Menopause can affect your body in many ways – some are obvious, others are not. For World Menopause Day, Health Shots reached out to a gynecologist to understand some common signs of menopause.
What is menopause?
In medical terms, menopause indicates the end of menstrual cycle in women. Generally, the absence of menstrual periods for whole 12 months is diagnosed as menopause. The average age at which natural menopause occurs in females in India is 51.4 years.
Advancing age is not the only harbinger of menopause. It can also occur if the lady has undergone a complete oopherectomy – surgical removal of both ovaries. This medical procedure is done if the patient has ovarian cancer. Such type of menopause is termed as ‘Surgical menopause’ or ‘Artificial menoapuse’ .
In either cases, there are some signs and symptoms that the patient experiences during menopause.
5 common signs of menopause
According to Dr Sukirti Jain, senior consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, Vashi, women can recognize certain symptoms of menopause themselves. But it is best to confirm the onset of menopause via a hormonal analsyis.
Still, here are ways to recognize that you’ve hit menopause if you’re in your late 40s or early 50s.
1. Hot flashes
Experiencing phases of hot flashes intermittently is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. These can make your upper body, especially your face and neck to warm up more than usual. Sometimes, they are accompanied with excessive sweating. Hot flashes can last for 2-5 minutes. Wonder what causes it? Well, Dr Jain explains that lowering estrogen levels, which are a result of menopause, can trigger hot flashes among women.
It is very important to address that menopause can take a toll on a woman’s mental health too. Many women going through menopause and perimenopause (the time shortly before menopause) experience anxiety. “If a patient’s condition is severe, a doctor can prescribe them medications. But we advocate them to practice meditation, yoga and exercise. These habits have long-lasting benefits for our body and help to manage the symptoms of menopause,” says the expert.
Restlessness is another indicator of menopause. It can disturb your sleeping schedule. Dr Jain says that patients often complain about not being able to fall asleep easily or getting sound sleep often. These are all signs of the changes that may be going on in your reproductive organs. Practice meditation or Yoga Nidra to calm yourself down, suggests the expert.
4. Vaginal dryness
As you approach menopause, secretions by the glands present on the vulva – the external female genitalia – scale down. Hence, the natural lubrication of the vagina is reduced. The result? Vaginal dryness. This can also lead to vaginal itching in some patients, and can even impact one’s sex life. But, not always!
Also read: Orgasms after menopause: Yes, it’s possible!
Although few patients experience it, forgetfulness can also be one of the signs of menopause. As per Harvard Health Publishing, while cognitive aging is rarely considered a women’s health issue, it may have some link with reproductive aging. A research team indicates that menopause marks the reduction of ovarian hormones such as estradiol, the primary form of estrogen that works in the brain.
The last word
On World Menopause Day, Dr Jain says, “It is very important to note that not all patients experience the same symptom and with the same severity. So, there is no ‘one size, fits all’ treatment that healthcare providers administer. But there’s never a harm in eating healthy and exercising regularly!”