Menopause Symptoms

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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When do menopause symptoms begin?

Some of the symptoms of menopause can actually begin years before menstrual periods stop occurring. Doctors generally use the term "perimenopause" to refer to the time period beginning prior to the menopause (when some of the signs and symptoms of menopause begin to occur) up through the first year following menopause. Menopause itself is defined as having had 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period.

Menopause symptoms begin gradually while the ovaries are still functioning and a woman is still having menstrual periods. These symptoms can begin as early as the 4th decade of life (when a woman is in her 30s) and may persist for years until menopause has occurred. The symptoms occur early because the levels of hormones produced by the ovaries (estrogen and progesterone) decline slowly over time, explaining why pregnancy is still possible, but less likely to occur, as a woman reaches her forties. The severity and duration of symptoms vary widely among individuals - some women may experience only minimal symptoms for a year or two, while others may experience at least some of the symptoms for several years.

While most women will experience a gradual transition to menopause with a slow onset of symptoms, some women will experience an early (premature) menopause that may bring on immediate symptoms, depending on the cause of the ovarian failure. One common cause of immediate symptoms is a "surgical menopause" following the surgical removal of functioning ovaries.

Quick GuideMenopause & Perimenopause: Symptoms, Signs

Menopause & Perimenopause: Symptoms, Signs

What are menopause symptoms?

Menopause symptoms can be perceived as physical problems, emotional disturbances, or problems associated with sexual functioning.

Physical symptoms of menopause include:

Emotional symptoms may include:

Sexual symptoms may result from increasing dryness and thinning of the vaginal wall, leading to pain or discomfort during intercourse.

If you are experiencing menopause symptoms, you doctor can advise you about ways you can relieve and manage these symptoms.

Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology

REFERENCE:

MedscapeReference. Menopause.


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Reviewed on 4/13/2016

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