Like all major turning points in woman’s lives, reaching menopause can be challenging and even a little frightening. Like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, menopause carries with it a whole host of natural, but nonetheless challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, physical changes. Moreover, it also carries with it a plethora of normal emotional and spiritual reactions, ranging from denial, confusion and even grief. After all, menopause marks a completely new phase in a woman’s life. It heralds the end of our childbearing bearing years and ushers in a different phase of deep female maturity. And, since unfortunately we still live in a culture that equates femininity with sexual fertility, it’s no wonder that many women regard menopause as a negative thing. Sadly some regard it as a nullification of their worth as women, something that couldn’t be further from the truth. Menopause also reminds us we are getting older and our are bodies are naturally aging. That fact in itself can be difficult to accept.
What is menopause exactly?
Menopause is an intermediary stage that takes place when a woman’s reproductive organs fail to produce eggs, causing her menstrual cycle to stop. Typically menopause starts after or around the age of 50, however there are exceptions with some women commencing early menopause symptoms.
Most people have heard of menopause in women. The stage of life goes along with natural aging or it can be brought on through surgical means. While this phase of life is considered common and perfectly natural, the male menopause version isn’t quite as widely recognized. Still, for about 40 percent of men in their 40s to 60s, male menopause symptoms are very real and quite troubling. Male menopause, also known as andropause, is characterized by the gradual decline in the production of testosterone. Many other conditions can cause what might be classified as male menopause symptoms. It is generally considered wise to seek medical advice if male menopause symptoms arise rather than trying to diagnose the condition by oneself.
Early Menopause Symptoms
If you believe you may be suffering from early menopause symptoms you need to understand what to look for. Usually around the age of 45 women will start to go through some of the things associated with pre-menopause. This typically only happens to a small percentage of women, but it could very well be you.
Some women will completely misinterpret these signs simply because of their age or because they are in denial of what they are really going through. If you are younger than 40 and you begin to experience any of the symptoms below make sure you know what your body is going through before you start jumping to conclusions.
Common Early Menopause Symptoms
More often than not a woman will experience irregular bleeding as one of the early menopause symptoms. This is the most common sign that your body is beginning to go through the change of menopause. lt is also a very unpredictable symptom and it is necessary to proceed with caution if you begin to bleed irregularly. Some women will only experience occasional bleeding, while others will experience excessive bleeding. lf your menstrual cycles become irregular it may be an early menopause symptoms, but it could be something else as well. To find out for sure consult your doctor about all your symptoms.
Another very common early menopause symptom is the dreaded hot flashes. This is when the entire body becomes warm for really no reason and you may begin to perspire. These can also come in the form of night sweats and this may be how they start. Nearly 40% of women will experience some form of hot flashes before menopause starts and they can last up to about 5 years on average.
Many women have also experienced weight gain as one of the early menopause symptoms. Typically this is due to your body no longer needing as much energy to support the reproductive system. Since you don’t know exactly when this might start you may gain a few pounds as a sign you are about to start going through menopa use.
Nearly all women that go through a hysterectomy will experience early menopause symptoms. This can trigger the body to start going through menopause at a much younger age and your doctor should warn you of what is going to happen before you have this operation.
The final symptom often associated with early menopause is the mood swings. This is another symptoms that does not mean you are about to start me,iopause, but it could. Mood swings can be caused by many different things and typically come with a lack of sleep or an irregular sleep schedule. This can be caused by night sweats as well.
Vaginal Bleeding After Menopause
Vaginal bleeding can have different possible causes. one of the most common ones involves atrophic vaginitis which is the effect of lowered estrogen levels. This in turn can result in painful intercourse among postmenopausal women due to the inflammation of the vaginal lining, causing lack of sufficient natural lubrication.
Women who go through hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could also experience vaginal bleeding after menopause. One of the objectives of HRT is to stimulate the uterine lighting using supplementalsynthetic hormones. This means that they will bleed in pretty much the same way as healthy premenopausal women. However, a lot depends on the hormone dosages administered, and the amount and frequency of virginal bleeding may vary from one menopausal woman to the next. Consulting with your doctor about this matter is highly encouraged.
Vaginal bleeding after menopause can be the result of non-medical related causes, as well. Anxiety, over-excitement, and too much stress are proven major culprits for postmenopausal bleeding in some cases. There have also been instances of sudden weight loss leading to bleeding or spotting. Dramatic and speeded-up weight loss encourages estrogen from fatty tissues to be released into the bloodstream. It is why some postmenopausal women on a crash diet experience bleeding in this manner.
The Average Age of Menopause is Getting Younger
Traditionally, the average age of menopause was 60. Women would enter perimenopause in their 50s and finally menopause (defined as having had 12 consecutive months without menstruation) at around the age of 60, give/or take a few years.
In recent years, however, the average age of menopause has been getting younger and younger. Now it is quite normal for women to enter perimenopause in their 40s and menopause in their 50s. While this did cause alarm in the beginning, what has become more alarming is that women as early as 35 can enter perimenopause, which according to the trend can have women menopausing earlier. Also, it seems that the younger perimenopause hits, the longer it lasts, which is terrible for women.
Doctors have been noticing these trends, and have been wondering why the average age of menopause seems to become younger through the generations. So why is the average age of menopause shifting? Atpresent, doctors presume it has to do with the increasingly stressful lifestyle women lead, as well as the sudden influx of unhealthy foods available to women. Unhealthy habits such as alcohol and excessive caffeine may also be triggering women’s bodies to believe that they are “older” than they really are. This is worrisome because the shift in ages poses certain health implications for women, and these implications can be serious.
First, earlier onset of perimenopause means earlier hormonal imbalances in a woman’s body. This can complicate a woman’s reproductive system; and can be one of the reasons why an increasing number of women are getting hysterectomies. It also increases the chances of having unexpected pregnancies or pregnancies in which the children have higher chances of having pre-natal problems.
Second, the imbalance caused by perimenopause hormones can be very disrupting in a woman’s life, especially when they are still in their 30s, and are expected to be very active at work and in the home. Some women connect the stress of their lives and the symptoms of perimenopause to the increasing numbers of women who are diagnosed with psychological problems like depression or bi-polar disorder. While it is very possible that going through some of the hormonal changes of perimenopause and having it be so disrupting can exacerbate psychological symptoms, there are no clear connections between the two, though the correlation is something worth taking note of.
The problems mentioned above are just two of the more serious health problems that can arise from the average age of menopause becoming younger. If the current lifestyle trend is what is causing this alarming shift in the average age of menopause, then women are asked to lead healthier lives starting in their younger years so as to lengthen their reproductive life, as well as to shorten the length of perimenopause.
There are other health problems that can pose complications, and women who perimenopause early should take the time to read about what they are up against so that they may better prepare themselves for the challenges ahead. Have it, Live it, Love it’ which can really help you figure out how to cope with the situation.