Menopause is a natural biological process for women between the ages of 45 to 55 years old who have stopped menstruating for 12 months consecutively. However, early menopause (which occurs before the age of 45) can occur due to a number of reasons such as smoking, from surgeries that remove the uterus or ovaries, undergoing chemotherapy, having an autoimmune disease, and so on. Early menopause affects about 5% of women.
The signs of early menopause are not always clear, so in order to help you identify if it is something you may experiencing, here are six symptoms of early menopause:
One of the notable signs of early menopause is changes to your usual menstrual cycle. If you have always had a regular period, this may become suddenly irregular. This is because of erratic hormone changes that occur even before the onset of early menopause.
Hot flashes and sweats are two of the most well-known symptoms of early menopause. These happen because of changing hormone levels, particularly that of estrogen and progesterone, which then affects other hormones that are involved in the body’s temperature regulation system.
One of the hormones that suddenly fluctuates during early menopause is estrogen. This hormone is related to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates moods. Therefore, it’s no surprise that mood changes are one of the symptoms of early menopause.
Sleep disturbances due to early menopause are usually secondary to other symptoms. This can happen because of hot flashes that cause discomfort while sleeping, which can also be tied to mood changes (depression and anxiety) affecting a person’s quality of sleep.
During early menopause, vaginal dryness happens because reduced estrogen levels cause physical changes in the vagina. This correlates to less lubrication and the tissues becoming less flexible in the area.
Estrogen helps to reduce inflammation with the help of estrogen receptors all over the body (including the joints). This means that many women report aches and pains as one of the symptoms of early menopause due to the drop in the anti-inflammatory action of estrogen.
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