Some of the symptoms of menopause can be similar to those experienced with a number of health conditions. It’s important to know when you are entering menopause so you can make appropriate lifestyle changes and seek treatment and emotional support if needed.
But how can you tell for sure? There are many signs that come with menopause and if you find you are suffering from several or more of them, it is a reasonable suggestion that you are entering menopause.
As with any health symptoms, however, just one is enough to indicate that you should see your doctor. This way, you can be sure if you are indeed entering menopause or you are possibly suffering from another health problem.
More than three-quarters of women entering menopause will experience hot flushes. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can trigger this very uncomfortable and often embarrassing phenomenon. They may last only a couple of minutes but can go on much longer for some women.
Another classic sign of menopause is vaginal dryness, which can also affect sex drive. As your oestrogen levels decline during menopause, the vaginal walls become thinner and dryer, which then leads to decreased lubrication. It can make sex uncomfortable or even painful.
Irregular periods are one of the most common signs of menopause. As oestrogen declines, ovarian function is affected. The result is that your menstrual cycle may be delayed or you may find periods come early. Changes to flow can also occur.
While some incorrectly claim that menopausal mood swings are all in a woman’s mind, this is not the case. The hormonal changes can have significant effects on mood. This imbalance of hormones can leave women going from extreme highs to lows.
In the same way that hot flushes during the day are common in menopausal women, night sweats are another common occurrence. In fact, they can start years before a woman experiences menopause.
They can be particularly difficult because they interrupt sleep and can leave women tired the next day. For some women, night sweats are so severe that their sheets are soaked and they are frequently waking up during the night.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
If you find you are feeling very fatigued, it could be a sign of menopause. This fatigue and exhaustion is often related to other menopause symptoms such as lack of sleep and depression. In turn, women find they feel especially tired. Others who are dealing with weight changes such as weight gain may be using crash diets to lose weight, which can also trigger fatigue from low blood sugar and poor nutrition.
Wildly fluctuating hormones and hot flushes can leave women anxious and fearful of the bodily changes that occur as they enter menopause. Worrying about the loss of control and confusion over what is happening can even trigger panic attacks and depression in women.
Weight changes can occur with menopause but may relate more to menopausal anxiety and overeating than directly to physical changes. As we age, we tend to gain more visceral – or belly – fat, and this isn’t an effect of menopause as such but you may notice it around the time you experience other menopause symptoms.
Decreased Sex Drive
Many women suffer from a decreased sex drive as they enter menopause. This tends to relate to declining levels of oestrogen and other hormonal fluctuations. It can also relate to the psychological effects of menopause such as depression and anxiety. Vaginal dryness usually exacerbates the lack of sex drive in menopausal women.
Another potential sign that you are entering menopause is if you begin to experience bladder infections, especially if you previously had no bladder infections. As oestrogen levels decline, vaginal walls become thinner and a woman’s risk of bladder infections increases. In particular, bladder infections following sexual activity may be more common.
A Positive Menopause Experience
Ignoring changes in your body can mean that menopause isn’t a healthy, positive experience. If you find you are experiencing signs of menopause, see your doctor to make sure you have access to the treatments that are best for your personal transition.
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@concerned lady. Unforutunately there seem to be no defintive figures on this (and of course everyone is different anyway). The average age of the menopause is 51 but of course this being an average, means that there are women who menopause earlier and much later than that. The perimenopause period also varies and some research has shown that it can actually begin in the mid thirties...so it's all really a bit too vague to put a precise or even 'average' figure on.
MenopauseExpert - 13-Mar-15 @ 11:33 AM
Please can you advise if it Is possible to be more specific about the age range of a potentially menopausal woman?
I am 52 now and think I have been and still am perimenopausal for at least 6 years and I am wondering if I would be compared to someone ina particular age group?
Is it possible you can give me an idea of the bounds of a timeframe in which 50% of women will experience symptoms of the menopause?
I have found statistics on when women can expect to complete the menopause but this isn’t the exact question I want to answer as I have still not been free of my periods for a year yet.
I look forward to any answers you can provide to enable me to get a better understanding of this period of my life.
Thanking you in anticipation of your assistance in the matter.
Concerned Lady - 10-Mar-15 @ 8:02 PM
This is a great article that covers all the common symptoms of menopause - the dark enemy that no woman wants to mention let alone admit to.Well done and thanks for being so open and frank about such a challenging natural stage in a woman's life.