How do you know you’re in menopause?
What kinds of menopause symptoms indicate that you are entering this stage of your life?
When is the time to consider hormone replacement therapy or alternative remedies for menopausal symptoms?
These are questions many women begin to ask themselves around the age of 40-50.
Here is a checklist of menopausal symptoms that might help you identify that you are at least premenopausal and should start trying to change your lifestyle in order to better cope with menopausal signs and symptoms:
1. Hot flashes
These are intense and variable feelings of heat that come from within the body in response to a decrease in female hormones normally made by the ovaries. Hot flashes are the number one symptom in menopause. When the ovaries are declining, the periods become more irregular and hot flashes begin to occur.
2. Night sweats
These typically happen when you are sleeping. Because of the changes in hormone levels, you can wake up drenched in sweat with wet bed clothing, a wet pillow, and wet sheets/blankets. These are some of the most common symptoms of menopause.
3. Irregular periods
With the fluctuation of hormones, you may sometimes get periods that are irregular. Sometimes they are too close together and sometimes they are too far apart. Eventually they space out and stop altogether. When you have no periods for 12 consecutive months, it is said that you are postmenopausal.
4. Loss of libido
You need your female hormones as well as the small amount of testosterone in order to have a normal female libido. When these are diminished, the natural libido you used to have dissipates to varying degrees. Replacement of these hormones can help turn around these symptoms so that you can enjoy sex again.
5. Vaginal dryness
Without estrogen protecting the vaginal lining, it can become thin and will produce less mucus. This can be remedied with estrogen given locally (using a ring, tablet, or cream), using vaginal moisturizers, or using vaginal lubricants (like Astroglide or KY Jelly). Petroleum-based vaginal lubricants cannot be used as they can rupture latex condoms.
6. Mood swings
Mood swings are common, especially during the premenopausal state. It is the result of changes in female hormones that affect the neurotransmitters of the brain. This can lead to depressive symptoms or anxiety along with the typical irritability seen in menopausal mood swings.
Menopause can make you feel as though you are tired all the time. You tend not to sleep well and the normal activities of daily living can be interfered with because of the fatigue. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get plenty of sleep, exercise to bring back your energy level, and take naps if you absolutely have to.
8. Hair loss
Hair loss is one of the most noticeable symptoms of menopause. It is the result of estrogen loss because you need estrogen to sustain the growth of the hair follicles. You may experience sudden hair loss or gradual hair loss. It can occur in the pubic area or on the head and generally involves thinning of the hair rather than patchy hair loss. You can also have brittle and dry hair that comes out in the shower or when brushing the hair. If you fix the hormonal imbalance, some of the hair thinning can be managed.
9. Sleep Problems
Menopause can cause you to awaken many times in the night, unable to sleep well because you are uncomfortable with night sweats or hot flashes. Women undergoing menopause will find that sleep does not bring on restfulness and it becomes more difficult to fall asleep at night. It is not uncommon to have 5-7 years of sleeplessness in the years prior to menopause. If the sleep problem is very severe see your doctor.
10. Problems concentrating
In the years coming up to menopause, women often become concerned about memory loss. While it can be confusing, it does not last very long and soon your concentration will return. It is believed to be related to a deficiency in menopause. It can also be related to a disruption in sleep that happens during menopause. The doctor will examine you to see whether or not you have another problem with concentration besides menopause.
I have created a printable PDF version of this checklist that can be used as a worksheet.
You can download it here... Menopause Symptoms Checklist
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