Even though most women know to expect menopause sometime in their 40s or 50s (average age is 52), determining when menopause is actually beginning can be difficult. Knowing what symptoms to expect is a good way to get a general idea of where your body is on its own “menopause timeline.”
Menopause is a natural change, but the symptoms it causes can be unpleasant, altering your sleep, your mood, and your energy levels. As a leading provider of women’s health services in San Antonio, Texas, Bluebonnet OB/GYN offers comprehensive menopause care and treatment, helping women navigate menopause while preserving optimal health and wellness. Here are signs that you may be nearing menopause.
Early menopause symptoms
Menopause symptoms begin in the months leading up to menopause — a time called perimenopause. Most women experience at least a few symptoms, but few women will experience all of the symptoms on this list. If you’re concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing, scheduling a visit with Bluebonnet OB/GYN is the best way to make sure the changes you’re going through are normal, and not an indicator of a medical problem.
Your periods may not occur on a regular schedule like they used to, you may have spotting between periods, or your menstrual flow may be heavier than normal. Some women develop menorrhagia — extremely heavy periods that can interrupt their sleep and increase their risk of anemia.
Hot flashes can occur anytime during the day, and they can vary in how long they last. Hot flashes at night can cause “night sweats,” making it harder to get a good night’s sleep.
Many women find it’s harder to fall asleep, harder to stay asleep, and harder to get a really restful night’s sleep during perimenopause. Lack of sleep can make many other symptoms seem worse.
Moodiness or irritability
Feeling depressed or moody is another relatively common “side effect” of perimenopause. Poor sleep habits can make this symptom a lot worse.
Some women find it harder to concentrate during perimenopause, or they may have minor memory problems.
Perimenopause can cause a significant shift in your metabolism, leading to weight gain that usually occurs around the belly or waist area. You may also have a loss of muscle mass, making it harder to burn off calories
Vaginal dryness or discomfort
Estrogen helps maintain the moisture and tone of the vaginal walls. As estrogen levels fall, the vagina walls can become thinner and drier, leading to itching, burning, and discomfort. Many women experience vaginal pain during intercourse, and the thin vaginal walls may become irritated and bleed.
Loss of interest in sex
Estrogen plays a major role in sexual health, so it’s not surprising that when estrogen levels decline, so does your sex drive. Vaginal discomfort can exacerbate a disinterest in sex.
Loss of tone in the pelvic organs and the supportive pelvic muscles can lead to urinary incontinence. Even minor urinary incontinence can make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious.
Skin and hair changes
As you near menopause, you might notice your skin is thinner and drier, and your hair may begin to thin out or become drier, as well.
Many women experience a loss of breast fullness, or their breasts may itch or become very tender.
Less obvious changes
The decline in estrogen can cause other changes, too. Although you may not notice it, your bone dentistry can decline, as well, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Your cholesterol levels may also change, which means you might be at an increased risk of heart disease.
Not surprisingly, fertility levels usually drop in the months leading up to menopause, but that doesn’t mean you should stop using birth control. Until you are actually, completely in menopause, you can still become pregnant, so don’t stop using birth control until menopause is confirmed.
Keep menopause symptoms under control
You may not be able to avoid menopause, but you can manage the symptoms it causes. The team at Bluebonnet OB/GYN offers customized menopause treatment plans to help women improve their symptoms and maintain their health and wellness, no matter what Mother Nature throws their way. If you think you might be having menopause symptoms, call us at 210-698-0742 to request an appointment and find out how we can help you.