For most women, the process of menopause begins silently somewhere around age 40, when declining levels of estrogen and progesterone may cause menstruation to be less regular. The process also leads to other physical changes, such as reduced likelihood of pregnancy, onset of those proverbial “hot flashes,” and possible thinning of bones which could lead to osteoporosis.
As with adolescence, menopause involves yo-yoing hormones and is different for every woman. For most it occurs between the ages of 40 and 58 (51.4 on average). A few women reach menopause in their thirties (before 40 it’s called premature menopause; it can be induced surgically or by drug treatment), and a smaller number don’t reach menopause until they’re 60.
The most likely predictor of how you’ll experience menopause is how your mother or grandmother fared.
Perimenopause, the period preceding menopause, is often more dramatic than menopause itself.
Sign and Symptoms
During this preliminary phase, hormone levels fluctuate widely, causing a variety of symptoms, including:
Menstrual cycle changes: Menses can become heavier or lighter; occur more or less frequently; last longer or shorten in duration.
Mood changes:You may find yourself feeling more irritable, teary, emotionally-detached or worried than usual, or you may feel a vague sense of anxiety without a particular cause. Many women experience poor motivation and a general sense of fatigue.
Changes in appetite: You may experience food cravings (especially during the second half of your menstrual cycle), an increased appetite, or suffer from nausea.
Sleep disturbances:. Sleep problems can lead to feelings of depression, though many women may typically feel depressed at this time even without sleeping disturbances.
Urinary symptoms: You may find that you have to urinate more frequently, can’t get to the bathroom fast enough or sometimes sustain slight leakage when you sneeze, cough, or laugh. It’s also common to have increased incidence of urinary tract infections (UTIs), because of changes in the normal bacteria in your vagina.
Skin sensitivity: Some women experience “crawling” skin—a tingling, dry, or even burning sensation.
Joint & muscle aches and pains
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