Women may experience a variety of signs or symptoms of menopause. Here are the most common changes women might notice at this stage in life:
- Change in your period. This might be what you notice first. Your periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. You might bleed more or less than usual. Talk to your doctor if you have heavy bleeding, spotting, long periods, or your periods resume after a year with no bleeding.
- Hot flashes. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper part or all of your body. Many women have hot flashes, which is attributed to loss of estrogen, and can last a few years after menopause. Most hot flashes last between 30 seconds to 10 minutes. They can happen several times an hour, a few times a day, or just once or twice a week.
- Vaginal health and bladder control. Your vagina may get drier., This could make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Or, you could have other health problems, such as vaginal or bladder infections. Some women also find it hard to hold their urine long enough to get to the bathroom. This loss of bladder control is called incontinence. You may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing.
- Sleep. Around midlife, some women start having trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Maybe you can’t fall asleep easily, or you wake too early. Night sweats might wake you up. You might have trouble falling back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
- Sex. You may find that your feelings about sex are changing. You could be less interested. Or, you could feel freer and sexier after menopause. After 1 full year without a period, you can no longer become pregnant. But remember, you could still be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). such as gonorrhea or even HIV/AIDS, so always use a condom.
- Mood changes. You might feel moodier or more irritable around the time of menopause. Scientists don’t know why this happens. It’s possible that stress, family changes such a s growing children or aging parents, a history of depression, or feeling tired could be causing these mood changes.
- Your body seems different. Your waist could get larger. You could lose muscle and gain fat. Your skin could get thinner. You might have memory problems, and your joints and muscles could feel stiff and achy. Are these changes a result of having less estrogen or just related to growing older? Experts don’t know the answer.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of menopause on the NIA website.