What Are The First Signs Of Menopause
We always say that checking in with how and what youre feeling is the best way to confirm youre in menopause. If you feel that something is off or that you are experiencing more and more symptoms around the age when perimenopause or menopause most often begins you have probably started your transition.
|While there is no set first sign of perimenopause or menopause, there are 16 very common symptoms:|
Its important to realize that perimenopause and menopause dont cause only physical symptoms. You may experience a range unsettling changes in emotions, memory and concentration, as well those in the list above. For some women, these are the worst symptoms of all.
With such a wide range of symptoms, its no wonder many women dont connect them to perimenopausal hormonal imbalance. If you would like to read more about symptoms, see our article Signs and symptoms of menopause.
Can Menopause Affect Sleep
Some women may experience trouble sleeping through the night and insomnia during menopause. Insomnia is an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. This can be a normal side effect of menopause itself, or it could be due to another symptom of menopause. Hot flashes are a common culprit of sleepless nights during menopause.
If hot flashes keep you awake at night, try:
- Staying cool at night by wearing loose clothing.
- Keeping your bedroom well-ventilated.
Avoiding certain foods and behaviors that trigger your hot flashes. If spicy food typically sets off a hot flash, avoid eating anything spicy before bed.
How Long Are Normal Perimenopause Periods
Ordinarily, your menstrual cycle occurs every 21 to 35 days and lasts from 2 to 7 days. However, perimenopause periods can last much longer. Some months, the ovaries might not produce sufficient levels of estrogen and progesterone, preventing menstruation altogether. Other months, the imbalance might cause the uterine lining to become overly thick, which means it will take longer to be shed by your body to shed.
Excessive bleeding and long periods are fairly common during perimenopause. Many women experience an increased flow and extended perimenopause periods before entering menopause.
If youve had periods that are several days longer or more frequent or heavier than usual, its a good idea to see your doctor.
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How Long Does Menopause Last After Monthly Cycles End
Symptoms typically increase during the first year after menopause begins . Hot flashes, chills, mood and sleep issues, and weight gain are all likely to increase during this time period. However, the exact onset of these symptoms can vary, with some women experiencing them during the six years prior to the loss of a monthly cycle. On average, these symptoms can last for around four to five years after the beginning of menopause.
What Are The Symptoms Of Perimenopause
During perimenopause, you can experience a variety of symptoms. The reason: Your ovaries have been making estrogen since your first period. During perimenopause, the estrogen production decreases substantially. Your body has to adjust to functioning with less of the hormone, putting you into estrogen withdrawals. The type and intensity of symptoms vary greatly among women some just feel a little off or don’t notice anything at all.
Others can experience perimenopausal symptoms including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling irritable, anxious or depressed
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
About 80 percent of women will experience some form of a hot flash during perimenopause or menopause. Hot flashes happen when your brain has trouble regulating your internal temperature, which is a common response to having less estrogen. The shift in temperature may not be noticeable. Or, it may feel like someone cranked up the thermostat on your core body temperature. You suddenly feel uncomfortably hot and sweaty, or you may wake up drenched in sweat .
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Causes Of Hot Flushes
Hot flushes usually affect women who are approaching the menopause and are thought to be caused by changes in your hormone levels affecting your body’s temperature control.
They can happen without warning throughout the day and night, but can also be triggered by:
- eating spicy foods
- some health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid, diabetes and tuberculosis
How Do I Know If Changes In My Periods Are Normal Perimenopausal Symptoms Or Something To Be Concerned About
Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause . But other conditions can cause abnormalities in menstrual bleeding. If any of the following situations apply to you, see a doctor to rule out other causes.
- Your periods are changing to become very heavy, or accompanied by blood clots.
- Your periods last several days longer than usual.
- You spot or bleed after your period.
- You experience spotting after sex.
- Your periods occur closer together.
Potential causes of abnormal bleeding include hormonal imbalances, hormonal treatments, pregnancy, fibroids, blood-clotting problems or, rarely, cancer.
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Complementary Therapies For Hot Flushes
Women often turn to complementary therapies as a “natural” way to treat their hot flushes.
There’s some evidence that isoflavones or black cohosh may help reduce hot flushes.
