Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
One of the major symptoms of menopause, hot flashes can make your whole body uncomfortably warm for a minute or more. Your face flushes, you perspire, and it feels like your heart is racing. You may wake up hot and sweaty at night, even though your room is cool.
What to do: To reduce the discomfort of hot flashes, dress in layers during the day, and in light pajamas at night. Keep a cool bottle of water close at hand, and use an ice pack to cool your pillow at night.
An Introduction To Menopause Symptoms
Symptoms of the menopause can vary considerably from one person to the next. This page describes the 6 most common symptoms as compiled from questions asked at the A.Vogel menopause helpline.
It also gives a brief description of the less common symptoms you can expect when going through the menopause.
However, bear in mind that even if you are the typical age, your symptoms may not be due to the menopause. If in any doubt, make an appointment with your doctor.
Whats The First Sign Of Perimenopause
The first perimenopause sign is typically a disruption of your menstrual cycle. For many women, your period starts earlier or later than normal. For example, if your menstrual cycle has always been 28 days, during perimenopause, your period could come as early as 21 or as late as 35 days. Some women start skipping months entirely and then experience heavier-than-normal periods when they do have them.
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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.
What Is The Perimenopause
The period from when you begin to get menopausal signs and symptoms to when your periods ultimately end completely is called the perimenopause. Throughout the perimenopause the ovaries begin to function erratically and slowdown in work. Your periods will become irregular and can become lighter or heavier than regular periods. You might also have signs and symptoms of estrogen shortage, such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and sweats.
The perimenopause can last about 4 to 8 years on an average, until a womans final period. You are considered to be postmenopausal once youve had 12 continuous months of no periods.
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Hormone Levels Fluctuate Leading To Menopause
As you approach menopause, the production of female hormones by the ovaries starts to slow down. Hormone levels tend to fluctuate, and you may notice changes in your menstrual cycle such as:
- period cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular
- bleeding may become lighter
- bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy .
Eventually, your hormone levels will fall to a point where your ovaries stop releasing eggs, your periods stop and menopause is reached.Although fertility after the age of 45 is low, you still need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy. Its recommended to continue contraception until you have had one year without a natural period if youre over 50 years old, or two years without a natural period if youre under 50.
Hormone Treatment And Therapy
Estrogen and progesterone therapy
Hormone therapy , or menopausal hormone therapy , consists of estrogens or a combination of estrogens and progesterone . This was formerly referred to as hormone replacement therapy . Hormone therapy controls the symptoms of menopause-related to declining estrogen levels , and HT is still the most effective way to treat these symptoms. But long-term studies of women receiving combined hormone therapy with both estrogen and progesterone were halted when it was discovered that these women had an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer when compared with women who did not receive HT. These risks were most pronounced in women over 60 taking hormone therapy. Later studies of women taking estrogen therapy alone showed that estrogen was associated with an increased risk for stroke, but not for heart attack or breast cancer. Estrogen therapy alone, however, is associated with an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women who have not had their uterus surgically removed.
Hormone therapy is available in oral , transdermal forms . Transdermal hormone products are already in their active form without the need for “first pass” metabolism in the liver to be converted to an active form. Since transdermal hormone products do not have effects on the liver, this route of administration has become the preferred form for most women.
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First Signs Of Menopause 2020 Update
The below common signs of menopause I have experienced myself and are symptoms you can look out for. From talking with my friends and my mother, not all women have or had symptoms of menopause like these. Id say, these are severe symptoms, and are not to be taken for granted. Also, doctors say that a woman is in full-blown menopause after she has not had a period for one full year.
Menopause At A Glance
- Every woman is affected by menopause in some way either they experience symptoms or other physical changes.
- The average age of menopause is 51 years but you can enter menopause earlier.
- Hormonal changes cause menopausal symptoms.
- Most women will have some symptoms.
- Most women have symptoms for 5 to 10 years.
Menopause occurs when you have not had a menstrual period for 12 months. Menopause is a natural part of life occurring at around age 51 years but can also happen for other reasons including after:
- surgery to remove ovaries and/or your womb/uterus
- radiotherapy to your pelvis.
