Menopause is a natural part of aging for women, but there is no predictable pattern or timeline for the symptoms, doctors say. Many women over 50, and as they approach this milestone, start experiencing the various symptoms on an irregular basis. Menopause is as definite as death, but what symptoms are not the typical indicators of this looming menopause?
While hot flashes, irritability, and weight gain are generally well known, symptoms like anxiety, hair loss, and incontinence can catch a woman by surprise and cause concern, even though they’re normal.Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas, author of The Menopause Myth: What Your Mother, Doctor, And Friends Haven’t Told You About Life After 35.
Many myths exist about what to expect when going through menopause. It’s important to know your body well enough to know what’s happening and get reassurance that what’s going on is normal. Here ate five normal menopausal symptoms women can watch for:
Depression and anxiety shouldn’t be ignored; they can appear as your body changes and need to be treated. If you have a history of anxiety and/or depression, you are likely to experience it again in perimenopause – the menopause transition. Decreasing progesterone and overactive adrenals may be partially responsible for the anxiety you’re feeling, and progesterone has been implicated in depression, too. So, don’t think depression and anxiety are just ‘all in your head.’
Hair loss and hair growth
Hormone changes can cause hair growth where you least want it. At the same time, these hormone changes – specifically, decreasing estrogen and the changing ratio of estrogen to testosterone – are responsible for thinning hair on the scalp, especially on the crown and near the forehead.
Behavior can tip off a woman to menopausal symptoms. If you’re not feeling like yourself and your partner has complained about you treating them differently. Estrogen is actually a key driver of women’s nurturing behavior and the desire to take care of others. Declining estrogen in perimenopause, women can find themselves thinking, feeling and behaving in a way that’s unfamiliar. This biological change can have huge consequences on family dynamics.
The appearance of the vagina
Age and hormones affect the appearance of the vagina. The pubic hair can go gray, thin, or disappear altogether; the skin can change color, and the labia minora can lengthen or sag. All of these changes are completely normal
Decreasing estrogen is responsible for the thinning of the vaginal walls and that means the urethra doesn’t have the support it used to in order to hold urine in. Urine leakage is very common; around 50% of women will experience some form of incontinence in their lifetime.
Every woman is different, but there’s no need to worry and suffer in silence. Talk with your gynecologist to learn more about the symptoms, discuss what you’re experiencing, and ways to treat them.
Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas is the author of The Menopause Myth: What Your Mother, Doctor, And Friends Haven’t Told You About Life After 35, is the founder and visionary of Tula Wellness Center, a unique medical practice in Tucson, Ariz., focusing on women’s health and beauty. Dr. Sholes-Douglas has dedicated her career to helping women through the stages of life but currently focuses on treating women experiencing perimenopause and menopause. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
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