Onset Of Menopause Symptoms

Onset of menopause symptoms, they think of hot flashes and osteoporosis, but there are many lesser known, but just as disruptive, physical changes.

When most people think of menopause, they think of hot flashes and osteoporosis, but there are many lesser known, but just as disruptive, physical changes. What are they and why aren't more people aware of them? These symptoms don't get as much attention because many people consider them a normal side effect of aging rather than a indication of menopause. While the National Institutes of Health has been conducting long-term research on this subject, it has only been since the early 1990's that there has been an effort to link symptoms to the changes in hormone levels during menopause.

Many women experience an increase in muscle aches and pains during onset of menopause. This is because many of the muscles in the body contain estrogen receptors. This is also responsible for weakening and loss of muscle tone, leg and foot cramps, an increase in tendonitis and also back and shoulder pain as a result of the weakening of the back muscles. Women may also experience minor incontinence when sneezing or laughing because of the loss of muscle tone. But there is hope. These muscles can be strengthened through a regular exercise routine. Yoga has also been used successful to keep the body supple. Be sure you check with your physician before your begin any new exercise program.

Another unpleasant symptom is a dry mouth. This may or may not be accompanied by a bitter taste in the mouth as well as problems with chronic bad breath. This is due to the drying out of mucus membranes. These are also responsible for a feeling of dryness in both the nasal passages and the vagina that some women experience. The mucus membranes also affect the gastrointestinal tract. When these secretions diminish, it may result in flatulence, constipation or diarrhea and indigestion. Since these changes are caused by the decrease in estrogen, symptoms may be lessened or relieved altogether with estrogen replacement therapy. Keep your body hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains to help maintain regularity.

Because women have both male hormones and female hormones, the female hormones offset most of the effects of the male hormones. Estrogen, the female hormone, decreases during menopause thus causing the male hormone testosterone to cause women some unpleasant effects. Most commonly testosterone causes increased facial hair growth and thinning hair. While this can be annoying, women can rest assured that actually baldness in females is very rare. To keep the hair on your head from falling out, it is important to make sure that it is well moisturized and not over treated. Minoxidil is available but studies have found that it is only benefits about one in eight women.

A variety of skin changes are also linked to estrogen levels. Collagen is less effective after menopause. As a result, skin is drier, itchier less elastic. Because the skin is thinner, it also bruises easier and is more susceptible to allergic reactions and irritations. The thinning of the skin and causes reduced blood flow to the surface and makes the skin appear more translucent and paler. Another of common symptom experienced by many women is a feeling of itchy crawling skin. This may be experienced as a tingling or a feeling of something crawling in or under the skin. The skin becoming hypersensitive because of the thinning of both the surface and the underlying muscles that support the skin causes this. Women who smoke are more apt to experience this symptom because smoking reduces the blood flow to the skin even more. Be sure to use sunscreen and moisturizer to help less the damage and dryness.

When estrogen is low, it also affects mood. Not in the way you would expect though. Women are actually less depressed than pre-menopausal women, but they do experience episodes of sadness. Some of this is intensified by the realization that this signifies the end of the childbearing years. Irritability and mood swings in menopausal women used to be thought of as a psychological reaction to getting older. Researchers have now found that the fluctuating hormone levels directly affect the part of the brain that controls moods and feelings. While the basis of these feelings can be traced to reactions about aging, no longer is it passed off as something that the woman must "snap out" of. Exercise and hormone replacement therapies have both been found to be extremely effective in lessening these mood alterations.

Women also experience an increase in the activity in the autonomic/sympathetic nervous system. It is this that causes hot flashes. These may also be accompanied by dizziness, nausea and a racing heartbeat. Also common are night sweats or cold flashes and a clammy feeling. These symptoms usually begin a few months before the onset of menopause and continue for a year or two afterwards. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding synthetic fabrics, which trap perspiration, may help you feel more comfortable. Estrogen replacement therapy can also help control the increased activity in the nervous system. If you choose to not to take hormone replacement therapy, watching your diet may allow you to control your hot flashes to some degree. Avoid foods such as caffeine, alcohol, sweets and spicy foods as they are common triggers for hot flashes.

If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, don't let them keep you from living your life to its fullest. Sit down and discuss the situation with your physician. They will be able to accurately identify what stage of menopause you are in and what your treatment options are. While hormone or estrogen replacement therapy is generally the first line of treatment, there are other options available to you and more are being developed all the time. Herbs such as dong quai, black cohosh and evening primrose oil have given some relief for their symptoms. If you use medicinal herbs make sure that your doctor is aware of your chosen treatment. While most herbs are safe, you still could run the risk of interactions and unexpected reactions. Some women find relief with acupuncture or biofeedback. Freely discuss your feelings and symptoms and together you and your doctor will decide the best treatment for you.

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