Symptoms of Menopause and Treatment Options
Long before your period becomes irregular or stops completely, many women experience symptoms of menopause. The symptoms can come on seemingly without warning--at any age—leaving many women suffering discomforts with no end in sight.
Before menopause comes perimenopause. Perimenopause typically lasts 4 to 8 years and is defined by the hormonal changes that occur as a woman’s body transitions into menopause. As the sex hormones decline, women begin to experience the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, including but not limited to: mood swings, low libido, weight gain, low energy, and poor sleep.
In fact, the list of possible symptoms is long. Experts have identified as many as 34 symptoms that may affect a woman as she enters menopause. It is unlikely that any woman would experience all 34 symptoms of menopause, but if you are experiencing the distress and discomfort of any of these symptoms, it’s time to talk to a doctor. There are highly safe and effective treatment options for women to address menopausal symptoms when they occur—your don’t have to live with the discomfort.
34 Symptoms of Menopause (and how to treat them)
Everyone knows about hot flashes. Hot flashes are the most renowned symptom of menopause, characterized by sudden and intense moments of feverish heat that can spread through the entire body, creating a flushing or redness, particularly on the face.
Irregular periods are a sign that menopause may be approaching. Irregular periods can occur for many years before menopause and are the result of an imbalance in the routine ebb and flow of progesterone and estrogen each month. Dips and surges in either hormone may cause your cycle to arrive early or late and last longer than it expected. You might also experience heavier bleeding or a lighter flow than usual due to the hormonal imbalance.
If you are experiencing that tired-all-the time feeling that simply won’t go away even when you slept long enough or well enough, is defined as chronic fatigue. It is a common symptom of menopause brought on by hormonal fluctuations. Chronic fatigue has a significant impact on your quality of life, limiting productivity, enthusiasm, and increasing stress.
If you have ever walked into a room and forgotten why you were there, you’ve experienced a lapse in memory. If scenarios like this are happening to you day in and day out, you may be experiencing another common symptom of menopause: foggy thinking or memory lapses.
Much like hot flashes, night sweats are among the most common symptoms of menopause. Night sweats are essentially hot flashes that occur at night. Much like hot flashes, night sweats are the result of a hormone imbalance. Night sweats disrupt the sleep cycle and contributes to increased stress or anxiety for many women.
Loss of Libido
A lagging sex drive can take on many forms as a symptom of menopause. Some women may find sex uncomfortable due to vaginal dryness, while other women simply have no interest in sex at all. Shifting hormone levels related to menopause are often to blame for low sex drive in women.
Low sexual desire in women is commonly linked to vaginal dryness. As the levels of estrogen decline before and during menopause, the natural moisture of the vagina begins to diminish. This effect can make natural lubrication difficult or even impossible, leaving many women in pain during sexual intercourse.
Erratic mood swings may occur when hormones that support neurotransmitters become imbalanced. GABA and serotonin are neurotransmitters that regulate the pain-pleasure centers of the brain and initiate feelings of calm. When hormones are out of balance, these neurotransmitters may be impaired leading to dramatic shifts in mood, such as extreme happiness to hysterical crying or intense anger to overwhelming sadness.
Characterized by near-paralyzing emotional episodes, panic disorders are the result of an irrational anxiety or fear. This disorder can be driven by fluctuations in hormone levels that occur before or during menopause. Signs of panic disorder include feelings of dread, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, and feelings of extreme terror.
Urinary Tract Infection
Vaginal bacteria changes occur when estrogen levels decline as a result of perimenopause or menopause. These changes may induce can induce an increase in urinary tract infections.
Feelings of extreme fullness, tightness or a swelling of the belly are classic signs of bloating and abdominal discomfort. Water retention commonly occurs when levels of estrogen rise. Estrogen can rise and fall throughout the perimenopausal period.
Hair Loss or Thinning
Low levels of estrogen may cause thinning hair or complete hair loss before or during menopause. Estrogen is required to keep hair follicles healthy and growing. As estrogen levels plummet with the onset of menopause, hair may become drier and more brittle, and break or fall out while brushing or showering.
Insomnia, restless sleep, sleep apnea, snoring, night sweats and more can occur with the onset of menopause. These occurrences are categorized as forms of sleep disorders and may worsen with the onset of menopause or intensify the physical and psychological changes that occur with menopause.
Women may experience frequent or lengthy dizzy spells as menopause approaches. Dizziness associated with menopause may come on suddenly and lead to dangerous falls. Some women experience quick spells of dizziness while other may be impacted by extended-length dizzy spells.
Hormonal changes that are common with the onset of menopause often lead to weight gain. This is because hormones impact the muscle development and the distribution of lean body mass versus fat mass. Menopausal changes often cause fat to collect in the belly, Exercise and healthy nutrition are an important component of a healthy lifestyle and reducing weight management challenges that occur for women approaching menopause.
Reduced levels of estrogen that occur with the onset of menopause may cause incontinence. Low estrogen thins the walls of the urethra leading to one of two types of incontinence: urinary incontinence, which occurs when pelvic floor failure causes urinary leakage when laughing, coughing, or sneezing; or overflow incontinence, which occurs when the body fails to sense bladder fullness and accidental leakage occurs due to an overly full bladder.
As production of estrogen slows, many women experience frequent and intense headaches. Headaches typically resolve when a woman reaches post menopause, but this brings little comfort considering that perimenopause may last 8 years.
