Menopause is the result of hormonal changes in a woman as she ends her regular menstruation cycles and fertility. The months and sometimes years leading up to menopause are called pre-menopause, then when the ovaries begin shutting down is peri-menopause. A woman has officially reached menopause when she hasn't had a period for an entire year. Symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman. Each woman may have all the symptoms or none, but most women experience something in between. Menopause is normal and not a disease or sickness.
Many women experience night sweats, frequent hot flashes or cold, clammy feelings. This often results in sleep disturbance and increased irritability.
Mental and Emotional
Exhaustion, mental lapses, anxiety, overwhelming dread and depression are common. For middle-aged women who have difficulty concentrating, memory lapses or mental confusion, menopause may be the cause. Mood swings, irritability and severe depression can take over menopausal women's lives. Be concerned and consult a doctor if these mood swings become so severe they interfere with everyday life.
Sex and Fertility
As the ovaries discontinue production of eggs, a menopausal woman often experiences decreased fertility, irregular periods and vaginal dryness. The loss of sexual desire is common.
Body, Skin, Hair and Nails
During menopause, many women experience an increase in abdominal fat, thicker thighs and changes in breast size. As the ovaries change, so do many body parts, making the woman feel out of sync with her body. Itchy skin may be the result of hormonal changes. In some cases, a menopausal woman will experience thinning hair, brittle nails and an increased amount of facial hair. Occasionally, menopausal women experience a change in body odor.
If a woman suddenly experiences an irregular heartbeat, she needs to have it checked out with her doctor. This may be a normal symptom of menopause, but it could be something else. Osteoporosis is more common after a woman hits menopause. Tingling in the extremities, ringing in the ears, bleeding gums, burning or a bad taste in the mouth are fairly common. Some women experience increased digestive issues, including flatulence and nausea. Increased allergies may ensue.
Aches and Pains
Many menopausal women experience more aches and pains in the joints, muscles and tendons. Muscles may become tense, causing headaches to erupt. Breasts may become tender and uncomfortable.