Menopause is one of those things that you simply cannot avoid. It happens to every woman when the ovaries start to go through changes, and the production of certain hormones starts to decline. For many healthy women, menopause starts around the time they turn 52, but symptoms can develop a while before you are actually in menopause. You’re considered menopausal if you haven’t had a period in 12 months. Let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms that signal the onset of menopause.
What Happens During Menopause?
Menopause is a biological process that every woman will go through. It happens when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. Additionally, when you are entering menopause, you will also stop having periods. Menopause marks the period when you are no longer fertile. It usually happens in your early 50s, but some women start to experience symptoms while they are still in their 40s.
During menopause, there are hormonal changes that happen in your body. This includes a reduction in progesterone and estrogen production, which can lead to the development of several symptoms. Once you go through the menopausal period, you are postmenopausal. At this time, the symptoms may start to subdue, but some people still experience adverse effects.
Understanding the Symptoms of Menopause
Symptoms associated with menopause can start to develop years before you go through this biological process. That is why you should acknowledge yourself with potential symptoms that signal perimenopause and the start of this period in your life. We are going to look at some of the symptoms that you may experience.
1. Irregular Periods
Periods become irregular. You may notice that you miss some of your periods, which is normal during menopause. As you go through menopause, you will permanently stop having periods eventually.
2. Changes in Your Mood
Hormonal changes in your body can affect your mind, including your mood. It’s not uncommon for women going through menopause to have sudden shifts in their mood. You may go from angry to sad in a matter of seconds, for example.
3. Hot Flashes
One of the most common symptoms among women who are perimenopausal or going through menopause includes hot flashes. You may feel hot suddenly. In some cases, you may also start to sweat. The symptom is usually most noticeable in your chest, neck, and face.
4. Tenderness or Soreness in Your Breasts
In the earlier stages of menopause, it’s also common to experience some tenderness in your breasts. Some women also report that they have soreness in their breasts. This may be due to the hormonal changes that happen during menopause.
5. Night Sweats
If you experience a hot flash at night, then it usually causes night sweats. This can leave you waking up in a pool of sweat and may also potentially interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
As your estrogen levels start to decline, it’s possible to experience headaches. These headaches can come and go unexpectedly since hormonal changes during menopause will often be unpredictable.
7. Extremities Feel Tingly
When your hormone levels fluctuate, it’s possible that your central nervous system can be affected in the process. This can sometimes lead to a tingling sensation in your extremities, such as your legs and arms.
8. Low Libido
Sex hormones, the ones that tend to fluctuate and eventually decline with menopause, play an important role in stimulating your libido, also known as your sex drive. Thus, during this period of your life, it is also possible to experience low libido as part of your symptoms.
9. Vaginal Dryness
A low level of these sex hormones can also result in poorer circulation in the regions surrounding your vagina. It can also affect natural lubrication, resulting in dryness. Penetration can thus result in irritation and pain.
10. Poor Concentration
Your mind can be affected in different ways as you go through menopause. Apart from mood changes, many people also report that they have difficulty concentrating and paying attention.
11. Sleep-Related Problems
You may notice that you have a difficult time falling asleep at night, especially if coupled with depression, anxiety, and mood problems. Night sweats can also result in frequently waking up at night.
12. Weight Gain
Your physical activity and dietary habits may change because of the hormonal disruptions that have on your physical and mental health. These factors can result in weight gain, putting you at risk of overweight and obesity.
13. Memory Problems
Your mind may start to feel foggy when hormonal changes affect your neurotransmitters. In turn, this can result in poor memory. You may have a difficult time recalling memories. Memory lapses are also not uncommon.
As your hormones continue to fluctuate, it’s sometimes possible for these effects to trigger depression. It’s sometimes possible for the depression to be temporary, although some women may go on to require treatment even when they are postmenopausal.
15. Joint Pain
Inflammation can happen when the amount of estrogen hormones circulating in your body decreases. Estrogen also plays a role in the lubrication of joints. As estrogen declines, it’s possible to start experiencing joint-related pain.
16. Changes in Digestion and Metabolism
It is also possible for your gut flora to change during menopause. This can affect your digestion and how your body digests some types of foods.
Fatigue is another relatively common symptom during menopause, which can make you feel spaced out and become an obstacle to your ability to go through with your day-to-day activities.
18. Development of Allergies
During menopause, there are some cases where women notice the development of new allergies. If you have existing allergy symptoms, then it’s possible for them to become worse at this point too.
19. Hair Becomes Thin
When there are fluctuations in ovarian hormones, it is possible for hair follicles to shrink. This can result in hair loss. Some women rather report finding that their hair starts to become thinner.
