Understanding menopause symptoms
Menopause is difficult to understand for anyone who hasn't already experienced it, check out and share these articles to give yourself and others a better insight to what menopause actually means:
What Men Need To Know About Menopause
What is Menopause Exactly?
There are many symptoms that women may experience during the menopause, and symptoms can occur before you have any changes in your periods. As oestrogen levels fall, often quite erratically, you may start to notice some symptoms such as
- Hot flushes
- Night Sweats
- Mood changes (usually your partner will notice this first)!
- Vaginal dryness
At first you might not realise that these early menopause symptoms are due to hormonal changes. Then you might see a change in your bleeding pattern. Your periods may become lighter and more spaced apart, missing one or two or they might just suddenly stop. Other women have more frequent periods and periods can also become heavier. If periods are very heavy then it may be worth speaking to your GP. Having heavy periods can cause anaemia and treatments such as the Mirena coil or the contraceptive mini pill can help to lessen the blood flow.
Hot flushes are a common symptom of the menopause and can come on all of a sudden and can be really uncomfortable. They can be accompanied by sweating, anxiety and embarrassment. Some women describe hot flushes as rising heat through their chest and face.
Hot flushes can have certain triggers. Spicy foods, alcohol and stress can all trigger hot flushes. If you are overweight or smoke then hot flushes are more likely to happen, as this has a direct impact on oestrogen levels.
Night sweats are also common symptoms of the menopause. Changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels are specifically responsible for this phenomenon. Usually, women will wake in the night due to a sudden and intense onset of heat accompanied by sweats and a chill. Night wear and bedding may need to be changed due to the amount of sweating. Again hot and spicy foods and alcohol can trigger night sweats so it is best to avoid them in the evenings.
Some women are more sensitive to mood swings around the menopause and may feel irritable, anxious and tired. These symptoms can be challenging to deal with; you may feel fine and in control one moment and the next you lose it. One day you may feel happy, the next day sad. You might feel irritable and angry.
It is important to recognise that whilst you’re going through the menopause, other life changes may be happening too which can affect the way you feel. Many women experiencing menopausal symptoms may also be dealing with elderly parents, teenagers or children leaving home, relationships and worries about ageing. There may be financial worries and work stresses.
Around 50% of women feel frequently tired, run down and that they have less energy than usual during the menopause, commonly referred to as menopause fatigue. These symptoms are due to falling levels of both oestrogen and testosterone. Stress can also cause a drop in energy levels and affect sleep so it is important to try and have a good sleeping pattern, eat healthily, reduce alcohol intake and continue to exercise.
Vaginal dryness (vaginal atrophy) is caused by declining levels of oestrogen. Symptoms can start during the perimenopause and can be particularly worse after the menopause when no oestrogen is being produced. Vaginal dryness can cause pain and even bleeding during intercourse as the natural lubrication is no longer present. The vaginal walls can become thinner and lose elasticity and there may be an increase in infections like thrush and urine infections.
Less common menopause symptoms
- Joint aches and pains
- Dry eyes
- Itchy skin
- Itchy skin
This is the second in our series on Menopause. Check out our other articles to get a full understanding of what the Menopause means for many women:
Lifestyle Factors to Help Improve Menopause Symptoms
Managing Brain Fog Caused by Menopause
What is Menopause Exactly?
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