Menopause is when a woman is no longer producing hormones from her ovaries. The main hormones produced from the ovaries are estrogen and progesterone. A woman’s hormones will decline and cease with age or if she has her ovaries removed, which is called an oophorectomy.
When a woman undergoes a oophorectomy, she will usually also have a hysterectomy which is removal of the uterus. Having an oophorectomy/hysterectomy can happen at any age. It is usually done for uterine or ovarian cancer, fibroids, endometriosis, abnormal uterine bleeding.
Menopause is defined as an cessation from having a period for 12 months. But there are many unwanted symptoms of menopause that can have a negative impact on a woman’s quality of life.
Symptoms of menopause: Here are common symptoms, but these do not encompass all the symptoms a woman can have going through menopause.
- Hot flashes: intense heat that comes out of nowhere. The heat is very intense and feels like it starts in the center of the body and will go up to the neck and head. There can be sweating on the chest and face during a hot flash. Hot flashes do not last long, just a few seconds to less than a minute. Some complain that they feel agitated or slight anxiety right before a hot flash. Hot flashes can happen multiple times a day.
- Night sweats: often women will complain of waking in the middle of the night with night sweats so bad they need to change their pjs. Commonly, after a night sweat, a woman will complain of getting very chilly. So sleep is disrupted with the tossing the covers on and off all night.
- Insomnia: even with waking up all night with night sweats, women still have trouble sleeping during menopause. Women will comment on how they fall asleep fine but wake up two to four hours later wide awake and cannot go back to sleep.
- Hot flushes: women will complain that they will get heated during the day that can last for hours. These are not hot flashes, instead feeling very warm and cannot cool down.
- Urinary incontinence: the urethra less to become lax when estrogen drops making it hard to hold urine.
- Low Libido: estrogen is very important for sex drive and also allowing blood flow to female vaginal area. When estrogen drops the libido does along with it.
- Vaginal dryness: estrogen keep the vaginal cells hydrate and strong. Declining estrogen in menopause can cause vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse.
- Weight gain: the drop in estrogen and progesterone can also drop a woman’s metabolism making it much easier to gain weight and often difficult to lose it.
- Forgetful: short term memory flies out the window.
- Worry: during perimenopause when the hormones are starting to become imbalanced women will notice they start to worry a lot. As perimenopause turns into menopause, the worry gets worse.
- Hair and skin changes: estrogen is very important to keep the resiliency and hydrate of the cell. When estrogen drops in menopause the skin can thin as well as the hair follicle diminishes in diameter resulting in thinning hair and skin.
- Moody: a common menopausal symptom is moodiness. Women can vacillate from weepy to irritable and usually in a blink of a second.