The symptoms that menopausal women report vary broadly. All women experience irregular or shorter periods during the year or so before their periods stop altogether. The majority of women going through menopause also experience hot flashes. These typically begin with a feeling of mild to intense warmth in the upper part of the body, spreading to the face. Hot flashes may last for several minutes, and be accompanied by sweating and blushing. Their severity varies from mild to causing extreme discomfort. In some women, hot flashes may occur while asleep, causing them to wake up, resulting in insomnia or sleeplessness. Headaches and a racing heartbeat may also be experienced during menopause, sometimes coinciding with hot flashes and adding to overall discomfort.
Women going through menopause may experience a number of emotional symptoms. These include irritability, depression, anxiety, fatigue, lowered motivation and tension. While these emotional symptoms are a normal part of menopause, they may also be found in a variety of other conditions. It is best to consult a doctor if emotions are getting in the way of normal daily activities.
Many women have joint and muscle aches during menopause. Some of these women may be developing osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak. Hormonal changes during menopause, and a lack of sufficient physical activity, aggravate the development of osteoporosis. A doctor should properly evaluate any joint or muscle pain.
A distressing symptom some women experience during menopause is some loss of bladder control. Decreased estrogen levels cause this; estrogen helps keep the pelvic muscles that control the bladder strong.
Women going through menopause typically experience reduced sex drive. Some of this is attributable to vaginal dryness that develops during menopausal hormonal changes. Insomnia, depression, anxiety and other symptoms experienced during menopause may also contribute to reduced libido.
Menopausal women suffer a range of symptoms in varying severity: loss of periods, hot flashes, emotional disturbance, joint and muscle aches, bladder weakness and loss of libido. Fortunately, much is known about their origins, and there are many treatments available to improve them.