But the research is patchy, the quality of the products can vary considerably, they can interfere with some medicines, and they can have side effects .
It’s important to talk to your doctor before you take a complementary therapy.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021
Menopause Symptoms At Age 40
For the vast majority of women, menopause symptoms dont start this early. If menopause happens before age 40, its called premature menopause. If it happens between age 40 and age 45, its known as early menopause. Fewer than 10 percent of women experience premature or early menopause.
But if youre in your early 40s and are regularly experiencing symptoms such as changes to your periods timing or flow, hot flashes, mood changes or sleep problems, dont ignore them. Talk with a womens health specialist.
A specialist like an OB-GYN or certified nurse-midwife can work with you to determine whether your symptoms are related to menopause, or another reason such as hormonal disorders or other health conditions.
Its Best Not To Ignore Any Changes That Cause You Distress
You may cringe at the thought of talking to your gynecologist about sex. But rest assured, there is no reason to feel awkward. If you’re dealing with these changes and are very much unhappy with them, talk to your doctor. Right now, this may be a conversation that needs to take place via telehealth due to the pandemic. If you feel dismissed, then Dr. Rowen encourages you to consider switching to another provider if at all possible. Go find someone who will listen to you and take your problems seriously, Dr. Rowen says. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan that may help you have a more fulfilling sex life, even after menopause.
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When To See A Gp
It’s worth talking to a GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you’re experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
They can usually confirm whether you’re menopausal based on your symptoms, but a blood test to measure your hormone levels may be carried out if you’re under 45.
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Putting On A Few Pounds
Many women do put on weight around the menopause, but it’s not inevitable and your weight shouldn’t keep going up. It’s estimated that the ‘average’ woman puts on about 5 lb after the menopause, but it doesn’t all go on straightaway. Certainly your metabolism does tend to slow down as you get older, so you burn up fewer calories. However, with small adjustments in your diet, you may well be able to avoid putting on weight.
The bad news is that even if you don’t put on weight, you might find that the menopause does cause your shape to change. There is evidence that you tend to shift more towards an ‘apple’ rather than a ‘pear’ shape around the menopause, with excess weight stored around your midriff. This can increase your risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes.
Treatment For Early Or Premature Menopause
There is no treatment available to make the ovaries start working again.
Rarely, the ovaries may spontaneously start working again, for reasons unknown. According to some studies, about one in 10 women who are diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency get pregnant, for reasons that are not yet clear.
Women with early menopause have a long period of postmenopausal life, which means they are at increased risk of health problems such as early onset of osteoporosis and heart disease. For this reason, it is recommended that they take some form of hormone therapy until they reach the typical age of menopause . This may be the combined oestrogen and progestogen oral contraceptive pill, or menopausal hormone therapy .
Either option treats menopausal symptoms and reduces the risk of early onset of osteoporosis and heart disease.
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How Long Do The Stages Of Menopause Last
Perimenopause typically lasts for four to six years, but it can last as long as 12 years for some women. In most cases, the onset occurs between ages 35-45. However, it can occur earlier or later in a minority of women. While they do remain potentially fertile during this time, it becomes far more difficult to conceive. Hot flashes, fatigue, chills, and other symptoms associated with menopause begin to emerge during this stage.
Hair Loss During Menopausal Transition
Hair loss during the menopausal transition can be just as dramatic as menopausal hair loss. The two are both related to the same changes in hormone levels. The menopausal transition is the time leading up to menopause and can last several years. During the menopausal transition, fluctuating hormones can cause some of the same symptoms typically associated with menopause.
Tips For Reducing Hot Flushes
You can try these tips to ease your symptoms:
- cut out or reduce coffee and tea
- stop smoking
- keep the room cool and use a fan if necessary
- if you feel a flush coming on, spray your face with cool water or use a cold gel pack
- wear loose layers of light cotton or silk clothes so you can easily take some clothes off if you overheat
- have layers of sheets on the bed, rather than a duvet, so you can remove them as you need to
- cut down on alcohol
- sip cold or iced drinks
- have a lukewarm shower or bath instead of a hot one
- if medicine is causing your hot flushes, talk to your doctor about other ways you can take it to avoid this side effect
Menopause Misery Can Last 14 Years Study Finds
The hot flashes that make menopause so miserable last an average of seven years, researchers found, and persist for an average of 10 years among African-American women.
