Menopause - Another Change in Life
A Major Turning Point
Menopause is a transition between two times of life for women. It is not a disease or an illness. Menopause occurs when a woman permanently stops menstruating (having periods). Many women experience a variety of symptoms as a result of the hormonal changes associated with the transition through menopause. Women often also lose bone density around the time of menopause, and their cholesterol profile may worsen, increasing their risk of heart disease.
Symptoms of Menopause
As most women approach menopause, their menstrual periods become irregular - they happen closer together and/or further apart. Other common symptoms include
A woman may have one, some, or none of these symptoms. Symptoms can be very unpredictable and disturbing if a woman doesn't know they are related to menopause. A woman's experiences during menopause may also be influenced by other life changes:
children leaving home
changes in domestic, social, and personal relationships
changes in identity and body image
divorce or widowhood
increased anxiety about illness, aging, and death
loss of friends, loved ones, and financial security
increased responsibility for aging parents
anxiety about loss of independence, disability, or loneliness
Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
Hot flashes are sudden or mild waves of upper body heat that last from 30 seconds to five minutes. They are caused by rapid changes in hormonal levels in the blood. Hot flashes can start with a tingling sensation in the fingers or rapid heart beats. Skin temperatures rapidly rise from the chest to the face and may cause facial redness and sweating.
Seventy-five out of 100 women experiencing perimenopause have hot flashes. Half have one each day. Twenty out of 100 women have more than one a day. Ten out of 100 have them up to five years after menopause. They are very uncommon after that. Hot flashes that happen during sleep may include drenching sweats that can soak the bedding. These are called night sweats.
PMS is believed to affect between one-third and one-half of all American women between the ages of 20-50. The symptoms begin 10-14 days before the onset of menstruation and usually become progressively worse until menstruation begins. If you suspect you have PMS, record the symptoms you are experiencing along with the days of your period on a calendar for several months. If the symptoms always occur in the latter half of the menstrual cycle, chances are strong that they are caused by PMS.
Although more than 150 symptoms have been documented, the most common symptoms of PMS can be put into four main groups:
1- Anxiety: irritability, mood swings and nervous tension.
2- Depression: insomnia, lethargy and confusion.
3- Bloating: weight gain, headaches and breast tenderness.
4- Increase in appetite: cravings for sugar and/or salt and fatigue.