At menopause, you stop producing oestrogen and this can lead to menopausal symptoms. Oestrogen levels can vary in the time leading up to the final menstrual period .
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What Are The Stages Of Menopause
- Perimenopause typically occurs 3-5 years prior to the start of menopause. This stage occurs when your estrogen levels begin to drop and your body begins the transition towards menopause. You can still get pregnant during perimenopause.
- Menopause is confirmed to have started after youve missed your period for 12 consecutive months. Though every woman is unique and will experience this transition differently, most women enter menopause when they are 51 or 52.
- Postmenopause includes the time after menopause. Estrogen levels continue to decline during this stage, which can cause some menopausal symptoms to linger.
Overactive Bladder Or Discomfort
Women can also find they have bladder changes during menopause. If you have this symptom, you might find you need to urinate more often, you cant hold on or your bladder might feel full and uncomfortable.
What can you do about your symptoms?
Understanding menopause and developing a strategy to manage your symptoms can improve your health and lifestyle.
If your symptoms are bothering you, your doctor can help. Your doctor can tell you about the changes in your body and offer options for managing your symptoms. Many treatment options are available and include:
- Non-hormonal treatment options
- Complementary therapies
If you have any concerns or questions about options to manage your menopausal symptoms, visit your doctor or go to the Find an AMS Doctor on the AMS website.
NOTE: Medical and scientific information provided and endorsed by the Australasian Menopause Society might not be relevant to an individuals personal circumstances and should always be discussed with their own healthcare provider. This Information Sheet may contain copyright or otherwise protected material. Reproduction of this Information Sheet by Australasian Menopause Society Members, other health professionals and their patients for clinical practice is permissible. Any other use of this information must be agreed to and approved by the Australasian Menopause Society.
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Lifestyle Factors In Controlling The Symptoms And Complications Of Menopause
Many of the symptoms of menopause and the medical complications that may develop in postmenopausal women can be lessened or even avoided by taking steps to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Regular exercise can help protect against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Exercise also has proven mental health benefits.
- Stop smoking
Which types of doctors treat menopausal symptoms?
The symptoms of menopause are often treated by a womanâs gynecologist. Primary care providers, including family medicine specialists and internists, may also treat the symptoms of menopause.
What Are Some Of The Lesser Known Symptoms Of Menopause
Menopause comes with many minor and major changes. Some women manage to get through the process with only a little discomfort. Others may be slammed with multiple symptoms, many of which occur gradually over time so that they may not even notice that theyre happening, or that one may be linked to the other.
Most menopausal changes are caused by the decline of three hormones; estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Progesterone and estrogen, produced by the ovaries, not only prepare a woman for reproduction during her childbearing years, but they impact the rest of her bodys health, both physically and emotionally. During menopause, the adrenal glands continue to produce testosterone, but those levels also decrease with age.
Some of the most common symptoms of menopause are:
The following menopausal symptoms are not as common, but are also usually caused by the same hormonal shifts:
Hormonal changes during menopause can contribute to several serious conditions in women, including:
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What Tests Diagnose Menopause
Because hormone levels may fluctuate greatly in an individual woman, even from one day to the next, hormone levels are not a reliable method for diagnosing menopause. There is no single blood test that reliably predicts when a woman is going through the menopausal transition, so there is currently no proven role for blood testing to diagnose menopause. The only way to diagnose menopause is to observe the lack of menstrual periods for 12 months in a woman in the expected age range.
How Is Menopause Diagnosed
There are several ways your healthcare provider can diagnose menopause. The first is discussing your menstrual cycle over the last year. If you have gone a full year without a period, you may be postmenopausal. Another way your provider can check if you are going through menopause is a blood test that checks your follicle stimulating hormone level. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland this gland is located at the base of your brain. However, this test can be misleading during the beginning of menopause when your body is transitioning and your hormone levels are fluctuating up and down. Hormone testing always need to be interpreted in the context of what is happening with the menstrual period.
