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Each woman experiences menopause differently. Some women have many symptoms and others have a few. Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause this variety of symptoms.

Symptoms include:

Irregular Periods and Irregular Ovulation

  • Shorter or longer cycles
  • Heavier or lighter bleeding
  • Spotting in between periods
  • Reduced fertility

Hot Flashes

  • Reported in up to 75% of American women
  • Sudden onset of a feeling of heat
  • Flushed face and neck
  • Last 30 seconds to five minutes
  • Occur at any time
  • Usually stop within a few years after menopause

Vaginal and Bladder Problems

  • Skin in genital area becomes drier and thinner
  • Sexual intercourse may become painful
  • Vaginal dryness and burning
  • Urinary tract problems may occur, such as infection and incontinence

Changes in Sexuality

  • Attitude toward sex may change
  • Diminished interest in sex
  • Arousal and comfort may be difficult
  • Freedom from concerns about pregnancy (but should use birth control until one year after last period)
  • Risk of sexually transmitted diseases remains

Fatigue and Sleep Problems

  • Normal sleep patterns may be interrupted
  • Early morning waking

Mood Changes

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress and change in family dynamics may contribute to mood problems

Visible Changes in Your Body

  • Thickening at the waist
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increase in fat
  • Loss of elasticity in the skin

Other Potential Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle stiffness or pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thinning of scalp hair; more prominent facial hair

References:

Menopause. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 15, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2013.

Menopause. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq047.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130416T1306377302. Accessed April 18, 2013.

Menopause symptom relief and treatments. US Department of Health and Human Services Women's Health website. Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/menopause/symptom-relief-treatment/index.html. Updated September 29, 2010. Accessed April 18, 2013.



Last reviewed March 2014 by Kim Carmichael, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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