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Menopause: Identifying Symptoms

Menopause: Identifying Symptoms


4 minute read

The “change of life” is an experience that all women will face as they reach a certain age. Menopause marks the transition from the reproductive and child rearing years to a more time more focused on personal and intellectual growth. 

Unfortunately, menopause is often seen as less of a chance for growth and renewal and more of an uncomfortable reminder of the aging process. A healthier menopause experience starts with a better understanding of the process. 

 

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural and biological transition that occurs for all women as they age. It marks the end of a woman’s fertile period. 

Hormone level shifts are at the heart of the menopause process. Estrogen and progesterone begin to diminish which leads to fewer or more irregular periods. After menopause, you can no longer become pregnant as the ovaries stop releasing eggs and the uterus stops preparing its lining for a pregnancy.

Menopause is considered an important change in a woman’s life as she enters a new phase. During this time, it is important to maintain good habits and keep your health in check. While many women dread this transition, there is much to be learned and even enjoyed through the menopause experience. 

 

What is the Menopause Age?

You are officially in menopause after one full year without a menstrual period. The average age for entering menopause is 52 for American women, but any age between 45 and 58 is considered normal.

There are a few factors that can impact when your body enters menopause.

Family history: Many women are likely to follow in their mother’s footsteps and go through menopause around the same age.

Number of Children: Those who never had children are likely to start menopause earlier than women who had children, especially those who had multiple pregnancies.

Smoking: Women who smoke are also more likely to start menopause an average of two years earlier than those who do not. 

Body Mass Index: Since estrogen is stored in fat, those with a low body mass index (BMI) tend to start menopause sooner due to less fat stores, and therefore less estrogen. A vegetarian diet also corresponds to earlier menopause.

Sedentary Lifestyle: Those who have sedentary lives and do not exercise tend to experience menopause sooner. 

Cancer or Reproductive Illness: Premature menopause occurs when a woman shifts into menopause before age 40. This is a common occurrence in women who underwent chemotherapy or had surgery to remove the ovaries. 

 menopause symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Menopause

While there are some hallmark signs of menopause, this transition unfolds differently for each woman and the shift occurs over time. 

Common menopause symptoms include:

  • Brain fog
  • Changes in libido
  • Constipation
  • Cramping
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Excess bleeding
  • Fever or sweating
  • Generalized pain
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability, rage, anger
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and bloating
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rash or skin dryness
  • Slow metabolism, weight gain
  • Vaginal discharge or odors
  • Vaginal pain or dryness
  • Vertigo and dizziness
  • Yeast infections and vaginal itching

Menopause Symptoms

The Most Common Menopausal Symptoms

Hot Flashes in Menopause: Up to 75% of women in perimenopause and menopause report experiencing hot flashes. Mild hot flashes are a normal part of menopause, but for some women they can become debilitating. These sudden, intense feeling of heat and overwhelm can occur at any time and can bring with them feelings of nausea, anxiety, irritability, and discomfort. 

Night Sweats with Menopause: Night sweats occur when the body’s temperature drastically raises at night, resulting in a drenched sweat to release this excess heat. Night sweats are not only inconvenient, they wreak havoc on sleep quality. Poor sleep can lead to even more severe hormone imbalances, stress, and a worsening of other symptoms. 

Menopause and Weight Gain: As we age, our metabolism begins to slow. This is due to a slow decline in our natural energy as well as hormone imbalances. For the menopausal woman, this is a recipe for weight gain, excess belly fat, and fatigue. 

Mood Swings from Menopause: Mood shifts are a natural symptom of fluctuating hormone levels, especially during menopause. These mood shifts can cause new or worsening anxiety, irritability, anger, and even rage. Some women may experience a lack of motivation, depression, or feel like they are emotionally numb. 

Menopause: A Beautiful Transition

 

Menopause is a complex biological transition that is a natural part of the aging process. From hormone fluctuations to body changes and even shifts in attitude and beliefs, menopause can be the mark of a new body – and a new era for each woman. What may seem simply biological has the deeper power to offer a woman a fresh start, renewal, and a new sense of self.

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