The average age women experience menopause is around 51 years of age. At this point, the ovaries begin to make less estrogen. In fact, one of the most common signals of approaching menopause is a chance in your menstrual cycle. A lighter or heavier flow than normal may appear and even skipping one or more periods can occur. At some point in this process, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and the menstrual period concludes.
Menopause brings about a different experience for each woman; some are heavily affected, while others notice little to no change. The most common symptom of menopause experienced are hot flushes, or “hot flashes”. Nearly 75% of women in menopause will experience these sudden feelings of heat. During one of these occurrences, the skin may redden and a sweat may break out, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. While hot flushes are uncomfortable and a bit of a nuisance, they are not harmful.
Other issues which may occur during menopause include trouble sleeping and emotional changes. A lack of sleep may be caused by occasional hot flushes or simply because there is a lack of REM sleep which allows the body to feel rested. Emotional changes can take place because of this additional stress and a change in hormonal levels can increase feelings of nervousness, irritability and overall tiredness. Some women may also develop less of a sex drive around and after menopause as hormone levels decrease.
Along with a lowered sex drive, a lack of estrogen can cause the vagina to dry and as the lining becomes thinner. This can cause increased pain during intercourse and higher chances of infection. To combat many of these issues, maintaining routine healthcare is essential. You should continue to visit your doctor once a year and have regular exams and tests performed.
As you go through these changes during menopause, remember, these are all natural events. Although physical changes occur during this process, there is nothing that should prevent you from continuing to enjoy your life. Be sure to speak to your physician about maintaining good nutrition, getting enough essential vitamins and calcium, as well as sticking with an appropriate exercise plan.