For many women, a blood test is not necessary. If you are having the symptoms of menopause and your periods have been irregular, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to diagnose menopause after your conversation.
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How To Deal With Menopause Symptoms
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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.
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Early Signs Of Menopause
So, menopause isnt exactly the hottest topic at happy hour.
Even though more women are comfortable talking about bodily changes nowadays, anything regarding periods has been wrapped up in so much shame and taboo that many of us dont know what to expect when it comes to going through this natural phase of life.
Unless youve already seen a keen menopause specialist who has given you the low-down, you may be feeling a bit in the dark as you approach this next chapter; and being that space of not-knowing can be puzzling, frustrating and a little scary when your body is establishing a new equilibrium.
So, to give you an idea of what the menopause journey looks like weve asked womens health experts to describe what they have found to be the most common symptoms associated with menopause.
But first, lets set the record straight on some frequently confused menopause lingo:
Keeping Cool And Staying Comfortable
Dress in loose, layered clothing, especially during the nighttime and during warm or unpredictable weather. This can help you manage hot flashes.
Keeping your bedroom cool and avoiding heavy blankets at night can also help reduce your chances of night sweats. If you regularly have night sweats, consider using a waterproof sheet under your bedding to protect your mattress.
You can also carry a portable fan to help cool you down if youre feeling flushed.
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At What Age Does A Woman Typically Reach Menopause
The average age of menopause is 51 years old. However, there is no way to predict when an individual woman will have menopause or begin having symptoms suggestive of menopause. The age at which a woman starts having menstrual periods is also not related to the age of menopause onset. Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, but menopause may occur as earlier as ages 30s or 40s, or may not occur until a woman reaches her 60s. As a rough “rule of thumb,” women tend to undergo menopause at an age similar to that of their mothers.
Symptoms and signs related to the menopausal transition such as irregularities in the menstrual cycle, can begin up to 10 years prior to the last menstrual period.
What Are Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be a pretty unpleasant symptom of perimenopause and menopause. We dont totally understand the cause of hot flashes.
Most people describe a hot flash as a sudden hot feeling that spreads all over your body but mostly the upper body, like your arms, chest, and face. You may also get sweaty, and your fingers may tingle and your heart may beat faster. A typical hot flash usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.
Hot flashes at night are called night sweats. Sometimes they can get so severe that you soak your sheets with sweat.
Hot flashes are super common. More than 3 out of 4 people have them while going through perimenopause and menopause.
Nothing will make hot flashes stop completely, but there are some things you can do to help get some relief. Wearing light, loose clothes, keeping your room cool, drinking cold liquids, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help you stay cool.
Prescription hot flash treatments can be helpful, too. Hormone therapy works best to treat hot flashes, but other medicines like SSRIs and SNRIs and clonidine may also help. Research shows that herbs, vitamins, acupuncture, and reflexology dont help with hot flashes.
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Increased Risk Of Some Health Conditions
After menopause, the risk of certain health issues appears to increase. Menopause does not cause these conditions, but the hormonal changes involved may play some role.
Osteoporosis: This is a long-term condition in which bone strength and density decrease. A doctor may recommend taking vitamin D supplements and eating more calcium-rich foods to maintain bone strength.
Cardiovascular disease: The American Heart Association note that, while a decline in estrogen due to menopause may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, taking hormone therapy will not reduce this risk.
Breast cancer: Some types of breast cancer are more likely to develop after menopause. Menopause breast cancer, but hormonal changes involved appear to increase the risk.
Skin changes can also occur around the time of menopause. Find out more.
Is Having A Hard Time Concentrating And Being Forgetful A Normal Part Of Menopause
Unfortunately, concentration and minor memory problems can be a normal part of menopause. Though this doesnt happen to everyone, it can happen. Doctors arent sure why this happens. If youre having memory problems during menopause, call your healthcare provider. There are several activities that have been shown to stimulate the brain and help rejuvenate your memory. These activities can include:
- Doing crossword puzzles and other mentally stimulating activities like reading and doing math problems.