The study is one of only a very few to look at how the symptoms of menopause affect women in real life, and what it reveals is not promising.
This study suggests that very short-term treatment may not control womens hot flashes and night sweats for their total duration, said Dr. JoAnn Manson of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The study of more than 1,400 women found that hot flashes and night sweats last on average nearly seven and a half years. But some women suffer hot flashes and night sweats for 14 years.
This study suggests that very short-term treatment may not control womens hot flashes and night sweats.”
And women who start having these symptoms earlier usually suffer them for longer than the average, Nancy Avis of Wake Forest Universitys school of medicine and colleagues found.
They looked at a detailed study of women from various U.S. ethnic groups who were interviewed between 1996 and 2013. They focused on 1,449 of them who had frequent vasomotor symptoms, better known as hot flashes.
These women said they suffered their symptoms on at least six days over the previous two weeks, the researchers report in their study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Associations JAMA internal Medicine.
Women may need more than one treatment to control their symptoms, Manson said.
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Menopause And Hair Loss: Whats The Connection
When entering the years of menopausal transition, it is a good idea to check the bodys hormone levels. This can help explain symptoms such as hair loss.
When a person experiences hair loss and other symptoms of menopause, it is predominantly due to hormonal changes. With age, the ovaries begin to decrease the amount of sex hormones that are normally produced. As the body responds to the fluctuations in hormones, numerous physical changes occur. Menopausal hair loss is directly related to the decreased production of estrogen and progesterone.
As these hormone levels drop, hair may begin to grow more slowly and become thinner. Over time, the decrease in estrogen and progesterone causes an increase in the activity of male hormones that the body makes. Androgens cause the hair follicles on the head to shrink, which leads to hair loss. These are the same hormones that are responsible for increased facial hair growth in menopausal people.
Among other factors that contribute to hair loss are lack of nutrients, stress, and illness. A health care provider may suggest tests for basic blood count, thyroid function, or hormone levels to identify the cause of hair loss.
How Long Do Symptoms Last
Perimenopausal symptoms can last four years on average. The symptoms associated with this phase will gradually ease during menopause and postmenopause. Women whove gone an entire year without a period are considered postmenopausal.
Hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, are a common symptom of perimenopause. One study found that moderate to severe hot flashes could continue past perimenopause and last for a
Researchers also found that Black women and women of average weight experience hot flashes for a longer period than white women and women who are considered overweight.
Its possible for a woman to experience menopause before the age of 55. Early menopause occurs in women who go through menopause before theyre 45 years old. Its considered premature menopause if youre menopausal and are 40 years old or younger.
Early or premature menopause can happen for many reasons. Some women can go through early or premature menopause because of surgical intervention, like a hysterectomy. It can also happen if the ovaries are damaged by chemotherapy or other conditions and treatments.
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Symptoms Of Premature And Early Menopause
The symptoms of early menopause are the same as for menopause at the typical age and can include:
- menstrual cycle changes, including changes to the usual bleeding pattern, particularly irregular bleeding
- hot flushes
How Can I Predict When Ill Go Through Menopause
We all have a unique hormonal profile, so calculating when exactly a woman will go through menopause is tricky. The best predictor is your family history. Many women stop menstruating and experience menopause around a similar age as their mothers. In cases of early menopause, women are 60% more likely to start menopause sooner if they have a family history of early menopause.
Its a menopause myth that the older you are when you first menstruate, the older youll be when you go through menopause. Sometimes, its just the opposite. If you got your period later than average, you may begin menopause earlier.
Other factors that may influence the start of menopause are more or less within your control, depending on your circumstances. These include poor nutrition that can lead to hormonal imbalance exposure to environmental toxins that are absorbed into the body and disrupt hormonal activity smoking and chronic, long-term stress.
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When Does Perimenopause Start
The average age of menopause is 51, and perimenopause symptoms typically begin about four years before your final period. Most women start to notice perimenopause symptoms in their 40s. But perimenopause can happen a little earlier or later, too. The best predictor of when your final period will be is the age at which your mother entered menopause .
Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.
- hormone replacement therapy tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.
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