Early menopause can be related to cigarette smoking, higher body fat, racial and ethnic factors, illness, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical removal of uterus and both ovaries.
Each woman’s experience is highly individual. The extent and severity of symptoms varies significantly. Some of them are irregular vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, night sweat, and breast tenderness. Urinary frequency, dry and thin skin, back and joint pain, weight gain in the abdominal area, depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, memory loss, sleep disturbance, change in collagen production. In some cases, women become prone to osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause. According to some studies, hot flashes occur in as many as 75% of perimenopausal women. Hot flash symptoms vary among women. Commonly, a hot flash is a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body, lasting from around 30 seconds to a few minutes. Flushed (reddened) skin, palpitations (feeling a strong heartbeat), and sweating often accompany hot flashes. Hot flashes often increase skin temperature and pulse, and they can cause insomnia, or sleeplessness. Hot flashes usually last 2 to 3 years, but many women can experience them for up to 5 years or longer. An even smaller percentage may have them for more than 15 years.
Since estrogen affects the vaginal lining, perimenopausal women may also have pain during intercourse and may note a change in vaginal discharge.
Menopause may cause changes in the shape of the breasts.
Rapid bone loss is common during the perimenopausal years. Most women reach their peak bone density when aged 25 to 30 years. During perimenopause, bone loss accelerates to about a 3% loss per year. Later, it drops off to about a 2% loss per year. No pain is usually associated with bone loss. However, bone loss can cause osteoporosis, a condition that increases the risk of bone fractures. These fractures can be intensely painful and can interfere with daily life. They also can increase the risk of death.
Cholesterol profiles also change significantly at the time of menopause. Total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels increase. Increased LDL cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk increases after menopause, though it is unclear exactly how much is due to aging and how much is caused by the hormonal changes that occur at the time of menopause.
A three-year study of healthy women nearing menopause found an average gain of five pounds during the three years. Hormonal changes and aging are both possible factors in this weight gain.
Here is an exhaustive list of symptoms for menopause:
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