Common Menopause Symptoms
From hot flashes to mood changes, you’ve probably heard about some of the most common menopause signs. However, every woman’s transition to menopause—or the end of her menstrual cycle—is different. Your symptoms may not be the same as your friend or loved one.
Wondering if your symptoms are normal? Find out what to expect and when it’s time to call your OB GYN.
Changes in your period
One of the biggest signs of approaching menopause is changes in your monthly cycle. This varies for each woman. You may go longer between periods or shorter. You may have lighter or heavier bleeding. Your period may only be a few days, or it could start to last several.
If you’re having a lot of irregularity or completely missing periods, schedule a checkup with your OB GYN. Menopause isn’t always the cause of missed periods. It could be a sign of another medical condition or pregnancy.
According to the North American Menopause Society, hot flashes are one of the most common menopause symptoms. As many as 75% of women have hot flashes. And, they can last anywhere from 6 months to 10 years.
If hot flashes are getting in the way of your everyday life, it’s time to talk to your OB GYN. While hormone replacement therapy often helps relieve hot flashes, it isn’t your only choice. Your OB GYN can talk with you about all of your options.
Changes in your hormones coupled with other symptoms like hot flashes can often interrupt your normal sleep. The National Sleep Foundation estimates 61% of post-menopausal women have insomnia symptoms.
When you aren’t well-rested, it affects many aspects of your life. So, if you find yourself consistently struggling to get enough sleep, contact your doctor. This is especially true if your partner notices excessive snoring or pauses in breathing while you sleep. These could be a sign of a serious sleep problem.
Moods and mental well-being
Changes in hormones often bring changes in your mood. Just as many women experience premenstrual mood changes each month or during pregnancy, you may find mood swings are more common during menopause.
While slight changes in mood are normal, don’t shrug off serious signs of depression as no big deal. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says you have an increased risk of developing depression during menopause. So, talk to a professional and get screened.
When it comes to pelvic health, lower estrogen levels can lead to both urinary and vaginal changes. The Office on Women’s Health says you may experience vaginal dryness—leading to painful sex or an increased risk of STDs. You’re also more likely to experience urine leaks, especially when you cough or laugh.
Fortunately, these symptoms are treatable. If they’re affecting you, call your OB GYN. He or she can give you options, including ways to combat vaginal dryness or strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Because your transition to menopause is as unique as you are, it’s not unusual to notice other changes in your body. Some women report memory changes or thinning hair. You may notice your skin feels drier, or your metabolism seems slower.
The good news is, no matter what symptoms you’re experiencing, there’s plenty of help available to you. Talk with your OB GYN about ways you can stay healthy. Connect with friends who are going through a similar transition. With the right support, you’ll feel empowered to manage your symptoms and embrace this important transition in your life.