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What are the Most Common Menopause Symptoms?

Article Details
  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Menopause represents the end of the fertile period for a woman. Doctors make a diagnosis of menopause once a woman goes without a menstrual period for 12 months. Common menopause symptoms include irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms which can have an impact on daily life.

Several circumstances can set menopause in motion. The most common reason for the appearance of menopause symptoms is aging. This is because of the natural decline in the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Other possible causes include a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments.

While menopause is defined as going without a period for at least 12 months, menopause symptoms typically appear prior to that. The period leading up to menopause is called perimenopause. Once menopause has commenced, the period afterwards is referred to as postmenopause.

Perimenopause is the stage preceding menopause when most women will begin to experience some of the common menopause symptoms. These signs and symptoms are commonly referred to as menopausal symptoms, even though they occur prior to menopause. This period of time can last several years. During this time a woman is still fertile and menstruates.

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Hot flashes are perhaps the most well-known sign of impending menopause. They can start many years before the other signs and symptoms of menopause emerge. Often interrupting sleep, hot flashes can occur at any time and last up to several minutes. Women often experience perspiration and flushing in the head, neck, and chest areas during and immediately following hot flashes.

Because of the fluctuation in hormones, a woman approaching menopause may find they have irregular periods. Periods of menstruation may be heavier or lighter than usual, and occur less frequently. Menstruation ceases permanently once a woman’s body stops producing eggs. At this point, a woman becomes infertile.

While the exact cause is unknown, many women may experience a host of mental problems in conjunction with other menopause symptoms. This includes memory problems, irritability, and mood swings. Lack of sleep because of hot flashes may be a contributing factor to emotional and mental changes.

There are a number of other changes a woman may notice as they approach menopause. Menopausal women may experience vaginal dryness, increased abdominal fat, and loss of breast fullness. Thinning hair is another possible sign of menopause.

Treatment for menopause is not medically necessary. Some women may prefer to seek treatment for relief of individual symptoms. This can include hormone therapy, antidepressants, and vaginal creams.

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