The end of a woman’s fertile phase of reproduction (menopause) is a natural biological process characterized by various changes within the body. The main change is the cessation of the basic function of the ovaries, which is the release of both ova and hormones. Both ova and hormones play an important role in the creation of uterine lining, which is later shed (menses).
The age at which natural menopause sets in varies greatly in different women. Natural menopause typically sets in at between 40 an 60 years. Premature (early) menopause can set in as early as 30 years or even earlier. This is common with women who smoke and those who have undergone hysterectomy.
Menopause presents varied signs and although a woman may not experience all, some are very common. Such include:
Hot flushes are the most common signs a woman entering or already into menopause phase experiences. Hot flushes occur as clammy feeling and can make a woman very uncomfortably. Some women experience intense hot flushes that can last up to a minute before fading away. Hot flushes occur due to increased activity in the body’s nervous system necessitated by a decline in estrogen levels. Hot flushes usually accompanied by night sweats. In other cases however, a woman may not experience hot flushes but instead experience cold flushes.
Palpitations are rapid heartbeats that some women in menopause experience. Palpitations can occur as rapid heartbeats, skipped heartbeats or irregular heartbeats. Palpitations do occur due to fluctuation in the level of hormones in the body during menopause. Although they are usually normal, a woman needs to be checked to ascertain how healthy her heart is. This is important so as to exclude other heart issues such as hypertension.
Most women in menopause become highly irritable. This is normally when reacting to any situation when they are bound to exhibit anger that borders on rage, in complete contrast to their known character. Some women experience mood swings alongside irritability. Irritability is also caused by changes in hormone levels.
Troubled or lack of sleep is a common sign of menopause. Some women find it extremely hard to fall asleep or if they do, such is only for a few hours. Troubles sleep can be with or without night sweats. Like with other signs, troubled sleep is caused by fluctuations in hormone levels.
Reduced sex drive
Most women in menopause experience reduced libido. Their sex frequency reduces drastically. Some however lose interest in sex completely and the same does not cross their mind. Reduced libido is directly caused by reduced hormonal levels and in particular estrogen.
Reduced or fluctuations in hormonal levels during menopause drive most women into depression. They find coping too hard and develop a feeling of having lost their self. With depression comes along other common signs including difficulty in concentration, mental confusion, partial memory loss and disorientation.
Although hair loss or thinning is perfectly normal, the same increases during menopause as a direct result of reduced hormones. Such hair loss is not limited to that on the head but extends to that in pubic area. It is common for most women experiencing hair loss or thinning to shave and wear short hair on the head.
Some women get itchy skin, some doctors prescribe topical creams to ease up the itching. But again these skin changes are due to changing harmone levels in the body. Some women complain about burning sensation in hands and legs.
Although common, some of these signs can make a woman not only uncomfortable but find it very difficult to cope. Varied treatment options are however available that minimize the impact of problematic signs.