Menopause symptoms and physical changes

Menopause generally occurs in women between the ages of around 45 and 55. During this period, the ovaries are having insufficient oocytes, leading to decreasing levels of periodic estrogen and progesterone to be secreted by the pituitary gland. The decrease in turn affects the regular thickening, exfoliation and bleeding of the endometrium. As a result, the menstrual cycle becomes irregular, with early or late arrival, and increased or reduced blood loss. In general, these conditions last for a period of time until the final menstrual period. Menopause can only be affirmed when a woman stops having menstruation (period) for a year or above.

You may start to notice some menopause symptoms months or even years before the onset of menopause, which are called perimenopause symptoms. Some common symptoms include:

1. Flushing

Some women may suddenly experience brief blushes and hot flushes in their upper body, face, and even the entire body, which usually last for one to several minutes. In addition, discomfort such as easy sweating and rapid heartbeat may occur.


2. Vaginal dryness

Due to reduced secretion of estrogens, vaginal tissue is losing its elasticity. Meanwhile, the vagina is prone to itchiness, inflammation, and in the worst case, causes decline in bladder function and urinary incontinence.

3. Osteoporosis

As the level of estrogens in women’s body falls when the period comes to an end, bone calcium depletes rapidly to cause loose bone tissue and a fragile state. If these conditions arise, it is recommended to seek early treatments to lower the risk of fracture.


4. Cardiovascular changes 

The gradual reduction in the level of estrogen in the blood makes it more likely for cholesterol to stay in the blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.


5. Mood swings

The troubles caused by these obvious physiological changes are likely to wreck women's self-confidence. Many women will become gloomy, depressed, and even anxious, irritable and agitated. Some will even be forgetful and suffer from headaches, dizziness, insomnia and fatigue, etc. These problems make them hard to stay focused and greatly affect their daily lives.


How to confirm the onset of menopause?

Menopause symptoms are often not exclusive to menopause, but for many women-specific diseases induce the same symptoms, such as ovarian failure or hyperthyroidism. If you want to put your mind at ease and go through menopause with greater comforts and fewer worries, it is recommended that you receive pre-menopausal examinations, which generally include:
1. Blood lipid test
It measures the total cholesterol, ratio of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density cholesterol, as well as triglyceride levels.
2. Hormone testing   
Testing includes measuring follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen levels.
The level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps find out whether a woman is approaching, transitioning or experiencing menopause. As for the level of estrogen in the ovaries, it can help assess whether the menstrual cycle is normal.

3. Thyroid function    
As the metabolism of thyroid gland will slow down with age, measuring the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone and free thyroxine will help identify the arrival of menopause stage.
4. Bone health
As the estrogen level drops, bones become fragile. By evaluating bone health, including measuring calcium, phosphate, vitamin D levels and bone density, we can determine if there is a future risk of osteoporosis.

How to make menopause easier?

Menopause is a necessary stage for every woman. To keep living a relaxing and enjoyable life, you can make some small changes in the following habits:

  1. Prefer loose and cotton clothes and avoid spicy food, alcohol, tea and coffee.
  2. Maintain a balanced diet and consume especially high calcium foods such as milk, beans and fish to supplement calcium.
  3. Avoid alcohol and cigarette, since the former hinders the formation of new bone cells, while the latter impairs the liver function in blood hormonal regulation.
  4. Exercise at least three times a week, by doing aerobic exercise such as walking and running, to strengthen the bones.
  5. Use lubricant during sex to reduce virginal discomfort.
  6. In terms of mental health, always stay positive, chat more with friends and share experiences.
  7. Participate in relevant education lectures to have a positive mind towards menopause and be prepared for it.

Menopause is, indeed, not as terrifying as what you may think. Stay chill, positive and healthy. Establish new goals and develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow and hence, lead a vibrant life.

Last Updated: May 2019
Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.