How Do You Know If You Are in Menopause?
The first time you wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and flushed, you may start to wonder. “Is this it? Am I starting menopause?”
While hot flashes can be a symptom of menopause — the time when women in their mid-40s to mid-50s stop getting periods and are no longer fertile — it can take many months or even years to go through the process. In the meantime, you’ll start to see the signs of menopause that are caused by a drop in your hormone levels.
What Signs and Symptoms Indicate Menopause?
Menopause is defined as going for 12 months without a period, so you’ll almost certainly begin to have symptoms before you can be officially diagnosed as “menopausal.” This period when you’re starting to experience symptoms is called perimenopause, and it usually starts sometime in your late 40s or early 50s.
Irregular periods are a key sign that you are in perimenopause. This may mean you’ll have heavier or lighter periods, or your cycle may be shorter or longer than you have come to expect. Although for a large portion of women, irregular periods are a part of life throughout the childbearing years. While you may notice changes as you start the journey toward menopause, you may not realize that your irregular periods are any different from those you’ve experienced in the past.
There is no straight answer for how to know if you are in menopause, but if you are noticing changes in your cycle, you’ll also want to pay attention to the following signs of menopause:
- Hot flashes. Hormonal changes can lead to a few moments of feeling unbearably warm, flushed and uncomfortable. You may even experience a tingling feeling in your fingers or an increased heartbeat. You may be more likely to have hot flashes after drinking alcohol, eating spicy foods, being somewhere warm, or feeling stressed.
- Trouble sleeping. Insomnia is common as your hormones fluctuate.
- Reduced sex drive. Sometimes this is because you’re also experience vaginal dryness, and the resulting discomfort makes sex less appealing. In other cases, you may just not be in the mood as often.
- Weight gain. Hormonal changes can impact your muscle mass and your metabolism, so it becomes easier to pack on the pounds, especially around your waist – one of the more noticeable and frustrating signs of menopause.
- Memory problems and trouble concentrating. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you may remember struggling with your memory and focus. Due to hormonal changes, these issues can crop up again during perimenopause.
- Depression and anxiety. Your mental health can even be impacted during menopause and you may feel emotions more strongly, or not as much.
While most of the symptoms will dissipate over time, you might experience some of them for years as your body adjusts to the changes. Talk to your doctor if your are wondering how to know if you are in menopause or if you are concerned about your symptoms, especially if you find that depression is impacting your ability to function.
What Can You Do to Treat Menopause Symptoms?
Menopause treatment can help you to navigate the changing hormone levels that are causing dramatic changes to your body. Most of the symptoms of menopause result from a drop in estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that impact much of how your mind and body function. When you recognize these signs of menopause, you are able to proactively target the symptoms and take charge of this next stage of your life!
Once you know that you are in menopause, the good news is that bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can help you effectively regulate your body and reduce the issues caused by fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels.
What’s more, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can help you avoid some of the effects of aging that take a toll on your heart and bone mass. The right levels of replacement hormones can also help you avoid more prevalent cancers that can strike a woman of menopausal age and may even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or diabetes. Recent research has shown that BHRT can be safe and decrease the risk of these diseases associated with aging.
You may be a good candidate for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy if you’ve just begun experiencing uncomfortable signs of menopause like hot flashes and if you’re under age 60, but a wide range of women can benefit from help with hormones. At Apollo Medical Associates, our bioidentical hormone specialists can talk with you more about whether bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is right for you and your health.