve on their own. In some cases, the transition can be smooth but in others, a woman can face a lot of physical as well as psychological changes and discomforts.

The most common symptom of approaching menopause is irregular menstrual cycle. This is caused due to changes in the reproductive hormones. If the woman has had a regular menstrual cycle, she may notice that the menstrual cycle has now become longer or shorter. In some cases, the menstruation can occur every 2 to 3 weeks and in some cases, it may not happen for 6 to 8 weeks at a length as well. In some cases, the menstrual period symptoms may be seen but the woman may not menstruate. The amount of blood loss during menstruation may also change. It can either become scant or heavy, depending upon the changes which have come about in the body.

After irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes are a symptom which can help to recognize the onset of menopause. This is one of the symptoms for which most women seek treatment. A hot flash is a sudden sensation of warmth or intense heat which spreads to different parts of the body, especially, the face, head and chest. The warmth is followed by flushing and sweating, after which, the woman may experience chills. This condition may be experienced in the first two years after the onset of menopause. Hot flashes lessen over a period of time. Some women may experience hot flashes for many years after menopause has set in as well.

The lining tissues of the vagina become thinner, drier and less elastic which give rise to vaginal changes. This is caused due to fall in the estrogen level. The vaginal symptoms also include vaginal itching, dryness, irritation and/or pain during sexual intercourse. The chances of vaginal infections increase due to the changes. Along with vaginal changes, there are also urinary tract changes. For instance, the vaginal tissues and the lining of the urethra also become drier, less elastic and thinner due to a drop in the estrogen levels. This can also cause urinary tract infection. The woman may want to urinate more often. There can be urinary incontinence which can cause leakage of urine while coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc.

There are some emotional changes which are also brought about. Mood swings are also a premenopausal symptom. The woman may get depressed easily, may be irritable, may become anxious and nervous as a result of hormonal changes which are coming about in the body. Poor sleep and fatigue are perimenopause symptoms which often aggravate the condition. Any additional stress will do more harm to the existing condition.

The most prominent change is weight gain. With age, there is slowing of the metabolism of the body. However, the intake of food may not reduce as expected which leads to increase in weight. Water retention can also lead to weight gain. There can be thinning of hair and/or hair loss which is also among the symptoms.

Among the other premenopause symptoms is difficulty in concentration, disorientation and confusion. There can also be memory lapses, feeling of doom, etc. The woman can be apprehensive all the time. Depression can hit the woman as well.

When the above symptoms are seen, it is important to understand that this is a normal biological process which every woman goes through. Regular diet and exercise will prove to be useful. However, if the woman is not able to cope with the condition, visiting a healthcare professional will be helpful.