Menopause - Symptoms
The symptoms of menopause are at times very disturbing. Symptoms have a wide range because of the many effects that these hormones have on the female body.
Changes in the menstrual cycle: The woman’s menstrual period may be irregular. She may either bleed more or it may reduce. Duration of the periods may be long or short. If she is not pregnant, a missed period could indicate the onset of menopause.
Hot flushes: Many women experience hot flushes as a main symptom of menopause. Hot flushes are a sudden feeling of heat either in the upper portion of your body or all over. Your face and neck might turn red, and you may feel sweaty or flushed. The intensity is different for person to person. It generally lasts from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
Most women experience hot flushes for a year or two after their final menstrual period. Some will have them for longer, but they reduce in severity over time.
Vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse: Women can experience vaginal dryness during the menopausal stage. Signs can include itching around the vulva as well as stinging or burning. Vaginal dryness can make intercourse painful and may cause them to lightly bleed or feel like they need to urinate frequently.
Insomnia or problems sleeping: During menopause, it might be hard for her to fall asleep or get sleep for long hours.
Frequent urination or urinary incontinence: The woman’s bladder control reduces, and she may feel a constant need to urinate even when the bladder is not full or experience painful urination. This is because during menopause, the tissues in the vagina and urethra lose their elasticity and the inner surface becomes thin.
Urinary tract infections: During menopause she may be prone to urinary tract infections. If she feels a persistent urge to urinate or a burning sensation while urinating she must consult a doctor.
Decreased libido: She may feel less interested in sex during menopause due to the physiological changes brought upon by reduced oestrogen. These changes could range from delayed clitoral reaction time, slow or absent orgasmic response to vaginal dryness.
Depression and mood swings: She may experience irritability, depression and mood swings, often experiencing extreme highs to severe lows in a short period of time.
Skin: During menopause the skin tends to become dry and thin. It also affects the elasticity and lubrication of the skin near the vagina and urinary tract.
Hair: Hair loss is one of the more common symptoms of menopause. Most women experience hair loss for a few years before and after menopause. This is due to the reducing oestrogen levels which cause hair loss and hair thinning and also make the hair feel brittle and dry.
When a woman begins her menopause, she will likely know it. Even though most women expect this life change and recognise the symptoms, for some, it might be difficult to recognise. Our doctors at Dr Batra’s help women understand whether they are beginning their menopause. The doctors ask about their symptoms (e.g. hot flushes, spotting, mood swings, trouble sleeping, sexual problems, etc.), track their cycle and possibly conduct a few medical tests. Usually, no tests are needed to diagnose menopause;
however, under certain circumstances, our doctors may recommend blood tests to check the woman’s hormone levels. Levels of hormones, namely, the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and oestrogens will be tested because the FSH levels increase and estradiol levels decrease during menopause.
Other hormones like the thyroid-stimulating hormone may be tested because a decreased function of thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause symptoms similar to those of menopause.
After menopause, the risk of certain medical conditions increases such as:
Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease: When the oestrogen levels decline, there is an increased risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as in men. So it is important to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet and maintain a normal weight. Our doctors advise on how to protect the heart, that is how to reduce the cholesterol and blood pressure levels if they are too high.
Osteoporosis: This condition causes bones to become brittle and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures. During the first few years after menopause, the woman may lose bone density at a rapid rate, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis are especially susceptible to fractures of their hips, wrists and spine.
Weight gain: Many women gain weight during the menopausal transition and after menopause because the metabolism slow down. They may need to eat less and exercise more, just to maintain their current weight.