It’s different for every woman — the menarche, or the first occurrence of menstruation, and the menopause, or the cessation of periods. Menopause happens when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. It’s part of aging and usually begins between the ages of 45 and 55. If a woman hasn’t menstruated for 12 months, it means she is going through menopause. Most women begin experiencing menopause symptoms a few years before their last period. The symptoms include hot flashes, uneven or missed periods, vaginal dryness, sore breasts, fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and emotional changes.
Let’s understand a few things about this perfectly natural biological process:
Perimenopause vs Menopause
The time or number of years leading to menopause is termed perimenopause. It’s menopause if it’s been a year since a woman had her period. During this time, the woman’s body undergoes hormonal changes. Some women report anxiety during perimenopause, while menopause increases stress for others.
When can a woman expect menopause?
The majority of women have reported that they stopped having their menstrual cycles at the age of 45, while some reported it to be 55. Although this age varies from one woman to another, the most common age when you can expect menopause is around your 50s. During this time, progesterone and estrogen levels start declining in your body. The ovary functioning, however, started to decline several years earlier.
There can be some instances of early menopause as well. For some women, menopause can also set in before they are 45. The most likely reasons for this are excessive smoking or undergoing ovarian surgeries. Even elevated stress levels, genetic disorders, or undergoing chemotherapy are also considered to be a cause of premature menopause.
If you are headed towards menopause, you will notice the changes well ahead. Here are a few cues that you should look for.
- Untimely periods – This is the first cue that you will notice. Apart from irregular periods, your periods might get longer or shorter. Even the bleeding might be more than usual or less. On the other hand, you can go two or three months without any signs of menstruation, which is quite common for many women. Tracking your menstrual cycle becomes quite a task. If you are experiencing these changes, you need not worry. But you should consult your physician if you are spotting or if the bleeding is heavier or scant.
- Hot flashes – Hot flashes are another common sign among women that menopause is just around the corner. You might notice that you suddenly feel all heat rushing towards your neck or face. Your face might become flushed at times, and red blotches can also appear on your arms or back. Some women have also reported that apart from the heavy sweating, they experience cold shivers. Although in most cases, hot flashes last for a minute or a maximum of 10 minutes, for some women, they can occur even after menopause too.
- Sleeping issues – Sleeping issues are yet another common symptom of nearing menopause — you stay up late at night or sleep early and wake up again at odd hours. Changes in the hormonal level are the primary reason for such a tough sleep schedule.
- Dry vagina – Many women have reported a drier vagina. This is because, with a fall in the estrogen level, the natural elasticity and moisture level of your vagina drops. This leads to vaginal dryness and tissues becoming tighter. To ease the dryness, you can use Glycerine-free Lube-tube.
- Mood swings – Irritability, anger, and mood swings are common symptoms of nearing menopause. The whole world might seem to make you angry. Do you know why? The primary reason is lack of sleep. Sleeping issues, as mentioned, are pretty common during menopause, and they can cause irritability. Although most scientists have yet to find the reason for such mood swings, the other reasons can be depression, children moving away from you, or continued fatigue.
- Forgetfulness – Memory lapse is quite common with ageing. For example, most people tend to forget some of their vocabulary or where they have placed their car keys. But if you are worried that you are undergoing too much memory lapse, then you might be headed towards menopause.
- Weight gain – Even after proper exercise and healthy eating habits, you are gaining some weight. Your widening waistline and weight gain indicate that menopause might be near. Such weight gain is also linked to dropping estrogen levels, which keeps weight gain around your stomach in check.
- Bodily changes – If you notice your hair getting thinner or your skin getting drier by the day, you might be headed towards menopause. Apart from weight gain, you might find yourself with stiffer joints or your strength level falling. What you need to do is make sure you are staying active. Actively working out will also keep stress at bay.
Do I need to consult a doctor?
You can consult your doctor if you wish to get preventive healthcare, and not only before menopause but after it as well. You can go for a consultation if you feel your hot flashes are unrelated to approaching menopause. You can also consult your doctor if your sleeping issues last longer than expected. Most sleeping issues last for a few weeks.
How to manage menopause?
There are some fantastic natural ways to manage your symptoms of menopause. You can consume foods loaded with vitamin D and calcium. Along with this, regular work out or yoga would help.
Nothing to worry about
With the onset of menopause, your body will undergo multiple changes, but it should be seen as a transition to a new phase of your life. These signs will vary from one to the other. You may endure all or some of these symptoms. Improve your personal care routine and diet to welcome these changes.