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Signs and symptoms of menopause

Here’s how your body changes leading up to menopause.

Menopause is described as the time 12 months after a woman’s last period.

The time leading up to menopause — called the menopausal transition — and the time after menopause can come with several changes to the body, which affect women differently.

Between the shifting hormone levels, hot flashes that some women experience and even physical and mood changes, menopause is not always easy. However, going through menopause is a normal part of a woman’s life.

Here’s what to expect during the menopausal transition.

When does menopause occur?

For starters, the menopausal transition begins between ages 45 and 55 for most women. While menopause doesn’t actually happen until one year after the last period, many people refer to the time leading up to menopause as menopause itself.

The menopausal transition lasts about 7 years but can take up to 14 years for some. It can even be triggered if a woman has a hysterectomy — the surgery that removes the ovaries.

What are the signs and symptoms of menopause?

Changing hormone levels

Hormone levels can fluctuate leading up to menopause, as the ovaries produce less and less estrogen and progesterone. The body needs to adapt to the changing hormone levels and may undergo various changes as it adapts.

Irregular periods

Before menstruation stops completely, women transitioning to menopause may experience irregular periods that are shorter or longer than usual and bleeding that is lighter or heavier than usual.

Your menstrual cycle might feel off, but that’s okay! It is all a normal part of the transition.

However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend that you talk to a doctor if you notice that your periods are really close together, if you have heavy bleeding, spotting, periods that last more than a week, or a period that returns after stopping for more than a year.

Hot flashes

Menopause can also come with several uncomfortable physical symptoms like hot flashes.

A hot flash is a sudden sensation of heat in the upper part of the body and the face. You might break out in sweats, feel your heart racing, and then feel chills afterwards. Read more about hot flashes here.

Hot flashes that occur at night are called night sweats, and these can interrupt sleep and make it difficult to get a good night’s rest.

Trouble sleeping

Even without hot flashes, some women going through the menopausal transition may have trouble sleeping. They might not be able to fall asleep easily or might wake up in the night and have a hard time falling asleep again.

Changed sex drive

Another possible sign of menopause is that your feelings towards sex may change. Sex drive might increase or decrease. Even though you will not be able to get pregnant after a year without a period, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are still possible, so don’t forget to practice safe sex.

Weaker bones

After menopause, a woman’s bones may also become less dense and more susceptible to fractures. The risk for osteoporosis — a condition that causes weak, brittle bones — goes up after menopause.

This makes it more important to get a healthy diet full of nutrients and vitamins — like calcium — that will keep your bones and body healthy.

Weight gain

Menopause may also impact your body weight. Some women may gain weight faster than usual and may find they are losing muscle mass. Keeping up with an exercise routine can help you maintain a healthy weight and manage the symptoms of menopause.

Irritability or moodiness

Some women may also feel more moody and irritable, which could be due to the changing hormone levels, the stress of the transition or other factors.

Overall, transitioning to menopause can lead to several body changes, and women will experience these changes differently. Some of these changes may not even be directly related to menopause and may simply be a result of aging.

Getting older also comes with additional responsibilities and transitions, such as taking care of aging parents or family changes like children leaving home.

All of these changes and transitions can make it even more stressful to manage menopause symptoms. If you’re going through these changes, remember that you are not alone.

In some cases medication can help women manage the transition to menopause and uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes.

You can also take care of yourself by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and by quitting smoking or tobacco use. You can always talk to your doctor about any symptoms that are interrupting your daily life.

At Alpha, we are here to support you through any phase of life. You can get treated for medical conditions online and get medication delivered straight to your door. We also offer sleep aids like melatonin that you can easily purchase from our online shop. Check out our website to learn more!

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Alpha Medical Team

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