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What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

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What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

The symptoms of menopause are different for every woman.

The word meno- comes from the Greek word for “month”, while the word -pause comes from the Greek word pausis meaning “stop,” or “pause.” Menopause is characterized by the cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycles for at least one year, and although the average age is 51, menopause can occur in the 30s for some women, and for others, it won’t happen until much later, in their 60s.

Every woman experiences menopause differently: she might experience hot flashes for a while, and they may disappear. She may experience a whole range of symptoms or hardly any at all. This list includes the more typical symptoms of menopause, but is by no means exhaustive.

Be sure to check with your doctor if you have questions.

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Perimenopause

Menopause is something that doesn’t happen overnight. When a woman begins to experience symptoms, but still has menstrual cycles, she is in perimenopause; a gradual process leading up to menopause itself.

Women in perimenopause may experience symptoms that can last up to ten years before the true onset of menopause. Since every woman is different, this process could be much shorter or even longer.

Irregular Menstrual Cycles

One of the hallmark symptoms of perimenopause is that menstrual cycles become irregular. Within those cycles, bleeding can be very light or very heavy, and can change from month to month. A woman might not have periods every month.

If you are suddenly experiencing irregular periods, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure it is, in fact, perimenopause and not another underlying medical condition.

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Hot Flashes

Many women will experience hot flashes in their perimenopausal years: these are sudden sensations of feeling very warm that can last from around 30 seconds to several minutes. As these flashes generally occur around the face and chest area, sometimes women will also perspire and/or blush as they happen.

So far, doctors are unable to pinpoint what exactly causes them or what makes women susceptible to their occurrence. They do usually happen less frequently over time, with most women reporting they no longer get them after five to ten years.

Night Sweats

Just as a woman can experience hot flashes, she might also wake up suddenly in the night drenched in sweat. When this occurs, it can be difficult to go back to sleep or get comfortable, and that can contribute to fatigue and irritability the next day.

Vaginal Dryness

The vaginal area may become less elastic, accompanied by a sensation of dryness due to lower levels of estrogen. Painful intercourse can also occur, as well as itching and general discomfort in that area. Unfortunately, these conditions can also make a woman more prone to vaginal infections.

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Symptoms in the Urinary Tract

Changes with the urinary tract happen in a similar manner: the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body), gets drier and tighter, and as a result, a woman might feel like she needs to use the restroom more frequently.  She might even experience a certain amount of urinary incontinence, where she “leaks” while standing, laughing or sneezing. These factors contribute to an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

Emotional Symptoms

A number of women will experience mood swings ranging from contentedness all the way to emotional upset, and it’s the changes in hormone levels that are to blame. Accompanying the mood swings, many women feel fatigued, due in part to the other symptoms of menopause, which can then lead to more severe mood swings.

Changes in Memory and Thinking

Because hormone levels are changing, women sometimes report they can’t remember things as well and feel downright forgetful. They may feel groggy or unable to concentrate, especially if they are already feeling tired or exhausted.

Other Symptoms

Other women experience physical changes such as tender breasts, achy or sore joints, itchy skin, weight gain, depression, thinning hair, hair growth in undesirable areas, tingling in the hands or feet, ringing in the ears, chronic indigestion, headaches, and more.

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Also, once menopause occurs, women need to watch out for osteoporosis in the years following. Low hormone levels accelerate bone loss and it’s important to be proactive about maintaining healthy bone density. Heart disease is another symptom that can creep up in post-menopausal women. Regular medical checkups are crucial to help prevent both osteoporosis and heart problems.

Treatments

While it’s important to know and understand menopausal symptoms, you don’t have to endure them in silence. Enlist the help of your physician and talk to friends or family about your experiences. In this way, you can approach menopause armed with information and reduce bothersome symptoms that might otherwise interfere with your life. There are many treatments out there that can really improve any symptoms you may have.

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Cyndi Calhoun

Cyndi is a passionate writer who writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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