Menopause Symptoms

Written by Sarah Provost
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Menopause symptoms often start as early as age 35 to 38, during what is known as the perimenopausal period. They reach their peak in the early fifties, since the average age for menopause itself is 51. After that, they begin to subside, and the most obvious symptoms are usually gone by the mid-fifties.

Early Menopause Symptoms

As estrogen levels begin to decrease, fertility decreases as well. This is actually the first sign of menopause, but it might easily be unnoticed unless a woman is actively trying to conceive. The first noticeable symptom is irregularity in the menstrual cycle. While some women simply stop having periods, the vast majority goes through several years of irregular cycles first. Most commonly, the cycle shortens, with menstrual periods coming more frequently. Then periods begin to be skipped, and eventually cease.

Hot flashes are an almost unmistakable symptom of menopause, although it is possible that they can be brought on by certain medications. Sleep disorders are also menopause symptoms, often exacerbated by nocturnal hot flashes. Mood swings, irritability and anxiety are part of the menopausal syndrome; lowered estrogen levels are the primary cause, but sleeplessness may be a secondary cause.

In the later stages, menopause symptoms include changes in the vaginal tissue. As the tissue becomes drier and thinner, intercourse may become painful. Vaginal and bladder infections and irritations may also result from the change in the pH of vaginal secretions. In the post-menopausal years, heart disease and osteoporosis become primary concerns. These conditions may not display symptoms, so it is important to get regular medical checkups.

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