Menopause is a natural event in the life of all women. However, each woman will experience their own combination of symptoms. Many women will experience few or mild symptoms, but others can have severe effects both physically and emotionally impacting on their work and home life. It’s important to remember that these effects are not an indication of your general health, but part of the process of your body changing.
Here are a few of the symptoms that can affect your body:
Hot flushes & night sweats
The most common symptoms encountered are hot flushes and night sweats. These are caused by changing hormone levels affecting the part of the brain that controls body temperature. Night sweats can also disrupt sleep patterns meaning that you’ll feel tired as well as experiencing other symptoms.
Changes in your menstrual cycle
It is rare that the menstrual cycle just stops suddenly. More often, the menstrual cycle becomes more irregular with longer, heavier or more painful periods. This change normally marks the first stage of the menopause – the perimenopause. Very heavy periods can indicate other gynaecological disorders so it is important to seek advice from your GP or from Hormone Health if you are concerned.
Other body changes
Lower testosterone levels can lead to reduced libido, which is often exacerbated by vaginal dryness.
Weight gain during menopause
It’s common, in the perimenopause, for women to experience weight gain. Changes in the balance of hormone levels impact on complex functions in the body and can result increase in weight gain, even with the same calorific intake.
Psychological impact of menopause
Just as changing hormone levels affect the way the brain controls body temperature, they also have a psychological impact and can cause mood swings, irritability, anxiety and low feelings. Some women also have trouble concentrating and experience forgetfulness during the menopause. The symptoms are not usually linked with later Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
‘The change’ often happens the same time as children leaving home (empty nest syndrome) which contributes to low mood.
Understanding the symptoms of menopause
Menopause symptoms can have a very significant effect on a woman’s work and home life. The menopause should not be considered as a time of life, which ‘you just have to get through’. There are a number of things you can do to help manage any symptoms, but it is also useful to understand what is happening to your body, as it goes through the menopause.
Symptoms often start before the age of 51, when the menopause is most likely to occur. However, some women experience an early menopause, so you should always consider seeking guidance from your healthcare professional.
A symptom diary is a resource that we regularly use with our patients as it is helps inform discussions with a timeline of events. The diary can also be used to monitor progress through the menopause and the impact of any treatments that may be used.
Unfortunately, the type, severity and how long the symptoms will last is unpredictable. However, there are a many lifestyle, complementary, medical and alternative options available and here at Hormone Health, we have specialists, who can advise women to optimise their progress through this significant stage of their life.