Symptoms of menopause: The menopause does not affect all women in the same way. Some women find that they hardly notice any difference in their body except that their monthly periods stop. However, other women notice all sorts of different symptoms. Some people say that women tend to follow their mothers in the symptoms that they get and the age they have the menopause, so it could be worth discussing it with your mother if you have any concerns. Below is a selection of common symptoms that you might notice.
The first signs of the menopause could be extra light or heavy periods and a difference of time between them. Most women would have a period every four weeks, although some are more regular than others. In this perimenopausal stage they may come more or less often.
Another common symptoms is hot flushes or night sweats. These seem to affect a lot of women. It is also possible to experience a loss of libido, headaches, palpitations, mood changes, tiredness, insomnia, urinary tract infection and vagina dryness, itchiness or soreness. These can happen over a long period of time in a small amount or they can be much more severe over a shorter time scale. They normally last for two to five years and some of the symptoms may get worse as the woman gets older.
A hot flush tends to start in the face, chest or neck area and then spread through the body. It may cause flushed skin and sweating. Palpitations may also occur. These usually only last for a few minutes and may happen at night or in the day and usually occur in the year after your final period. Night sweats can also cause sleep disturbances but these can also happen due to anxiety. A lack of sleep can lead to short term memory problems as well as irritability due to tiredness.
It is possible to get vaginal itchiness and dryness as well as other discomfort. Some women do not get this until after the menopause and some during it. About a third of women get these symptoms just after the menopause and they can last up to ten years. These can be treated by a doctor.
It is also possible that during the menopause you may be more likely to get urinary tract infections such as cystitis and there may be an increased need to go to wee.
Many women also find that the hormonal changes cause mood swings. These will vary between women and they can cause the mood to go up and down very quickly. It is worth trying to get enough sleep and eat sensibly so that these are easier to control.
If you have any symptoms that you are concerned about then it is worth paying a visit to the GP. They will be able to make recommendations with regards to easing the symptoms and prescribe medication, should they think it is necessary. You may be tempted to take supplements or medication to ease the symptoms. However, make sure that you are aware of the effects of these as well as the side effects. Sometimes they can make things worse rather than better.