Every woman undergoes menopause at some point in her life. The average age of menopause is 51 years of age but it can occur as young as 30 or at age 60. If you have menopausal symptoms prior to that, it is known as premature menopause. The exact definition of menopause is the cessation of menstrual periods for a consecutive 12 months.
Symptoms of Menopause
While some women can slip through menopause with no symptoms or subtle symptoms. Others will have debilitating symptoms requiring some form of medical treatment.
Common medical symptoms include the following:
- Hot flashes—a sensation of bodily warmth that comes out of nowhere and that can be associated with facial flushing or sweating. Hot flashes tend to come and go, lasting anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 minutes.
- Night sweats—this involves waking up at night, usually drenched in sweat. Night sweats may simply be hot flashes that come on while you are sleeping.
- Mood swings—this can involve increased irritability, depressive symptoms, or symptoms of anxiety.
- Vaginal dryness—this is the result of a lack of estrogen produced by the ovaries that thins the vaginal mucosa making it drier. It is usually associated with pain on intercourse.
- Decreased libido
- Increase in skin dryness and thinning of the hair.
- Urinary tract symptoms—this can include an increase in bladder infections or urinary incontinence that is in part due to the thinning of the mucosal lining of the urethra, which is the tube that exits the bladder and leads to the outside.
- Osteoporosis—the lack of estrogen accelerates bone loss to the point where the bones can become brittle and you have an increased risk of fractures should you fall. Fractures can also occur spontaneously and unrelated to a fall. This is especially in the case of vertebral fractures.
- Insomnia—this can occur even if you don’t have any hot flashes and is related to the hormonal changes associated with menopause.
Coping with Menopause
If menopausal symptoms become too difficult to manage, there are many things you can do to alleviate the symptoms so you feel better while going through this inevitable change.