Menopause: More Than Hot Flashes…
Menopause marks the end of reproduction, is defined as 12 consecutive months without menstruation, and the best-known symptom of menopause are hot flashes. Hot flashes that happen at night accompanied by sweating are called night sweats. They tend to disrupt sleep and may start during perimenopause. Women who don’t get enough sleep may have problems with mood, concentration, memory, and performance.
But women going through the menopause transition can experience many other symptoms besides hot flashes!
The time leading up to menopause is called perimenopause and many women may start experiencing symptoms as early as 40 years of age. Hormone levels change and affect the menstrual cycles, some becoming shorter, others longer. Bleeding may become lighter or heavier, and some women may experience spotting, which is bleeding between periods.
During perimenopause hormone fluctuations may cause mood swings, with some women experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, feeling happy and blue within hours, or having crying spells apparently without cause. These feelings may wreak havoc on relationships and it’s important that friends, partners, and family members know and understand what women go through in order to provide support and understanding, both of which are much needed at this time in a women’s life.
Fluctuating or low hormone levels may also affect bladder function. Some women may experience urgency (a sudden, compelling urge to urinate) or leakage, the inability to hold urine in the bladder because voluntary control over the urinary sphincter is either lost or weakened.
Other common symptoms of menopause are bloating and alternate constipation or diarrhea in addition to nausea and/or gas.
The tissues of the vagina are sensitive to estrogen, and after menopause, when the levels of estrogen drop, women may experience vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse. Some women may also experience itching and burning. Low levels of estrogen have a drying effect on other organs such as the skin, mouth, and eyes. The skin loses elasticity and wrinkles become more prominent. Some women get itchy skin and nails also become drier. Hair may become brittle and start to fall out.
Around menopause women may complain more of aching joints, especially in the hands, which can be linked to lower estrogen levels. Some women also experience soreness in muscles and even headaches.
Some of these symptoms may also be cause by medical conditions; it is important that you consult your physician to know more about your health.
For more information on menopause symptoms contact me.
Teresa Isabel Dias
BSc Pharm, RPh, NCMP
Pharmacist and Certified Menopause Practitioner
Visit my website www.menopausED.org to learn more about menopause and book a consultation
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