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 Symptoms
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.

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