Menopause, commonly known as “the change of life”, is a normal process that women experience as they stop ovulating and menstruating and their reproductive period comes to an end. Because no two women experience menopause in the same way and some medical conditions can present with symptoms that can be confused with menopause, it’s important to discuss your experience with your doctor. Your doctor can guide you on how to best manage the symptoms that may come with your menopause. Vanguard Medical Group has outlined some common symptoms and complications of menopause so you can be well versed on what is normal and when to call your doctor.
Stages of Menopause
Menopause commonly occurs in the late 40’s or early 50’s and doesn’t occur all at once. That means that there are distinct stages that describe what is happening during these times. These stages include:
- Perimenopause: This stage is before menopause officially starts. You may notice that your menstrual periods are happening more irregularly. They may be occurring less often and you may be skipping periods. Your flow may also become heavier or lighter. Some women may start to experience other symptoms of menopause like hot flashes during this stage.
- Menopause: Once you have not menstruated for a full year, then you are officially in the menopause.
- Postmenopause: After you have completed menopause, you will enter this stage. Many women have relief of menopausal symptoms like hot flashes in this stage, but your risk for certain medical conditions increases.
Because your body is going through such a big change, there will inevitably be some distinct symptoms that will let you know that the process of menopause is starting. Each person’s body is different so there is not one uniform experience, but here are some common symptoms:
- Hot flashes: This may be one of the most well-known symptoms of menopause, affecting over 75% of women. These are characterized by random episodes of heat and sweating that can vary in intensity. Some women can have very intense and frequent hot flashes while others may have barely any hot flashes.
- Night Sweats: As the name suggests, night sweats are when you sweat while you sleep at night. If you wake up and notice that your clothes or sheets are damp, then you may be experiencing night sweats.
- Reduced Libido: As your body stops producing hormones during menopause, you may also lose interest in sex. This can also be accompanied with vaginal dryness and tightness, which can make sex painful.
- Insomnia: The changing hormone levels in your body and night sweats may also cause bouts of insomnia, where you are not able to get enough sleep. This lack of sleep can also trigger other symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.
Complications of Menopause
Menopause shares symptoms with several other medical conditions. While you are going through menopause, you may associate these symptoms with your body’s change and not another issue. You should look for certain complications such as:
- Vulvovaginal Atrophy: If you are experiencing pain during sex, you may be suffering from this condition, which includes vaginal dryness or inflammation.
- Osteoporosis: The lack of estrogen due to menopause is directly related to loss in bone density and increases a woman’s risk for osteoporosis.
- Urinary Incontinence, Frequency, and Burning: Menopause can be associated with urinary symptoms like needing to urinate frequently, loss of control of one’s bladder, and burning with urination. However, there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms that are not due to menopause like overactive bladder and urinary tract infections.
Receive Proper Care
If you are reaching the point in your life where you expect menopause to occur, it’s important to start looking out for the common symptoms. If you are unsure about what to expect, talking with a doctor about menopause can be helpful and reassuring. At Vanguard Medical Group, we specialize in women’s health and can provide comprehensive care and services for your condition. Contact one of our convenient locations to schedule an appointment and get the treatment you deserve today.