Menopause is a transitional phase in a woman’s life which indicates the end of the ovulation period. A woman reaches menopause around her late 40’s or early 50’s. Pre-menopause which indicates the end of the monthly menstrual cycle can affect a woman both physically and psychologically.
Peri – menopause which begins almost a decade before the actual menopause starts, prepares a woman’s body physically for the changes which will take place after the monthly menstrual cycles end.
Nearly 70 percent of women are affected by the symptoms of menopause. While the signs of menopause are the same in almost all women, the intensity of the menopausal symptoms varies from woman to woman. The symptoms of menopause last between two to five years after the cessation of the monthly menstrual cycles.
Let us examine some of the common symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes are one the commonest and earliest symptoms of menopause. During a hot flash the hands and legs become cold and clammy while the upper body and the face experience hot flushes similar to engulfing flames. This effect is caused by vasodilatation.
In nocturnal hyper-hydrosis or night sweats which is more intense than hot flashes a woman approaching menopause perspires profusely during deep sleep. Another sign of approaching menopause is decrease in sex drive. This loss of libido can be attributed to a decrease in sex hormones, dryness in the vagina or even because of intense pain a woman may experience during intercourse.
Most pre-menopausal women complain of vaginal dryness and itching. The low estrogen levels causes the tissues lining the vagina to become dry. The walls of the vagina become thinner and inflexible. Vaginal atrophy is common among menopausal women. Women approaching menopause suffer from menstrual irregularities including frequent periods, shorter periods and lighter blood flow. Sometimes a woman may not have periods for two months followed by heavy menstrual bleeding in the third month.
Women approaching menopause often complain of extreme weakness or tiredness. This vastly impacts their personal relationships and results in frequent mood swings and spells of extreme depression. The hair on the head and the body (including the pubic hair) begins to thin. Most women complain of inability to get good nights sleep. There is an increase in the feeling of disorientation or general confusion.
Stress levels which are normally at an all time high during this period also makes it very difficult for women in this age group to concentrate on any given job for a long period of time. As women approach menopause, they will often complain of a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness which can cause them to lose their balance. Some women complain of frequent memory lapses which can be quite disturbing.
Many women experience a significant weight again during menopause. They also complain of a bloated feeling. Some women also suffer from incontinence especially when they laugh or sneeze suddenly. The body also emanates a stronger odor during this period. There is an increase in negative feelings like anxiety, depression and irritability during this time. Some women complain of rapid heartbeats. As menopause approaches women start to complain of general body pain and tenderness. The bone degenerative disease called osteoporosis sets in at this time.