5 Symptoms of Menopause
The menopause is the stage in a woman's life when her ovaries stop producing eggs and monthly periods become irregular and eventually stop. The ovaries make the hormone oestrogen, so when they stop functioning there is a drop in the levels of oestrogen in a woman's blood. This fall in hormone level disrupts the menstrual cycle and causes symptoms of menopause. The process happens gradually and is preceded by the perimenopause, where periods can become more irregular and can last for up to four years. To read more about the perimenopause see our blog article here.
Symptoms of menopause will usually only last for two to five years before disappearing, although in some cases such as vaginal dryness, symptoms can persist as you get older. Here are another five menopause symptoms to watch out for:
1. Changes in Menstrual Cycle
Menopause occurs when periods stop, however it is unusual for monthly cycles to finish all of a sudden. Most commonly, the menstrual cycle becomes irregular with heavier and longer periods. Monthly cycles may even go away for a few months, only to return with a vengeance. This may continue for a few years. When it has been a year since a woman's last period, only then is she seen to have been through the menopause.
2. Hot Flushes and Night Sweats
A hot flush is a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the body, creating a flushing, that is noticeable on the face and upper body. Hot flushes can last from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Some women may also feel a change in heart rate with it becoming either very rapid or irregular and stronger than usual. Hot flushes are the most common in the first year of your final period.
Night sweats are severe hot flushes that happen at night and are accompanied by extreme sweating in menopausal women. Night sweats can range vary from mild to intense and are caused by hormonal imbalances combined with environmental factors, such as a warm sleeping environment. Spicy food, caffeine, alcohol and a warm environment may trigger hot flushes so try to adjust your diet and environment accordingly. Dress in layers and remove some when you feel a flush starting.
3. Difficulty Sleeping
Sleeplessness such as waking up many times during the night, tossing and turning and insomnia are all connected with menopause. Menopausal women may have trouble sleeping because of night sweats, hormonal imbalance or because of anxiety connected to this time. Exercise regularly will help in getting a better night's sleep and the endorphins releases can also ease symptoms of anxiety and stress that are associated with menopause.
4. Vaginal Symptoms
When estrogens levels drop during perimenopause, the vaginal tissues become drier, thinner and less elastic. Women may experience vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort as a result. The lack of lubrication leads to sex becoming uncomfortable, and the vagina is easily irritated which means that it is more prone to infections. Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers can help keep needed moisture in your vagina if used every few days and can make sex more comfortable.
5. Urinary Symptoms
During the menopause, women are more likely to experience urinary tract infection, such as cystitis and urethritis, as a result of low oestrogen levels. Drinking cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections.