Detecting Early Signs of Menopause

Every woman knows that sooner or later she will go through menopause; her childbearing years will be over, and there is no further need for her ovaries to produce eggs or for her uterus to line itself with blood and tissue in preparation for hosting a fetus. However, even though women know that this change is inevitable, they sometimes fail to recognize the early signs of menopause.

Menopause is a process, not an event. Itís similar to pregnancy, another natural function of a womanís body. In the first weeks of pregnancy, a woman may detect no signs that she is carrying a child. Soon, the unmistakable signs of pregnancy herald the coming of a child.

Women are pregnant for nine months, give or take a couple of weeks. Thus, childbearing is a process that occurs over time. Menopause is also characterized by early signs that may, at first, go unnoticed; the signs of early menopause are often subtle and difficult to pinpoint. But once menopause progresses, these signs are just as obvious as those of pregnancy.

What Are the Early Signs of Menopause?

Keep in mind that like pregnancy, each woman experiences menopause differently and in different degrees of intensity. Some pregnant women have morning sickness, and some donít. The early signs of menopause occur in just the same manner.

Ask any menopausal woman about these signs; some will have them, some wonít. Migraine headaches are a good example; in women who have not suffered previously from migraines, this is considered as one of the early signs of menopause. For life-long migraine sufferers, itís viewed as just another one of those horrible headaches, having nothing to do with menopause.

There are some early signs of menopause that are experienced by the great majority of women, including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood changes (depression or irritability), heart palpitations, panic attacks, vaginal dryness, changes in appetite, weight gain, skin wrinkling and the development of soft facial hair. These signs are caused by ever-decreasing amounts of estrogen in a womanís body.

The most telling early sign of menopause is a change in a womanís menstrual cycle. As the menopause process begins, women may experience erratic periods; they have a normal period, and then begin bleeding again two weeks later. Or they may begin to skip periods from time to time. If pregnancy is ruled out, erratic periods are considered as an early sign of menopause.

Uncommon but fairly serious early signs of menopause are ďnulliparityĒ or difficulty with memory, urinary tract changes that cause urine leakage, and general cognitive decline. Women who donít recognize these changes as being early signs of menopause become very fearful that they may have bladder cancer and Alzheimerís disease. In fact, medications that are used to treat Alzheimerís can be given short-term to menopausal women who experience difficulty in their thought process. Women who experience any of these symptoms should see their physician to evaluate the cause, which most often is nothing more than the natural onset of menopause.

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