Scientists are baffled by this symptom, but it is commonly reported in women during the perimenopausal and menopausal years: a metallic taste in the mouth accompanied by pain or burning. Experts know that shifts in estrogen levels contribute to the metallic taste but the root cause of the pain and burning on the tongue, lips, and gums remain a mystery.
Estrogen supports regulation of cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol are known to slow digestion. As estrogen levels decline before or during menopause, cortisol levels rise, slowing digestion. High cortisol contributes to bloating and abdominal discomfort in women.
Muscle tension during menopause is defined as tight or strained muscles in the neck, back and shoulders, or sudden increases in stiffness, aches, or soreness throughout the body.
Hormonal changes typically impact the immune system, making some women more sensitive to allergens. Allergies may come on mildly with exposure while other may be more intense, including rashes, itchy, watery eyes, cramping, swelling and more.
Low levels of estrogen that occur with the onset of menopause may cause nails to become brittle and dry. Just as estrogen is vital for healthy hair, it is also essential to keeping the nails long and strong.
Body Odor Change
Perimenopause and menopause may lead to an increased production of sweat due to the drop in estrogen levels. This decline sends false messages to the hypothalamus telling the body it is hot and therefore increasing sweat production to initiate cooling. This can lead to unexpected changes in body odor.
During the early stages of perimenopause and menopause, many women begin to lose collagen. Collagen production slows when estrogen levels drop. Collagen gives the skin a youthful appearance. Low levels can contribute to thin, dry, itchy and sagging skin.
Throughout life, estrogen inhibits bone resorption. As estrogen levels drop before and during menopause, bone loss may accelerate rapidly. This puts postmenopausal women at an increased risk of osteoporosis—a degenerative bone disorder, characterized by the weakening of the bone, and a general decrease in bone mass and density. Though it is impossible to rebuild bone density, women can maintain their current bone density by engaging in routine weight-bearing exercise and eating a balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals from plant sources.
Many women describe a tingling sensation in the arms, hands, legs, and feet that includes pain or a burning feeling. This has been correlated with hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause or menopause.
Insomnia has been shown to be the result of low progesterone levels, which may occur before or during menopause. However, many perimenopausal and menopausal women experience insomnia due to other symptoms that disrupt the sleep cycle, including night sweats, anxiety and panic disorders.
An inability to focus or difficulty concentrating can affect women throughout perimenopause and menopause. This symptom is generally most noticeable in the early stages of hormonal decline. However, it can be made worse by other symptoms, such as poor sleep or mood swings. Decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone, which both play a role in memory and focus are also contributing factors.
Estrogen deficiency can overstimulate the nervous and circulatory systems, causing irregular heartbeat, palpitations, and arrhythmias. This symptom should be reported to a medical professional immediately.
The drop in estrogen that occurs with perimenopause and menopause negatively influences the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that play a vital role in regulating mood. This can lead to anxiety and make it difficult to relax and find calm.
The declining levels of progesterone and estrogen that occur during perimenopause/menopause cause multiple symptoms that drastically change a woman’s quality of life—generally not for the better. This can result in feelings of sadness that may evolve into depression. Progesterone and estrogen also influence neurotransmitters that regulate mood. When levels of these hormones drop, menopausal women may also find it difficult to restore happiness and calm after bouts of sadness, anxiety, and irritability, which can also contribute to depression.
Breast pain and tenderness in one or both breasts are a side effect of the hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause. Breast soreness generally disappears once the menstrual cycle stops completely, and estrogen is no longer produced.
Falling estrogen levels are to blame for joint pain that may occur with menopause. Estrogen is believed to help manage inflammation levels throughout the body. Women may feel an aching or tingling in the fingers, tightness in the hips, soreness in the knees or swelling of various joints, as estrogen levels decline. This can lead to arthritis. Diminishing bone density may also contribute to joint pain and soreness during menopause. Routine physical activity and stretching can help reduce joint pain and swelling. A diet rich in plant-based nutrients and low in animal products can also fight arthritis pain.
Electric Shock Sensation
The fluctuating estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause can also cause an electric shock sensation in various parts of the body. This sensation is like the feeling of a rubber band snapping between your skin and muscle and often occurs as a precursor to hot flashes. These are usually brief, but quite unpleasant.
Finding Relief from Menopausal Symptoms
Reading through this list of symptoms that affect many women during perimenopause and menopause seems almost unbearable to fathom. Women may suffer from these symptoms for years—the average length of perimenopause is between 4 and 8 years. For an unlucky few, there is the possibility of a condition known as menopausal syndrome that causes the symptoms of menopause to continue well into the postmenopausal years. Women do not have to live with these uncomfortable symptoms at any age or stage in life. If you are suffering from these symptoms, you may have a hormonal imbalance. Fluctuating levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone not only cause great discomfort, but it also puts you at increased risk for disease. It’s time to stop living with these symptoms and the risks that accompany hormonal imbalance—call an expert in hormone health now.
Over the last several decades, hormone therapy has become the preferred treatment method for menopausal symptoms for thousands of physicians. More than 10 major medical organizations endorse hormone therapy as the best treatment for menopausal symptoms.
EVEXIAS Health Solutions is an emerging leader in preventive health therapies and methodologies. Our network of providers are certified and trained in the field of hormone health and hormone replacement therapy. The network is supported by industry leaders in custom pharmaceuticals, top-of-the-line nutraceuticals, and alternative medicine therapies that help patients achieve total wellness.
Don’t let uncomfortable symptoms of hormone imbalance rob you of all life has to offer. Reclaim your health and happiness—find a provider near you today.