Facts on Menopause
Menopause marks the end of a woman's fertility.
Symptoms of menopause include night sweats, hot flashes, mood fluctuations, and cognitive changes.
A reduction in estrogen levels can lead to the symptoms of menopause.
Signs and symptoms
While menopause is not a disease or disorder, it does trigger some profound changes in a woman's body.
A diagnosis of menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. However, the symptoms of menopause generally appear before the end of that one-year period.
Changes to the menstrual pattern are the first noticeable symptoms of menopause. Some women may experience a period every 2 to 3 weeks. Others will not menstruate for months at a time.
Perimenopause is the 3-to-5-year period before menopause.
During the perimenopausal stage, a woman's estrogen levels will drop significantly. This reduces her chances of becoming pregnant.
Dryness, itching, and discomfort of the vagina tend to occur during perimenopause.
As a result, some women may experience dyspareunia, or pain during sex . Women experience this pain due to lowering estrogen levels. These lower levels cause vaginal atrophy.
Vaginal atrophy is an inflammation of the vagina that happens as a result of the thinning and shrinking of the tissues, as well as decreased lubrication.
There are a number of medical treatments and home remedies that can help with symptoms, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and self-management techniques.
A hot flash is a sudden sensation of heat in the upper body. It may start in the face, neck, or chest, and progress upward or downward.
The skin may become red and patchy, and a woman will typically start to sweat. Her heart rate may suddenly increase, strengthen, or become irregular. Hot flashes generally occur during the first year after a woman's final period.
Hot flashes that occur during the sleep cycle are called night sweats. Most women say their hot flashes do not last more than a few minutes.
However, studies have confirmed that moderate-to-severe night sweats and hot flashes may pose a problem for around 10.2 years.
It can be difficult for women to fall asleep and stay asleep as they progress through menopause.
In some cases, night sweats can lead to discomfort during the night and difficulty sleeping. Sleep disturbance may also be caused by insomnia or anxiety.
Menopause can disrupt a woman's urinary cycle.
Women tend to be more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) during menopause, such as cystitis. They may also find that they also need to visit the toilet more often.
Women can experience depression and low mood during menopause.
Hormonal changes can often trigger depressed feelings and mood swings. In many cases, these emotional symptoms also go hand-in-hand with sleep disturbance.
Women may also experience low libido, or sex drive, as a result of these emotional changes.
Problems focusing and learning
Menopause can affect cognitive functions, such as concentration.
Some women may also experience short-term memory problems and difficulty focusing for long periods.
Other symptoms of menopause include:
a buildup of fat in the abdomen, sometimes leading to overweight and obesity
hair loss and thinning hair
Without treatment, symptoms usually taper off over a period of 2 to 5 years. However, symptoms can persist for longer. In some cases, vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort can become chronic and eventually get worse without treatment.
Menopause can lead to the development of complications, including:
Cardiovascular disease: A drop in estrogen levels has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Osteoporosis: A woman may lose bone density rapidly during the first few years after menopause. Low bone density leads to a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
Urinary incontinence: Menopause causes the tissues of the vagina and urethra to lose their elasticity. This can result in frequent, sudden, and overwhelming urges to urinate. These urges can be followed by involuntary loss of urine. Women may involuntarily urinate after coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting during menopause.
Breast cancer: Women face a higher risk of breast cancer following menopause. Regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk.