I’ve spent my entire adult life filling out forms. From…
Just like puberty, menopause is a normal part of life.
It is really the end of a long, slow process. When you are in your mid-30’s, your ovaries begin to change how much estrogen and progesterone, two female hormones, they make. These are both important for normal menstrual cycles and successful pregnancy. Estrogen helps to keep bones healthy. It may also have an effect on cholesterol levels in your blood, help keep skin and arteries more elastic, and possibly help memory.
Although very rare before the age of 40, menapause can happen anytime from your 30’s to your mid-50’s or even later. Smokers often begin menopause earlier than non-smokers. If you have both ovaries removed (bilateral oophorectomy) during a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), you may have the symptoms of menopause right away, no matter your age. Once your uterus is removed, your periods will stop.
Some of the hormone-related stages in your life are:
This is the age when body changes begin and breasts develop. A young girl begins to have a monthly period, often around 12-1/2 years of age.
This probably begins about 3 to 5 years before your last menstrual period. It lasts until 12 months after your final period. Some signs or symptoms of menopause may appear during this time.
The event that marks menopause is your final menstrual period. You will know for sure that you have experienced menopause when you have not had a period in a year. Only then can you be sure that you are no longer able to get pregnant.
Because this time follows menopause, it begins with your final period and lasts the rest of your life. Like menopause, you do not know you are there until 1 year later. The signs of menopause usually go away in a few years. You no longer have to worry about periods or getting pregnant. You are, however, at greater risk for some health problems
What Are The Signs Of Menopause?
Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause a variety of symptoms.
You may have little or no trouble with hot flashes or other signs of menopause. Some women, however, have slight discomfort or worse. Common changes you might have are:
Irregular periods. One of the first signs is a change in your periods . They may become less regular. They could be lighter. Some women have short times of heavy bleeding. These are all fairly common. Very heavy bleeding for many days, periods less than 3 weeks apart, periods that last longer than ten days, or spotting between periods may also happen. Check with your doctor if you find any of this troublesome.
Hot flashes :- A hot flash or flush is common in perimenopause. Possibly eighty percent of American women have them. Suddenly you feel heat in the upper part or all of your body. Your face and neck become flushed. Red blotches may appear on your chest, back, and arms. Heavy sweating and cold shivering can follow. Flashes can be as mild as a light blush or severe enough to wake you from a sound sleep (called night sweats). Most flashes last 30 seconds to 5 minutes. They should disappear within a few years after menopause.
Problems with the vagina and bladder . Body tissue in the genital area becomes drier and thinner as estrogen levels change. Sexual intercourse might become painful for you because of this dryness. You might also be more likely to have an infection in your vagina . As you get older, you may begin to have urinary tract problems. These could be more urinary tract infections , trouble holding urine when you feel the need to go to the bathroom (urge incontinence), or problems holding urine when you sneeze, cough, laugh, run, or step down (stress incontinence). If you have any of these problems, see your doctor.
Sex :- Until you have gone 1 year without a period, you should still use birth control if you do not want to become pregnant. Around the time of menopause, your feelings about sex might change . You might have trouble becoming sexually aroused because of hormone changes, discomfort due to changes in the vagina, or medicines you are taking. Or, you might feel freer and sexier after menopause–relieved that pregnancy is no longer a worry. Remember that after menopause you can still get sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
Fatigue and sleep problems . Feeling tired is another common symptom. You might have trouble getting to sleep, waking early, or getting back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. Women may be awakened by night sweats or the need to go to the bathroom.
Mood changes :- Some people think that women may be more moody, irritable, or depressed around the time of menopause. There might be a connection between changes in the estrogen level and your emotions. Other causes for these mood shifts might be stress , family changes such as children leaving home, and feeling tired.
Changes in your body . Visible changes with menopause may include a thickening at the waist, loss of muscle mass and increase in fat tissue, or thinning and loss of stretchiness in the skin.
Other possible signs :- Some women may experience headaches , memory problems, and joint and muscle stiffness or pain.