Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
Is it menopause?
The symptoms of menopause encompass a wide range of
experiences and are not really clear. A whole host of mind and
body changes take place. Because of the age at which they occur,
about 50, it is sometimes difficult to tell what is due to aging and
what it specifically attributable to menopause. Usually, symptoms
are considered to be menopausal symptoms when they tend to
occur in women more than men, and also occur in surgically or
medically menopausal women.
Not all women will experience all or even most of the symptoms
listed below. Rather, these are the symptoms most commonly
reported by menopausal women and may be related to declining
hormone levels. Although it may seem easy to attribute these
symptoms directly to menopause, it is possible that some of them
may have other causes. This is especially true with the more
general symptoms. Check with your doctor if you experience any of
the symptoms, just to be sure.
The most famous menopausal symptoms, hot flashes, can be
categorized with other vasomotor symptoms. In addition to hot
flashes, a woman may experience sweats, chills, flushes, dizziness
or wooziness, or palpitations. All of these symptoms are related to
the constriction of blood vessels.
Women may experience sleep disruptions. These disruptions can
take many forms, including insomnia, trouble falling asleep, trouble
staying asleep, or multiple awakenings during the night.
Many women notice genital, urinary, and sexual symptoms.
Vaginal dryness and less elastic tissues are common
occurrences. Painful sexual intercourse may result. A decline in
sex drive and a requirement for more stimulation to reach orgasm
are also very common. Incontinence and prolapse of organs are
among the most severe symptoms experienced in relation to these
other, less severe, symptoms.
Sometimes menopause may seem like a period of extended
PMS, at least in terms of emotional symptoms. Mood swings have
been reported, in addition to restlessness, anxiety, panic, or
overreacting to minor upsets. If a woman was already depressed
before she reached menopause, it may worsen or reappear. It is
currently being debated whether or not menopause can itself bring
on depression. So far, there is no evidence to base this on.
Memory loss and other cognitive changes are common complains,
but it still has not been determined if this is due to menopause.
Some of the symptoms that are more difficult to separate from
normal aging are fatigue, general stiffness in joints and muscles,
hair thinning, and skin wrinkling. The hair thinning is likely related to
hormone levels, but the skin wrinkling is most likely due to aging.