Symptoms of Menopause

Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause a variety of symptoms. Because each woman experiences menopause differently, some have many symptoms and some have very few. Severity of symptoms also varies a great deal.

Symptoms include:

Irregular Periods

  • Shorter or longer cycles
  • Heavier or lighter bleeding
  • Spotting in between periods
  • Irregular ovulation
  • Reduced fertility

Hot Flashes

  • Reported in up to 80% of American women
  • Sudden onset of a feeling of heat
  • Face and neck flush
  • Lasting 30 seconds to five minutes
  • Occurring at any time
  • Usually stop within a few years after menopause

Vaginal and Bladder Problems

  • Skin in genital area becomes drier and thinner
  • Sexual intercourse may become painful
  • Vaginal infection potential increases
  • Urinary tract problems may occur, such as infection and incontinence

Changes in Sexuality

  • Attitude toward sex may change
  • Diminished interest in sex
  • Arousal and comfort may be issues
  • Liberation from concerns about pregnancy (but should use birth control until one year after last period)
  • Risk of sexually transmitted diseases remains

Fatigue and Sleep Problems

  • Normal sleep patterns may be interrupted
  • Early morning awakening

Mood Changes

  • Irritability and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress and change in family dynamics may contribute to mood problems

Visible Changes in Your Body

  • Thickening at the waist
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increase in fat
  • Loss of elasticity in the skin

Other Potential Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Joint and muscle stiffness or pain
  • Difficulty concentrating

References:

National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/ . Accessed February 14, 2006.

North American Menopause Society website. Available at: http://www.menopause.org/default.htm . Accessed February 15, 2006.



Last reviewed February 2007 by Jeff Andrews, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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