Menopause occurs when the menstrual periods of a woman come to an end. This happens as a result of the ovaries no longer producing the progesterone and estrogen hormones. After a woman has completely gone through menopause, she will no longer be able to get pregnant. The years leading up to the last period of a woman are often referred to as menopause. However, the correct name for this is actually perimenopause, or the menopausal transition. At Balcones Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Binford and her Austin team can help you determine if you have begun this transition.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
The effects of menopause are different for every woman. No symptoms are experienced by some women, but others go through a few types of changes. It is difficult to determine if these changes have anything to do with menopause, aging or both. If you begin to experience these signs of menopause, consult Dr. Binford for symptom relief options at our Austin OB/GYN clinic.
Sometimes referred to as hot flushes, the woman suddenly feels a sensation of heat throughout her entire body or just the upper part of it. Some redness may appear on her neck and face. There may also be red blotches that form on the arms, back and chest. This can be followed by cold shivering and heavy sweating.
A woman may have periods that happen more or less frequently than they did before. The color and thickness can also vary significantly from one period to the next. However, just because a couple of periods have been missed, it does not necessarily mean she is starting the menopausal transition.
Urinary and Vaginal Problems
During the time surrounding menopause, these problems can start or become more frequent. Low levels of estrogen may cause the walls of the vagina to become more thin and dry. Sex may also start to become uncomfortable. Urinary tract and vaginal infections can develop. Women may experience difficulty holding their urine until they are able to reach a toilet. This is known as urinary age incontinence. Urinary stress incontinence may also occur. This is when urine leaks out during a laugh, cough or sneeze.
A woman might have a hard time sleeping. Night sweats are also common. These are hot flashes that cause sweating during sleep. This will make a woman tired during the day.
Crying spells, feeling crabby or mood swings are all possibilities. If a woman experienced depression after giving birth or mood swings before her periods, this could make the woman more prone to mood-related issues surrounding menopause.
A woman’s bones become weak and thin. Broken bones and a loss of height are common in women with this problem.
A Change in Sexual Feelings
A drop in sexual arousal can be experienced. However, some women experience an increase in their sexual confidence. Because sex may become uncomfortable for some women, this may lead to less interest in sex.
Forgetfulness or difficulty focusing are possibilities. An increase in the size of the waist, gaining fat and loss of muscle could also be experienced. Muscles and joints can start to become achy and stiff. However, experts are not sure if these changes are caused by aging or the decrease in estrogen.
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