What Are The Symptoms of Menopause?
What Are The Symptoms of Menopause?
- Hot flashes - These are also known as hot flushes, are a sudden, transient sensation of warmth or heat that spreads over the body, creating a flushing, or redness, that is particularly noticeable on the face and upper body. The experience of hot flashes can range between delicate flushes and a sensation of engulfing flames. Hot flashes result from the body's reaction to a decreased supply of the hormone estrogen, which occurs naturally as women approach menopause. Not all women experience hot flashes, but more than half do. For some women, estrogen production decreases gradually, producing fewer hot flashes. But for others, the ovaries stop estrogen production more abruptly; for these women, hot flashes can be a rollercoaster ride. About 75 to 85% of American women are estimated to experience hot flashes during menopause.
- Night sweats - They are classified as severe hot flashes that occur during sleep accompanied by intense bouts of sweating. Also known as “sleep hyperhidrosis”, night sweats aren't actually a sleep disorder, but a common perspiration disorder that occurs during sleep in menopausal women. These episodes of nighttime sweating can range in severity from mild to intense, and can be caused by hormonal imbalance combined with environmental factors, such as an excessively warm sleeping environment For many women, the experience of night sweats is so severe that it disrupts sleep, and it may increase irritability and stress in a woman's waking life. Night sweats can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, so it is important to get to the root of the issue before seeking treatment options.
- Irregular Periods - Most women will experience absent, short, or irregular periods at some point in their lives. A wide range of conditions can cause irregular periods, though during perimenopause the most common cause is hormonal imbalance. Periods may come earlier or later than before; bleeding may be lighter or heavier than usual; and periods may be brief or go on for what feels like an eternity. Skipping periods and “spotting” - bleeding between periods - are also common symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Menstrual irregularity is most common in a woman in her mid-40's as she approaches menopause; the most likely cause of this is hormonal imbalance caused by decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone. Irregular periods could also be caused by other medical conditions or even pregnancy.
- Libido Loss - Everyone experiences peaks and valleys in sexual desire, an ebb and flow in libido that could be caused by any of a variety of factors. However, for women going through menopause, this sudden drop in desire for sexual activity or intimacy can be troubling. In menopausal women, the main cause of low sex drive is hormonal imbalance, predominantly androgen deficiency. Loss of libido can also be caused by other menopause symptoms themselves, such as vaginal dryness or depression, or by prescription drugs, including medication prescribed to treat menopause symptoms. It is important not to confuse sexual desire with sexual function. This article will deal with the loss of libido, or the hormonal and emotional reasons behind low sex drive in menopausal women.
- Mood Swings - Menopausal mood swings are surprisingly common, but can be hard to cope with. A woman experiencing mood swings may feel like she is on a rollercoaster of emotions: one minute she's up, the next minute she's down. Mood swings can be sudden and intense, although the experience of them may differ from woman to woman. Chronic and severe mood swings are a psychological disorder, a health problem every bit as real as a physical ailment. They are caused primarily by hormonal imbalances; when production of the hormone estrogen drops, so too does the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, resulting in mood swings. Other menopause symptoms can also have a negative influence on mood, such as fatigue. Therefore, targeting the underlying hormonal imbalance is one of the most effective ways of reducing menopausal mood swings.
- Fatigue, one of the most common menopause symptoms, is defined as an ongoing and persistent feeling of weakness, tiredness, and lowered energy levels, rather than just sleepiness or drowsiness. Other characteristics of fatigue may include apathy, irritability, and decreased attention span. Crashing fatigue is a phenomenon which comes on suddenly, leaving a woman devoid of energy and unable to continue her activity. Fatigue in menopause is caused by hormonal changes; hormones such as estrogen regulate energy use at a cellular level, so when hormone levels drops during menopause, so too do energy levels. Chronic fatigue in menopause can have a drastic impact on daily life, putting a strain on relationships, work productivity, and quality of life, so treating the underlying hormonal imbalance is essential to restore energy levels.
- Hair loss, one of the most physically noticeable menopause symptoms, is caused by estrogen deficiency, because hair follicles need estrogen to sustain hair growth. Hair loss may be sudden or gradual, or manifest as thinning hair on the head or other parts of the body, including the pubic area. Hair may also become drier and more brittle, and may fall out more while brushing or in the shower. Gradual hair loss or thinning of hair without any accompanying symptoms is common; however, for many women this symptom is upsetting, as it is a visible sign of aging. There are ways to treat the underlying hormonal imbalance in order to halt hair loss during menopause. However, hair loss that is accompanied by general poor health requires the attention of a doctor.
- Sleep Disorders - Waking many times during the night, tossing and turning, and insomnia, are all sleep disorders connected with menopause. Women going through menopause may find that their sleep is less restful and that getting to sleep becomes increasingly difficult. Research indicates that women begin to experience restless sleep as many as five to seven years before entering menopause. In the past, doctors believed that interrupted sleep was a consequence of night sweats, but recent studies indicate that problems with sleep are not always necessarily connected to other menopause symptoms. Sleep disorders are a symptom of menopause in their own right, but it is important for a woman to distinguish if her unique sleep disorder is actually caused by hormonal imbalance, or if there is another factor behind it.
- Difficulty Concentrating - In the lead-up to menopause, many women are concerned to find they have trouble remembering things, experience mental blocks, or have difficulty concentrating. This can be confusing or worrying for women, and can have a big impact on all aspects of daily life. The main reason why these symptoms occur during menopause is hormonal imbalance, specifically estrogen deficiency. However, not getting enough sleep or sleep disruptions can also contribute to memory problems and cause difficulty concentrating, as well as the nagging pain of other physiological menopause symptoms. After underlying medical conditions have been ruled out as a cause of disorientation, confusion, or lack of concentration, then it is important to check hormone levels. Targeting and treating the underlying hormonal imbalance will help a woman overcome difficulty concentrating.
- Memory Lapses - Women approaching menopause often complain of memory loss, memory lapses, and an inability to concentrate. Misplaced car keys, skipped appointments, forgotten birthdays, and missed trains of thought might seem like trivial occurrences, but these can be extremely distressing for women who have never missed a beat before. However, these memory lapses are a normal symptom of menopause, associated with low levels of estrogen and with high stress levels. Memory loss affects most people in one way or another, and more often than not, it is only a momentary memory lapse; however, when memory lapses begin to become a regular occurrence, it is wise to seek medical advice to treat the causes, like hormonal imbalance, stress, or other more serious conditions
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