What symptoms did you experience with approaching menopause?
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What are the symptoms of menopause?
Irregular vaginal bleeding
Irregular vaginal bleeding may occur during menopause.
Some women have minimal problems with abnormal bleeding during perimenopause
whereas others have unpredictable, excessive bleeding. Menstrual periods
(menses) may occur more frequently (meaning the cycle shortens in duration), or
they may get farther and farther apart (meaning the cycle lengthens in duration)
before stopping. There is no "normal" pattern of bleeding during the perimenopause, and patterns vary from woman to woman. It is common for women in
perimenopause to have a period after going for several months without one. There
is also no set length of time it takes for a woman to complete the menopausal
transition. A woman can have irregular periods for years prior to undergoing
menopause. It is important to remember that all women who develop irregular
menses should be evaluated by her doctor to confirm that the irregular menses
are due to perimenopause and not as a sign of another medical condition.
The menstrual abnormalities that begin in the perimenopause are also
associated with a decrease in fertility, since ovulation has become irregular.
However, women who are perimenopausal may still become
have reached true menopause (the absence of periods for one year) and should
still use contraception if they do not wish to become pregnant.
Hot flashes and night sweats
Hot flashes are common among women undergoing menopause.
A hot flash is a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body and is often most
pronounced in the head and chest. A hot flash is sometimes associated with
flushing and is sometimes followed by perspiration. Hot flashes usually last
from 30 seconds to several minutes. Although the exact cause of hot flashes is
not fully understood, hot flashes are likely due to a combination of hormonal
and biochemical fluctuations brought on by declining estrogen levels.
There is currently no method to predict when hot flashes will begin and how
long they will last. Hot flashes occur in up to 40% of regularly menstruating
women in their forties, so they may begin before the menstrual irregularities
characteristic of menopause even begin. About 80% of women will be finished
having hot flashes after five years. Sometimes (in about 10% of women), hot flashes
can last as long as 10 years. There is no way to predict when hot flashes will
cease, though they tend to decrease in frequency over time. They may also wax
and wane in their severity. The average woman
who has hot flashes will have them for about five years.
Sometimes hot flashes are accompanied by
(episodes of drenching sweats at nighttime). This may lead to awakening and
difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep
and daytime tiredness.
Vaginal symptoms occur as a result of the lining tissues of the vagina
becoming thinner, drier, and less elastic as estrogen levels fall. Symptoms may
include vaginal dryness,
itching, or irritation
and/or pain with sexual
intercourse (dyspareunia). The vaginal changes also lead to an increased risk of
The lining of the urethra (the transport tube leading from the bladder to discharge
urine outside the body) also undergoes changes similar to the tissues of the
vagina, and becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic with declining estrogen
levels. This can lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infection, feeling
the need to urinate more frequently, or leakage of urine (urinary incontinence).
The incontinence can result from a strong, sudden urge to urinate or may occur
during straining when coughing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects.
Emotional and cognitive symptoms
Women in perimenopause often report a variety of thinking (cognitive)
and/or emotional symptoms, including fatigue, memory problems, irritability, and
rapid changes in mood. It is difficult to precisely determine exactly which
behavioral symptoms are due directly to the hormonal changes of menopause.
Research in this area has been difficult for many reasons.
cognitive symptoms are so common that it is sometimes difficult in a given woman
to know if they are due to menopause. The night sweats that may occur during perimenopause can also contribute to feelings of tiredness and fatigue, which
can have an effect on mood and cognitive performance. Finally, many women may be
experiencing other life changes during the time of perimenopause or after
menopause, such as stressful life events, that may also cause emotional
Other physical changes
Many women report some degree of weight gain along with
menopause. The distribution of body fat may change, with body fat being
deposited more in the waist and abdominal area than in the hips and thighs.
Changes in skin texture, including wrinkles, may develop along with worsening of
adult acne in those affected by this condition. Since the body continues to
produce small levels of the male hormone testosterone, some
women may experience some hair growth on the chin, upper lip, chest, or