What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?

How to tell if menopause is on the way

Wondering if you are entering into menopause is a stressful time that can possibly leave you uneasy, confused and worried. Knowing what signs to look for during this life transition will be an invaluable asset. Menopause is not a medical illness, but has effects on the body and emotions that can be treated and eased, giving you a better handle on this time in your life and control over what can be a difficult change.

When do symptoms start?

Contrary to popular belief, the presence of menopausal symptoms does not mean you are currently experiencing menopause. According to research done by Mayo Clinic, menopause doesn’t actually “hit” until one year after you experience your last period. The symptoms that signal menopause is near, though, typically start earlier than the one-year anniversary of your last menstrual cycle. First symptoms of menopause can begin to show as early as one year before you actually enter menopause, in what’s known as pre-menopause.

Early symptoms of menopause

Some of the early symptoms of menopause are irregular periods, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, decreased fertility, mood swings, increased abdominal fat, loss of breast fullness, loss of hair and hot flashes, as reported by Mayo Clinic. In America, early symptoms of menopause begin in women around age 51, although menopause can come about prematurely as a result of surgery or other medical procedures.

The first symptom of menopause is most commonly an irregular period, or a halt in your period all together. If you miss a period and think it may be an early symptom of menopause, see a doctor to rule out being pregnant.

Managing symptoms of menopause

Keeping a healthy diet and staying physically fit are the most important factors in the years leading up to menopause that will keep you feeling good during the years you are going through menopause. While there is no one treatment that is good for all women, there some ways to ease the symptoms of menopause. Here are some common symptoms of menopause and ways to manage them, as recommended by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services:

 

Hot flashes: Avoid hot-flash triggers such as spicy foods, caffeine and stress. Vaginal Dryness: A water-based, over-the-counter lubricant can help with sex if it is painful, and a vaginal moisturizer can help with uncomfortable everyday dryness. Sleeping problems: The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to exercise, but not right before bedtime. Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day, and avoid large meals and smoking right before bedtime. Mood swings: Emotional symptoms such as mood swings will lessen if your doctor puts you on menopausal hormone therapy. This will regulate the changes in your hormonal levels. Also, getting exercise and enough sleep can help decrease the intensity of mood swings.

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