Early Symptoms of Menopause

Women experience menopause in different ways. This is because our bodies are unique, like in giving birth, where every labour is different, so no two women experience menopause the same way. Some women have very few symptoms while others may have discomforts which interfere with their daily activities.
Irregular Periods
This is normally the first sign of a woman approaching menopause. The periods can be inconsistent in length or occurrence, or unusually heavy or light in flow. Nonetheless, women may still conceive during this period, thus it is advised that women continue using contraceptive for at least a year after period cessation.
Hot Flushes
Hot flushes are a common menopausal symptom that causes uncomfortable body heat coupled with headaches, palpitations or dizziness. They usually start as a feeling of pressure in the head followed by a wave of heat passing over the body and heavy sweating. These episodes which usually last for a few minutes can be embarrassing but never dangerous. Hot flushes can occur at any time but may be triggered by hot drinks, alcohol, warm room temperatures or stressful situations.
Night Sweats
Night sweats are hot flushes that occur during the night and because of the frequency, they often lead to poor sleep and fatigue the next day.
Sleep Disturbance
Psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety may consequent in poor sleep. In addition to that, sleep is likely to be interrupted by night sweats and hot flushes which can occur any time and even in deep sleep.
Mood Swings
Mood changes are one of the common psychological changes during menopause. These may be due to confusion, memory loss or lack of concentration. These factors further distress women and may lead to depression. Depression here refers to the state of overwhelming inability to control or feeling of loss of oneself. Anxiety, weepiness, irritability, frustration, moodiness or depression is some of the common emotional effects that a woman feels while approaching menopause.
Aches and Pains
The decrease in estrogen level also causes the loss of muscle strength. Emotional stress and tension can also cause various aches. The back and neck are the common areas where women in the menopausal stage suffer from aches. The stress and tension women experience may also contribute to headaches.
Skin and Hair Changes
After menopause, the skin and hair tend to become thinner and drier. These changes are caused by an estrogen-related loss of collagen. Some women may even experience an increased growth of facial hair.
Vaginal and Urinary Problems
Estrogen plays a major role in maintaining the function of a woman's vagina and urinary tract. Hence, during menopause, the loss of estrogen will also lead to problems such as the following:
Urinary Incontinence
As the tissues around the urethra (opening for urine) become thinner and weaker; women in the menopausal years may experience involuntary leakage of urine; also known as incontinence. These include stress incontinence (e.g. leaking urine when coughing) and urge incontinence (leaking on the way to the toilet). Women may also experience problems such as not being able to hold their bladder or even an increase in frequency of urination.
Vaginal Itch and Discomfort
The lack of estrogen causes vaginal thinning and dryness. This is mainly due to the decreasing number of small glands that produce lubricating mucus that keeps the vagina moist. The surrounding tissues weaken and shrink and in the long run, it will result in the vagina becoming shorter, less elastic, drier, and it may even cause the genital skin to look paler. Inflammation may occur as a result of the changes around the vagina and women may encounter pain during sexual intercourse consequently.
Women are advised to consult a doctor if the pain continues as those in the menopausal age are more vulnerable to infection. The infected vagina will also secret a smelly, unpleasant vaginal discharge.
Decrease in Libido
Women may start to experience discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse, causing a loss in sexual desire. This pain is due to the vagina being smaller and drier. As the vagina becomes less elastic, it is not surprising that women find sexual intercourse painful. The tendency of the vagina being sore makes this even worse. Therefore, the decrease in libido can be so significant in some of these women that they actually find sex repulsive.
Are you going through menopause? Rate your experiences with the Menopause Symptom Checker.
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