Menopause is a term used to describe the permanent cessation of the primary functions of the human ovaries: the ripening and release of ova and the release of hormones that cause both the creation of the uterine lining and the subsequent shedding of the uterine lining. Menopause typically (but not always) occurs in women in midlife, during their late 40s or early 50s, and signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman's life.
The transition from reproductive to non-reproductive is the result of a reduction in female hormonal production by the ovaries. This transition is normally not sudden or abrupt, tends to occur over a period of years, and is a natural consequence of aging.
One of the first changes that you may notice in your life is the change of your menstrual cycle. Your periods would become irregular and very unpredictable. So, you will have to be prepared for your period at all times. Further, your period may be longer one month and shorter the next time. So, don’t worry, lighter or heavier periods are normal.
Hot/Cold Flashes and Night Sweats
You may experience sudden warmth or coldness flooding your body and this may lead to a lot of undesirable sweating. The sweating is more prominent in the upper half of your body. In fact, you may just wake up in the middle of the night feeling very hot in spite of the air conditioning. But relax, this are most likely caused by the hormonal and biochemical changes going on in your body on the onset of menopause.
The lowering of the estrogen (female hormone) levels in your body lead to the thinning of the tissues lining your vagina. Your vagina also becomes very dry and less elastic. Vaginal dryness can in turn lead to itching, irritation and/or pain during sexual intercourse. During menopause, women also become more susceptible to vaginal infections.
Female menopause is also characterized by the loss of some volition over our muscles. This is especially irritating when we consider the muscles lining the urinary tract. Many women find themselves in embarrassing situations because they could not control their urge to urinate. This leads to leaking. Furthermore, women also become more prone to infections of the urinary tract on the onset of menopause.
Emotional Ups and Downs
Almost all women going through menopause suffer from frequent bouts of depression and lose a lot of their sense of self. They also suffer from frequent mood swings that can lead to increased relationship problems.
Besides the above female menopause symptoms, some women also complain of increased forgetfulness. They also say that they experience heavy weight gain during their menopause and found it increasingly difficult to lose these extra pounds. Moreover, the risk of osteoporosis and heart diseases also increase during menopause.