Claire Forster - Naturopath

 

Common Menopause Symptoms

It's not easy to talk about the common symptoms associated with menopause without making it seem like an illness!  Therefore this is an opportune time to remind ourselves that naturally occurring menopause (between the ages of 45 and 55) is just that - a normal and natural occurence.

Having said that, just because it's normal and natural, doesn't mean it should be a time of unnecessary suffering.  It's OK to seek support to help manage symptoms.  Sometimes even small improvements - less intense hot flushes, better quality sleep or feeling more upbeat can have a significant impact on a woman's overall sense of wellbeing and quality of life.

There are a number of different symptoms that can be experienced throughout the years leading up to and after menopause.  However the exact symptoms and the severity of those symptoms are different for everyone.  Some women barely notice the hormonal changes that are taking place, while at the other end of the scale, the severity of symptoms can be quite debilitating.

Vasomotor symptoms (e.g. hot flushes and night sweats) and sleep disturbances are the most commonly experienced menopausal symptoms.  Although they do occur during peri-menopause, more women are affected post-menopause.  Mood-related changes are the third most common symptom and these tend to affect women equally throughout both menopausal phases.

Other symptoms associated with menopause may include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Memory problems
  • Dry skin and/or a 'crawling' sensation on or under the skin (formication)
  • Genitourinary related symptoms (vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections, increased urinary frequency - including during the night)
  • Lowered libido
  • Weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

Women will often experience more than one of the symptoms associated with menopause and the presentation and/or severity of symptoms can change throughout the different phases of menopause.  For example, hot flushes may begin during peri-menopause, but become more frequent or intense as menopause approaches.  Whereas genitourinary related symptoms tend to affect women more during the post-menopause years.

  

Key Points

  • Naturally occurring menopause (between the ages of 45 and 55) is a normal and natural occurrence.
  • Seeking help to manage menopause-related symptoms can have a significant impact on quality of life.
  • Hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and mood-related changes are the most common symptoms experienced throughout the menopausal years.
  • Women will often experience more than one symptom associated with menopause.
  • Symptoms and the severity of those symptoms can change throughout the different phases of menopause.

 

References:
Sarris, J., & Wardle, J.  (2010).  Clinical naturopathy: An evidence-based guide to practice.  Sydney, Australia: Elsevier.
Trickey, R.  (2011).  Women, hormones & the menstrual cycle.  Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne Trickey Enterprises (Victoria) Pty Limited.

 This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional  medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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