Do You Know the Signs of Menopause?

Just what is menopause? Quite simply, menopause is part of the natural aging process for women and is the starting point where fertility is diminished and ultimately ceases. According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility and is generally defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period.

In a more clinical context, menopause occurs when the ovaries no longer produce an egg every month and menstruation stops. The menopause cycle is a gradual process and usually starts when a woman is in her midlife, in an age range of late 40s to early 50s.

Do you know the signs of menopause? Woman's Hospital would like to share the following signs of menopause, to hopefully help answer some questions about it and disarm some old wives' tales and myths surrounding menopause.

  • An early indicator that menopause is on the horizon is night sweats. As your hormones fluctuate, the internal thermostat gets out of synch and can result in night sweats, some of which can be severe and cause tremendous discomfort.
  • Insomnia is another alert of the onset of menopause and is often is a result of night sweats and the associated discomfort.
  • Hot flashes are also common and result from, again, a woman's internal thermostat being off. Hot flashes are unpleasant at times, vary in severity and ultimately can adversely affect mood and sleep patterns, as well as concentration and memory issues.
  • A decrease is sex drive is not uncommon, a result of hormone changes and vaginal dryness.
  • Thinning hair and an increase in facial hair also often occurs as menopause progresses.
  • Mood swings and depression can also occur, and in some of the more extreme cases, it is necessary for women to seek medical treatment for the condition. 
  • Headaches and muscle aches are also common during this time. Keeping active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can greatly assist in keeping these symptoms under control.
  • Osteoporosis can begin developing during this period and is evidenced by your bones getting thin and weak.  Womenshealth.gov stresses that not smoking is vital, as smoking serves to weaken bones and that even second-hand smoke can be very harmful.

Menopause is a natural phase of a woman's life. It is a period of transition and, for many women, a period of rebirth and freedom.  However, in some cases, menopause can take a toll physically and mentally. If that is the case, the physicians at Woman's Hospital encourage you to talk with your care provider. Woman's Hospital offers a menopause support group, Red Hot Mamas, to help make this stage of life a little easier by providing you with education information. If you need a physician referral, the staff at Woman's Hospital is ready to help.

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