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What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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