By Janet Martin
The mere mention of menopause can bring images of hot flashes or mood changes in a lot of women. Most women, even men, think that menopause is just that – the manifestation of several irritating symptoms. However, menopause is actually a process in which the ovaries start to lessen the production of sex hormones progesterone and estrogen. And this difficult phase ends when a woman’s monthly period finally ceases.
Although women in their 50s are usually the ones experiencing menopause, others find themselves having bouts with hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms even when they are just in their 40s. This stage is what is commonly known as pre-menopause or perimenopause. When a woman is around 40 years old, changes in her monthly periods are already apparent.
There are also cases when menopause is induced or experienced by younger women. This is usually due to surgical removal of ovaries, cancer therapies, or ovarian failure.
The Common Signs of Menopause
Bladder And Vaginal Problems
Incontinence or the inability to hold urine and urinary tract infection seem to be common in women who are in their menopausal stage. In some women, incontinence can be severe such that they have to wear adult diapers in order to avoid embarrassing situations, like pissing on their pants during meetings.
Aside from urine-related woes, menopausal women also experience itching, dryness, redness or burning sensation in the vagina. As a result, sexual activities may be quite painful and unenjoyable. Vaginal infections are also common during menopause.
The most infamous symptom of menopause is having hot flash. This is usually characterized by abrupt and unexpected bursts of heat from the center of the body which spread to the limbs. Hot flashes manifested at night during sleep are called night sweating.
Altered Menstrual Cycles
Since the number of eggs inside your ovaries is already dwindling and your sex hormone levels are diminishing, there will surely be changes in your monthly periods. You will notice that the flow of menstrual blood is becoming either lighter or heavier. Many women even experience absence of monthly periods for up to six months before having another menstruation. As a result, a lot of women find themselves bearing babies even at this stage. So unless you are absolutely sure that you have already completed your menopause, it would be wise to use contraceptives, such as condoms, to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Changed Attitude Towards Sex
Due to vaginal dryness and irritation, women who are in their menopausal stage usually are not in the mood for sex. Others, however, become more active because they are no longer burdened or worried about becoming pregnant. Whatever your reaction to sexual intercourse is, it is important to remember that you can still be prone to getting sexually transmitted diseases if you are not careful. Thus, practice safe sex all the time.
A number of women complain about either not having enough restful sleep or finding it quite difficult to fall asleep during this phase. In fact, you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night because of profuse sweating caused by hot flashes.
Scientists found that the low levels of estrogen during menopause may be the cause of mood changes in women. It seems that the sudden drop in estrogen can create havoc in women’s emotions. Thus, depression and anxiety are common problems facing menopausal women.
Hormone Replacement Therapy is one of the most popular treatments for menopause. However, many women who tried HRT experienced a lot of side effects. In fact, some studies are linking HRT with the development of severe illnesses including cancer.
About the Author: Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premiere online news magazine