It is a fact of life that women will eventually go through menopause. Whether this
is from hysterectomy, natural aging, or trauma; all women will at some time have to
deal with the effects of the decline of childbearing years. Some women will be blessed
by not having to deal with the majority of the symptoms that typically show up in
menopausal women, while others will be affected so deeply it will change their day
to day life. But what are the signs and symptoms of menopause? Typically there are
34 basic signs that will fall easily into two categories: the mental and the physical.
Not all these symptoms mean menopause is certain. I had several and thought I was
going into early menopause, but simple tests assured me that I wasn't.
A woman shouldn't have to worry that she is losing her mind when she goes through
"the change of life" but that is what some will feel. Mental changes that are associated
with menopause include depression and anxiety. That sadness can be from many things
including sleep deprivation or the stress of dealing with so many changes all at once.
Anxiety can become stressful, leading to a vicious Catch-22 cycle of events.
Mood swings and irritability are two that can occur from some of the physical changes
like the sleep disorders. A strange symptom of menopause includes a feeling of electricity
or small shocks to the skin and head. Many associate this sensation with a snapping
rubber band. There are some that will be plagued with panic disorders and the impending
feeling of doom and despair. These can go on throughout the entire menopause but are
mostly every now and then.
There can be a mental fog or disorientation while going through menopause. This symptom
incorporates all concentration and confusion issues, mostly tied to the lack of sleep
again. There may be memory lapses that aren't explained by other means. This isn't
to be confused with Alzheimer's or any other memory impairment. Likely this will go
away as soon as the woman completes the menopause cycle. For myself, I assumed the
mental fog I had was a sure sign of menopause, however it was instead fibromyalgia.
Make sure you go over all your symptoms with a doctor to know whether it is attributed
to menopause or something else.
Sexual loss of desire is an increasing menopausal symptom that can trouble relationships.
This can be from physical symptoms such as the vaginal dryness or by increasing mood
swings. The woman may suddenly burst into tears from these mood swings and generalized
depressive state. Keeping well lubricated can take care of some of the issues that
are associated with vaginal dryness.
These bodily changes can be some of the most annoying of all the menopausal signs.
These symptoms will include hot flashes and cold flashes (the reaction of the body
to a dropping estrogen level). Many times the woman will simply feel like her thermostat
is broken. This can go from day to evening and manifest into another symptom called
night sweats. There may be tingling and crawling sensations in the hands and feet,
or they may get colder than normal. Dressing in layers can help the woman add clothes
for warmth or remove to cool as needed.
With the drop in hormones, the woman may be experiencing vaginal dryness, menstruation
issues such as irregular or shorter periods, or heavier/lighter flow. She may be bloated
or have bladder incontinence when she laughs or exercises. This bloat may contribute
to weight gain. Many times a woman may feel shame associated with the incontinence,
however this too can go away after the menopause symptoms clear.
There may be hair symptoms such as thinning hair in the head or body, or even hair
loss. These are closely tied to the loss of hormones and the decrease in the estrogen
in the body. There can be the sensation of a burning tongue, rapid heavy heartbeats,
and changes in body odor intensity and aroma. Gum and teeth problems can occur along
with itchy crawling skin that will need more hydration than normal.
Fatigue is a very real symptom, along with sleep disorders. Because of the sleep issues
many of the mental signs appear and the more tired the woman will feel. Again, when
I thought I had hit early menopause the fatigue was a very real indicator for me.
However, my fibromyalgia ended up being the cause of the symptoms. There may be breast
pain and tenderness along with headaches, achy sore muscles and joints, and tendon
pain. The term "ache all over" is a good way to describe these sensations. There may
be signs of osteoporosis later as one of the ending symptoms of menopause.
Some of the stranger symptoms can be an increase in allergies and sensitivities. There
may be vertigo and loss of balance. There can be fingernail changes to where they
are soft, brittle, and crack/split easier than normal. The nails may be inflamed or
irritated. And due to the flux of hormones, women may be experiencing digestive issues
that will cause gas, nausea, indigestion, and stomach upset.
Most women will not experience all of the symptoms listed above, and some may not
experience them to any degree where it will interfere with their daily lives. However,
some may be so bothered and the symptoms overcome them to such a degree that hormone
replacement therapy may be an option. Whatever the case for your individual menopause,
knowing the signs can save a little sanity along the way.
Now that I am better informed over what my symptoms were, it is still good to know
what all the signs of menopause are. When I actually go through it, I will be better
prepared knowing what I do.