Menopause brings on a variety of changes to a woman’s body. Essentially, every menopausal symptom is triggered by body aging. As you get older, it can be difficult to differentiate between regular signs of aging and signs of menopause.
Important Signs of Menopause
Do you believe that you’re experiencing menopause? While many menopausal symptoms can happen at any time in your life, most of these signs are clear indicators that your body is changing. Keep reading to learn 12 important menopausal symptoms you should watch out for.
1. Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
If you’re used to fairly regular periods, any significant change in your menstrual cycle can indicate that menopause has arrived.
Many women bleed lighter or heavier than usual as they get older. Some women may experience spotting. Your period may also vary in duration as it may be shorter or longer than normal.
If your period doesn’t come at all, make sure to determine if you are pregnant. If you have a negative pregnancy test, this missed period could be a tell-tale menopausal symptom.
And, if the period doesn’t return for several consecutive months, it’s important to speak with a doctor to make sure that this is natural and not caused by something else.
2. Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. These hot flashes are exactly as they sound: sudden feelings of heat throughout your entire body or in the upper half of your body.
During these hot flashes, your neck and face may even turn red. You may experience sweating and feel flushed.
Hot flashes vary in their intensity. At times they can be mild and other times they can be quite strong—sometimes, intense enough to jolt you from your sleep.
These hot flashes often occur a few years after the end of your last menstrual period. Though hot flashes may discontinue after your period stops for good, if they do occur, they will likely be less intense.
If your hot flashes are too disruptive, it’s time to contact a doctor. There are specific treatments that will make it easier to deal with these hot flashes.
3. Pain During Sex or Vaginal Dryness
Other menopausal symptoms include vaginal dryness and pain during sex. You might experience either of these symptoms or both as your body changes.
Your body’s decrease in progesterone and estrogen during this time can affect the level of moisture on your vaginal walls.
Though vaginal dryness can happen during any stage in your life, it is often seen as one of the more tell-tale signs of menopause.
This dryness can be accompanied by burning, stinging, or itching around the vulva.
Using lubricant or a moisturizer may combat some of the dryness you feel. However, if you feel discomfort consistently, it’s best to talk to a doctor. They will be able to determine what exactly is causing your dryness or pain during intercourse.
4. Difficulty Sleeping or Insomnia
While it is recommended that healthy adults get at least seven hours of sleep a day, many women find that their quality of sleep is affected during this time in their life.
Menopause is often accompanied by difficulty falling asleep as well as poor quality of sleep.
If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep, consider the following tips:
- Exercise daily
- Practice breathing techniques
- Listen to soft music at bedtime
- Limit your consumption of caffeine, alcohol, or chocolate
5. Frequent Urination or Incontinence
This time in a woman’s life is often marked by a lack of bladder control.
If you experience painful urination, the constant sensation to urinate, or urinary incontinence, it is likely you have reached this stage in your life.
As women get older, the urethra and vagina lose their elasticity. The lining and surrounding pelvic muscles also weaken, leading to incontinence or frequent urination.
To fight these changes, you should stay hydrated, limit your alcohol intake, and practice Kegel exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor.
If these symptoms persist, it’s best to contact a doctor to see what medications will help you best.
6. Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs can occur for many different reasons. However, as women age, they can become more frequent.
During this stage in your life, your body will experience lower estrogen levels which will lead to changes in your urinary tract. All of this can make you that much more susceptible to developing a urinary tract infection.
You can identify a urinary tract infection based on whether or not you have a constant burning sensation during urination. If this burning persists or you have a constant urge to urinate, you should see a doctor.
If you do have a UTI, the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. Moreover, they will be able to determine if theses UTIs are a symptom of something else.
7. Decreased Libido
We all have various sex drives. However, with age, it is common for women’s sex drives to decrease. While this isn’t always related to one specific thing, when it comes to signs of menopause, a lower libido is often viewed as one of the more obvious ones.
These changes in your body are influenced by a reduction of estrogen. Other similar symptoms include a lower clitoral reaction time, vaginal dryness, or no orgasmic response.
Though a decrease in libido does happen as women age, some women may find that they are more interested in sex. If this is the case, it may be helpful to speak with your doctor to ensure vaginal dryness or similar symptoms don’t affect your sexual experiences.
8. Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal atrophy is caused by a decline in the production of estrogen.
This condition is also characterized by inflammation and the thinning of the vaginal walls.
Vaginal atrophy can make sex uncomfortable and reduce the libido overall. This condition can be treated with certain lubricants and prescription treatments like the vaginal ring, estrogen cream, and localized estrogen therapy.
The best way to determine if you’re experiencing vaginal atrophy is to visit your doctor and get a professional opinion.
9. Mood Swings and Depression
As your body changes in its hormone production, your mood may start to shift.
Many women at this time in their life often experience depression, irritability, and mood swings. These can be characterized by severe highs and extreme lows in a very short time.
These hormone fluctuations will affect how you feel and act. Feeling depressed, anxious, irritable, or sad from time to time is natural.
If your mood swings become too much to handle, it’s a good idea to consult with a doctor so they can prescribe you medicine.
10. Change in Hair and Skin
Everyone experiences changes to their hair and skin as they get older.
Your body will lose collagen and fatty tissue, resulting in thinner and drier skin.
Moreover, your vagina will become less lubricated and begin to lose its elasticity due to a lack of estrogen. This hormonal imbalance will also contribute to dry hair or a loss of hair in general.
If you notice that you hair is drier than normal, it’s best to avoid using harsh chemicals or damaging treatments to help protect your hair.
11. Increase in Weight Gain
Your weight will fluctuate throughout your life. However, women that experience this added weight as they get older may be undergoing menopausal symptoms.
As your metabolism declines, you will find that your body can no longer process weight in the same manner that it did before. This extra weight often comes from excess fluid, additional muscle tissue, or fat deposits.
Many women that experience these changes gain between 12 and 15 pounds. Most of this weight accumulates around the stomach and their figures begin to take on another shape.
As this weight gain occurs in specific areas of the body, women may often lose weight in other areas. Breast fullness is often another menopausal symptom that comes with age.
12. Unusual Hair Growth
Various hormonal changes during this time in your life can lead to excessive hair growth. The limited estrogen in your body can lead to an increase in hair growth all over your face and body.
Many women find that they have hair in places they never did prior to this point in their life.
If the hair growth becomes a significant problem, there are medications that can be taken to help inhibit the production of hair.
Final Thoughts on Signs of Menopause
We all get older and our bodies will start to experience new things as we do. Though some of these changes may be uncomfortable in the moment, it’s best to embrace change as it comes and learn to accept it. This is true during every aspect of life and is true now as you experience menopause.
Wherever you may find yourself in life, don’t be frightened by getting older. Keep this guide in mind to help you determine what may be going on with your body as you approach menopause.