Menopause is a natural process in the life of women. It typically occurs in the early to mid-forties, and, unfortunately, it is accompanied by a number of symptoms that can cause women much concern. Learning to identify those symptoms for what they are, may be your first step to learning to deal with this new life stage.
One of the first and most noticeable symptoms of menopause is irregular or missed periods. At the onset of menopause, the body suffers a great decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels, stimulated by the ovaries. The ovaries are no longer signaled to release the egg, meaning that a woman will notice a disruption in her normal monthly cycle. Following puberty, the only occurring menstrual cycle disruptions are as a result of disease or other ovarian or pregnancy problems. However, once menopause begins, it is not uncommon to experience serious menstrual disruptions.
Another common symptom of menopause is the hot flash. Greater than seventy five percent of menopausal women suffer hot flashes, in varying degrees of severity. A hot flash makes a woman feel flush. For example, she may be in a room that is only seventy degrees, but she will feel the overwhelming sense that someone has turned the temperature up to ninety degrees. In an instant, she may feel as if the temperature has decreased by fifty degrees, and she is suddenly shivering. Hot flashes can be accompanied by other symptoms like faintness, dizziness, and heart palpitations. Many hot flashes can be up to ten minutes in duration, but not for all women all of the time. In some cases some women simply acknowledge them and keep functioning as if nothing is wrong. Extreme hormone fluctuations cause the hypothalamus to incorrectly regulate a woman’s body temperature. Factors such as poor diet and elevated stress levels have been shown to affect the entire process in a negative manner. Most women will experience hot flashes for five to six years, though there are women who endure them for the ten to twenty years prior to and following menopause.
Hot flashes commonly lead to another prevalent menopause symptom: insomnia. Because hot flashes can occur during the day as well as the night, many women will find themselves awoken drenched in their own sweat. Often they get up to change their clothes and their sheets due to the dampness caused by the sweat. If a woman is a light sleeper anyway, she might find it impossible to fall asleep again. Interestingly enough, though, night sweats are not the only cause of sleep disturbances. The blood hormone levels also affect the quality of a woman’s sleep. Adjusting these hormone imbalances can sometimes alleviate sleep difficulties.