Menopause Center

Menopause Symptoms

The symptoms of menopause and perimenopause can affect women in different ways.  Some women experience very uncomfortable symptoms, whereas others manifest relatively few symptoms.  More so, symptoms can last for several years-usually 3 to 5 years--until estrogen and progesterone levels drop to permanent levels.  Some lifestyle choices, such as smoking, may increase the onset of symptoms by approximately 2 years. 

Early menopause symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of menopause or menopausal transition include:

  • Changes in periods (shorter or longer; heavier or lighter; more or less time in between)
  • Decrease in memory (short-term or more severe)
  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Decreased interest in sex (libido)
  • Difficulty in controlling the urinary bladder, especially when laughing, sneezing, coughing, or lifting objects
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss, and more hair growth on the face
  • Hot flashes, in which the ace and upper body feel hot, and the skin becomes flushed
  • Mood changes
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping through the night
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain

With the corresponding loss of estrogen, osteoporosis may occur, in which bones become weaker and are more easily broken, as well as an increase of risk for heart disease.  While osteoporosis and heart disease may not be strictly signs of perimenopause and menopause, they are complications that can occur as a result of these stages of life. 

When to seek help
Because of the variance and normality of symptoms, one woman may need to see a doctor for especially severe symptoms, but another woman may have no urgent need.  However, if symptoms of menopause or perimenopause seem especially severe, your doctor may be able to provide some help. 

As a woman ages, the body changes and greater attention to your health is needed.  But how do you know if you are going through perimenopause , menopausal transition or menopause?  Because symptoms can occur over years, it may be helpful to get a diagnosis.  Read here for more information about seeking help during the first signs of menopause in our Diagnosing Menopause section that follows. 

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