- Cutting back on passive activities like watching TV.
- Getting plenty of exercise.
Keep in mind that depression and anxiety can also impact your memory. These conditions can be linked to menopause.
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Menopause Symptoms At Age 45
Around the age of 45 many women enter pre-menopause and start to notice the first signs that menopause is coming. For some women, the symptoms are mild and short-lasting. For others, menopause symptoms can be disruptive and long-lasting.
Some of the earliest signs of menopause may include:
Changes to your period
Period changes are usually the first signs of menopause. For example, your period may start to happen every six to eight weeks. Or you may miss a couple months before it comes back again. You may also have a heavier flow or a lighter flow from time to time.
That said, its important to know you can still get pregnant during perimenopause. So, continue to use birth control in the lead up to menopause as you normally would. Also, if youve missed your period and youre not sure whether perimenopause has started, consider taking a pregnancy test as a first step.
As your hormone levels change, you may find yourself more irritable, anxious, sad or forgetful than usual. Your sex drive can also decrease or increase.
These changes are very typical as your body approaches menopause. So, be kind to yourself, practice self-care and ask for help if youre having trouble.
You may find it difficult to get to sleep, or you may wake up in the middle of the night. Sleep trouble can contribute to a constant feeling of tiredness, which can make you moodier.
Changes To Your Periods
The first sign of the menopause is usually a change in the normal pattern of your periods.
You may start having either unusually light or heavy periods.
The frequency of your periods may also be affected. You may have them every 2 or 3 weeks, or you may not have them for months at a time.
Eventually, you’ll stop having periods altogether.
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Menopausal Symptoms & Culture
There is research to suggest that women from different cultures can experience menopausal symptoms differently from one another. For example, hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and aches and pains are the most common symptoms reported by women from Western cultures, whereas studies show that women from Asian cultures report fewer hot flushes, but more aches and pains, insomnia and mood changes.
It is unclear if these differences are physiological differences in symptoms, or the result of women not feeling comfortable or confident to talk about menopausal symptoms because of cultural taboos. However, there clearly are vast differences in how women from different cultures view menopause. For example, African and Aboriginal women might view menopause more positively as the end of their reproductive life, but the beginning of their role as cultural leaders while, in contrast, women from some Western cultures might view menopause more negatively, as the end of their reproductive years as well as their sexual desirability, leaving them with a sense of grief and loss.
What Is Perimenopause Its When Menopause Symptoms Begin
Perimenopause or pre-menopause is a word that means around menopause. Perimenopause describes what happens to your body leading up to menopause. This stage typically starts about four to eight years before menopause.
When you enter perimenopause youll probably start to notice some early menopause symptoms like changes to your period or mood shifts. These changes happen because your bodys estrogen and progesterone levels are starting to naturally decline. As your ovaries produce lower amounts of these hormones, your body adapts. Its basically the reverse of what happened to your hormones as a teenager.
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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, including:
- 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 can refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms don’t improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.
If the flushes and sweats are frequent or severe, your GP may suggest taking HRT.
If HRT isn’t suitable for you, or you would prefer not to have it, your GP may recommend other medications that can help, such as clonidine or certain antidepressants.
These medications can cause unpleasant side effects, so it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before starting treatment.
Getting A Good Nights Sleep During The Menopausal Transition
To improve your sleep through the menopausal transition and beyond:
- Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day.
- Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening if you can. It may keep you awake at night.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
- Try not to watch television or use your computer or mobile device in the bedroom. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- Exercise at regular times each day but not close to bedtime.
- Stay away from caffeine late in the day.
- Remember, alcohol wont help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.
If these changes to your bedtime routine dont help as much as youd like, you may want to consider cognitive behavioral therapy. This problem-solving approach to therapy has recently been shown to help sleep disturbances in women with menopausal symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be found through a class or in one-on-one sessions. Be sure that your therapy is guided by a trained professional with experience working with women during their menopausal transition. Your doctor may be able to recommend a therapist in your area.