How to Recognize the 22 Signs of Menopause
Don’t you love the caller ID feature on your cell phone that identifies the caller before you answer? That caller ID is how you know who’s a calling. Without it, you’d be caught off-guard. Well, what about menopause? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that same advantage for recognizing the 22 signs of menopause when they come knocking?
Let’s play a game! Which of the women in the following scenarios is experiencing the typical signs of menopause?
Scenario # 1:
You’re 44, and you start having periods that are heavier than they were before. At about that same time, you notice that you feel anxious much of the time. Your husband says your PMS isn’t just pre-menstrual anymore. He claims that your PMS personality dominates most of the time and that you’re extremely irritable. You’ve awakened a few times with night sweats and heart palpitations and thought you might be having a heart attack. You even went to the emergency room once, where all your labs, including your hormones, were completely normal.
Scenario # 2:
You’ve been a stay-at-home wife and mother for the last 25 years, and you’ve loved it. Nothing makes you happier than being with your family and taking care of them. But lately, you just want to tell them all to jump in a lake. You’re nearing the empty nest phase when all your children will have left home. And while that should make you happy, you find yourself feeling depressed. One minute you want them gone and the next you’re crying about the fact that they’re leaving. You just can’t figure yourself out. Everything seems wacky. You’re gaining weight in your belly, a place where you’ve never had a weight problem. And your skin is so dry! You’re losing gobs of hair and to top it all off you’re having outbreaks of acne at the age 53.
Scenario # 3:
You’re a woman who is always in control. You’ve got a high power job as an attorney, and you’re a partner in a large firm. You’ve never been married, but you’ve had plenty of romantic relationships over the years. You know your sex drive is higher than that of your 50-year old friends, but you attribute that to the fact that most of them are in dead-end marriages. However, for the very first time in your life, you think you’ve finally met the man you want to marry. You’re head over heels for the guy, but you’re having trouble having an orgasm. In fact, you aren’t all that interested in sex and feel pain when you have intercourse. Never before have you experienced such a problem. You haven’t been sleeping well at night, and you feel fatigued and forgetful throughout the day, day after day. Last week, you totally forgot all about a brief you were supposed to write. And although you have a reputation of always being well put-together, you forgot to carry out your regular hygiene routine for three days in a row and your boyfriend noticed whiskers on your chin. For the first time in your life, you feel discombobulated, and it’s starting to affect your performance at work as well as your performance in the bedroom.
Scenario # 4:
You suddenly have a sinking feeling. Could you be pregnant at 51? You’ve religiously used both your diaphragm plus condoms, but you’re having the same symptoms you had with your other pregnancies. Your period is four months late, you’ve gained weight, your breasts hurt, and you’re craving carbs and alcohol. You have to urinate frequently and suddenly, both day and night. You even wet your pants when you sneezed yesterday. And you’re having episodes when you feel like you’re burning up. You know you’ve been overly moody. The slightest things upset you, and you lash out at people. Both your family and friends are starting to pull away. Nervously, you make an appointment to see your Obstetrician/Gynecologist.
You were probably ALL right in your guesses; you want to know why? Most women have no idea what to expect when menopause presents itself. Very commonly, they (or their family members) think they’re going crazy.
Most women have heard the word, “Menopause.” Most have heard about hot flashes. And that’s pretty much the full extent of common knowledge about the 22 signs of menopause. Can you imagine starting your first period as a tween or teen and having no warning beforehand? Wouldn’t that be a mortifying memory that you carried with you for the rest of your life? (Maybe it is!)
Fortunately, most mothers prepare their daughters for their first period. And because of that preparation, most of us are spared the fear and confusion of the unknown. That little talk your mother had with you was like caller ID for your first period. You knew beforehand that your period would come calling.
So why is it different for menopause?
Why aren’t we prepared? Why don’t women know what to expect?
Wouldn’t it be so much better if all women knew exactly what to look for regarding the arrival of the transition into menopause? As it stands now, most women have no idea what’s happening to them when these changes begin to occur.
All women need to know all the 22 signs of menopause, that way, you’ll be able to identify menopause as soon as she comes a knocking; and you can all prepare those around you to have a much smoother transition, both personally and socially.
Why do all the above scenarios represent the different ways a woman can go through menopause?
Because as different as the four situations are, they all account for the onset of some of 22 signs of menopause. No two women are alike, and neither are their menopausal experiences.
THE 22 SIGNS OF MENOPAUSE
Few people know that there are 22 signs of menopause—yes, 22. It’s not just about hot flashes! Here are the typical signs and symptoms that occur when menopause comes a knocking:
1. Irregular, heavier, or infrequent periods
2. Hot flashes with heart palpitations and anxiety
3. Night sweats
7. Mood swings
10. Cravings for sweets, carbohydrates, alcohol
11. Breast pain
12. Joint stiffness or joint pain
13. Dry skin that leads to wrinkling, along with dry mouth and brittle nails
14. Hair loss on your scalp
15. Hair growth in undesirable locations
16. Vaginal dryness
17. Urinary tract infections
18. Urinary incontinence
19. Weight gain
20. Increased or decreased sex drive
The message is that menopause is a normal transition in our lives with predictable signs and symptoms. It makes absolutely no sense for any woman to endure fear or confusion when those signs and symptoms begin to appear. The biggest fear of all is the unknown, and preparation is the cure.
Educating yourself about the 22 signs of menopause in advance is your caller ID for menopause. That’s how you’ll know when menopause comes knocking.
This article, written by Dr. Barbara Taylor, was first published on http://justvibehouston.com/, on November 21st 2016.