20. Anxiety Symptoms
Apart from depression, there are also situations where women start to notice signs of anxiety. Many women report that these anxiety symptoms tend to be at their worst during the night.
21. Unexpected Body Odors
If you have night sweats and hot flashes on a regular basis, then you may start to notice unpleasant body Odors too. This is mostly due to the increased perspiration that happens during these events.
22. Brittle Nails
There are cases where keratin production declines during menopause. When this happens, you may start to notice that your nails become brittle and weak. This is due to the important role that keratin plays in the structure of nails.
23. Feeling Irritable
As you have trouble concentrating, memory problems, and perhaps even depression, these feelings can quickly build up and make you feel irritable as you traverse the menopausal journey.
24. Panic Disorder and Related Symptoms
Some people may have mild anxiety while going through menopause. For others, however, the mental impact may be more severe, resulting in problems like panic disorder. Panic attacks tend to happen suddenly, and they are usually not expected.
There are cases where women feel dizzy while they go through menopause. One of the most common causes for this symptom is an alteration in insulin production, which can have an impact on your blood glucose levels.
26. Skin Itching
Hormones like estrogen have a role to play when it comes to the production of collagen, an essential element that is involved in skin health. Additionally, the hormone also helps to keep your skin hydrated. Thus, lower levels of estrogen can affect skin health and result in dryness. In cases like this, you are likely to find that your skin feels itchy.
27. Muscle Aches and Pain
Since estrogen helps to keep inflammation in check, during menopause, it’s possible to experience inflammatory responses in your muscles. This may be more noticeable if you work out. In turn, you may start to notice aches and pains in your muscles.
28. Muscle Tension
Apart from aching muscles, some women also find that their muscles feel tense and stiff. This is likely due to the increased inflammation that you may experience during this time in your life.
29. Alteration in Taste
While not the most common symptom of menopause, there are scenarios where women note changes in the sense of taste they have. For example, certain flavors may taste much stronger than before.
30. Tenderness or Burning in Your Mouth
When your estrogen levels decline, then mucus hormones present in your mouth can also start to decrease. Some of these hormones have receptors for estrogen. As a result, some women complain about a burning or tender sensation in their mouths.
31. Daytime Sleepiness
When you can’t get enough sleep at night due to things like night sweats and depression, then your body doesn’t have enough time to recuperate and prepare for the next day. This can leave you feeling tired during the day.
32. Incontinence and Other Urinary Symptoms
It is possible that the hormonal fluctuations that happen during menopause to also affect the muscles in your pelvis and the bladder. If this happens, these muscles become weaker, which can lead to a consistent urge to urinate.
If a reduction in estrogen production affects your bone density, then it’s possible to develop osteoporosis too. Some women may experience reduced bone density without developing osteoporosis.
34. Heartbeat Irregularities
An irregular heartbeat can also happen as you go through menopause. In some women, this symptom continues after the menopause period.
Treatments and Home Remedies
One important thing that you need to understand is the fact that you can counter many of the symptoms that come with menopause. It’s important to recognize when you are perimenopausal. These symptoms can start to set in years before you enter menopause and can still feel unpleasant.
A good starting point is to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about perimenopause and menopause. They can perform a few tests and will ask you about your symptoms. Your doctor will also discuss the frequency of your periods with you.
In some cases, hormone therapy is a good option to help counter the symptoms you may experience at this point in your life. Research has shown that hormonal contraceptives during this period can help to reduce uterine bleeding and protect against the development of mood disorders. Overall, these therapies may contribute to improved quality of life.
There are also certain vitamins that may be helpful in reducing certain symptoms. As hormones in your body change, it can have an impact on serotonin levels. A supplement that contains vitamin B6 may be helpful in stabilizing the availability of this neurotransmitter in your brain. It has been found that low levels of iron and vitamin B6 may contribute to a decline in serotonin levels.
Other than this, consider the following remedies to help you cope with some of the changes and symptoms that menopause can bring along:
If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider reducing how much caffeine you use and exercising regularly. Try getting into a routine at night, as this can also help you form a habit that makes you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality over time.
Pelvic exercises can also be a great help if you are having trouble with your urinary control. These exercises focus on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and may also help with bowel movements.
When participating in sexual activities, use a good lubricant. This can help to counter vaginal dryness, which is common during menopause.
If you are entering menopause, there are several symptoms that you may experience. The exact period in life for menopause is not always the same for every woman. By understanding the symptoms, you can consider initiating certain treatments and home remedies early on, which can help to reduce the impact that the entire process has on your life.