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Monday, September 1, 2014
Women may have different signs or symptoms at menopause. That is because estrogen is used by many parts of your body. So, as you have less estrogen, you could have various symptoms. Here are the most common changes you might notice at midlife. Some may be part of aging rather than menopause.
Change in your period. This might be what you notice first. Your periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. You might bleed less than usual or more. These are all normal changes, but to make sure there is no problem, see your doctor if:
Hot flashes. Many women have hot flashes around the time of menopause. They may be related to changing estrogen levels. Hot flashes may last a few years after menopause. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper part or all of your body. Your face and neck become flushed. Red blotches may appear on your chest, back, and arms. Heavy sweating and cold shivering can follow. Flashes can be very mild or strong enough to wake you from your sleep. These are called “night sweats”. Most hot flashes last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes.
Problems with your vagina and bladder. Changing estrogen levels can cause your genital area to get drier and thinner. This could make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Or, you could have more vaginal or urinary infections. Some women find it hard to hold their urine long enough to get to the bathroom. Sometimes urine leaks during exercise, sneezing, coughing, laughing, or running.
Sleep. Around midlife, some women start having trouble getting a good night's sleep. Maybe you cannot fall asleep easily, or you wake too early. Night sweats might wake you up. You might have trouble falling back to sleep if you wake during the night.
Sex. You may find that your feelings about sex are changing. You could be less interested. Or, you could feel freer and sexier after menopause. After 1 full year without a period, you can no longer become pregnant. But remember, you could still be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea or even HIV/AIDS. You increase your risk for an STD if you are having sex with more than one person or with someone who is having sex with others. If so, make sure your partner uses a condom each time you have sex.
Mood changes. You might find yourself more moody or irritable around the time of menopause. Scientists do not know why this happens. It is possible that stress, family changes such as growing children or aging parents, a history of depression, or feeling tired could be causing these mood changes.
Your body seems different. Your waist could get larger. You could lose muscle and gain fat. Your skin could get thinner. You might have memory problems, and your joints and muscles could feel stiff and achy.
Are these a result of having less estrogen or just related to growing older? Experts do not know the answer.
For additional information about menopause:
What About My Heart and Bones?
How Can I Stay Healthy After Menopause?
What About Those Lost Hormones?
Do Phytoestrogens Help?
How Do I Decide What to Do?
Many research studies are underway to help us learn about menopause. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:
Last Reviewed: Apr 24, 2013