It is not a pleasant experience, but at the same time is not an illness, just a stage every woman goes through at some point in their lives when their reproductive organs cease to work in the same way as they pass their child bearing years with differing severity of symptoms.
Traditionally women have had children are in their 20s though more put this off particularly in the Western world until their 30s and 40s often due to careers and lifestyle choices.
Women are living healthier, more active lives than ever before and often use their 20s and early 30s to develop their careers, and do the other things like travel and other leisure activities and who can blame them!
On occasions women who have to undergo a hysterectomy for medical reasons such as cancer may undergo immediate surgical menopause regardless of age.
Signs normally include hot flushing, mood swings and anxiety. These are the most common symptoms experienced by a woman prior to and during the early stages of menopause. Also night sweats which can amount to a loss of sleep and are often the most bothersome. Other side effects often include weight gain where fat tissue begins to move away to other parts of the body from the hips and thigh areas.
One of the main drivers for associated symptoms is the sharp decrease of the estrogen hormone being produced thus the corresponding decrease in blood supply to the vagina, whereas in contrast a man’s testosterone levels decline gradually throughout their lifetime, starting in their twenties.
The severity of side effects on the woman’s body varies from person to person, however the common trio of hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness are the areas that are normally focused on when seeking relief. These are the things that therefore lead to hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, dry skin and hair, weight gain, decreased concentration and memory, low libido, insomnia and joint pain.
Another side effect of the menopause on the body is the reduction of bone density in women.
Most women going through the menopause will experience some weight gain – this is normal and to be expected and is caused by the shift in your hormones so one should not be too concerned about this aspect of it.
Women can therefore expect fat cells to form in different parts of the body, so weight gain around the abdomen, rather than the hips, thighs and rear are common – these are often referred to as an “apple” shape as the stomach area becomes rounder.
Ones hormonal changes have a direct impact on your metabolism and fat storage so it becomes difficult to control your weight during the menopause – no matter what you do, fluctuating estrogen hormonal levels will have the most influence on women’s weight levels.