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11 symptoms that signal onset of menopause

11 symptoms that signal onset of menopause

Wondering what is causing irregular periods or night sweats? It could be the onset of menopause.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : October 26, 2015 9:36 AM IST

Hormonal changes at times can create havoc in a woman s life, and one such phase of her life is menopause. During menopause, ovaries, the pair of female reproductive organs which produce ova or egg and female reproductive hormones, cease to work. This gives rise to hormonal disruption and various unpleasant symptoms to deal with. Though the extent and severity of the symptoms vary, but they can be present long before one hits menopause and be as annoying post menopause. The probable symptoms are:

Irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding: There is no particular pattern of bleeding during the pre-menopausal phase. You may either experience heavy or frequent vaginal bleeding or have your periods placed far apart. This can continue for few years before your ovaries actually stop their work. This phase marks a decrease in fertility in women as ovulation becomes irregular.

Hot flashes: This is common among women undergoing menopause and those who have hit the phase. It is a feeling of warmth that spreads all over the body and is sometimes followed by perspiration. Though there are no definite factors that can say why it happens, but experts believe that a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations due to decline in estrogen levels, because of ceased ovarian function, could be a possible cause.

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Night sweats: Hot flashes and night sweats almost go hand in hand. Night sweats are episodes of drenching sweats during the night that disrupts sleep patterns and makes daytime tiredness unavoidable.

Vaginal problems: With the fall in estrogen levels, the lining tissues of the vagina becomes thinner, drier and less elastic. This may give rise to symptoms such as dryness, itching, irritation or pain during sexual intercourse. The changes in the lining tissues of the vagina also make it susceptible to a host of infections.

Problems in the urinary tract: Like the vagina, the lining of the urethra also undergoes similar changes due to the same reasons. This can lead to increased risk of urinary tract infection. One might also experience a need to urinate more frequently or even suffer from incontinence. Incontinence after menopause can result while coughing, laughing or while lifting heavy weights.

Low sexual drive: For menopausal women the sudden drop in sexual intimacy can be distressing. This happens due to hormonal imbalance, mostly because of androgen deficiency. Low sexual drive during menopause can also happen due to other menopause symptoms, such as vaginal dryness or depression, or by prescription drugs, including medication prescribed to treat menopause symptoms.

Breast changes: Hormonal changes can lead to breast pain, soreness, tenderness in one or both the breasts. These changes are noticeable even during pregnancy, post-partum, menstrual periods and are also present during pre- and post-menopausal phase.

Behavioural problems: Women hitting menopause can also suffer from memory problems, irritability, mood changes and extreme fatigue. Though it is difficult to draw a direct co-relation of behavioural upheavals and menopause, but these are most common symptoms of menopause. All these symptoms can also cause a dip in cognitive functions and emotional distress.

Weight gain: With menopause, the body fat distribution also changes. Fat gets deposited more on the waist and abdomen than on hips and thighs. Usually weight gain due to menopause becomes difficult to manage if ignored for a long time.

Other physical changes: 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 abdomen.

Weak bone health: Estrogen is involved the process of calcium absorption into the bones. Thus after menopause the chances of a woman suffering from osteoporosis are higher. Reduced bone density can also make women susceptible to fractures.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis.

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