The Top 7 Menopausal Changes Women Should Expect

dreamstime_s_553511311. Hot flashes – One of the most well-known symptoms of menopause is the hot flash. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat and warmth felt in the chest, neck, and face. A hot flash can range in intensity — some women experience overwhelming rushes of heat, while others find that it is an uncomfortable passing moment. Many women find it helpful to avoid things that may trigger a hot flash, such as spicy foods, tobacco use, wine, and stress.

2. Painful intercourse – Changes in libido or gynecological changes like vaginal dryness or burning can occur during menopause. Itching and irritation are also common.

3. Pelvic prolapsePelvic prolapse occurs when the muscles are too weak to hold pelvic organs, such as the vagina, uterus, bladder, and small bowel, in their proper place. When pelvic muscles are weakened, these organs prolapse, or drop. This can sound alarming, but it is not uncommon in menopausal women, especially those who have given birth vaginally. Treatment options that range from lifestyle changes and exercise to surgery are available at UGCSF.

4. Urinary incontinence – Trouble controlling the bladder is another symptom of menopause, since pelvic floor muscles weaken as a woman ages. Incontinence can occur during activities like exercising or laughing, or a sudden urge to go can make it difficult to reach a bathroom in time. Some women experience both of these types of incontinence. It can be managed through lifestyle changes, physical therapy, medication, or other procedures, depending on the treatment plan determined by UGCSF.

5. Insomnia – Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep through the night is common during menopause. Night sweats or severe hot flashes can wake up women who would otherwise be sleeping normally and make it difficult to fall back asleep.

6. Irregular periods – Officially, menopause begins 12 months after a woman’s last period. The time in between monthly periods and menopause is known as perimenopause, and menopause symptoms can occur during this time. During perimenopause, irregular periods, missed periods, and spotting between periods is common. These changes are due to the decrease in estrogen and progesterone (hormones) that occurs as menopause takes place.

7. Osteoporosis – Because women going through menopause are experiencing a change in hormone levels, they are more at risk for the degenerative bone disorder osteoporosis.  This disorder causes thinning bones, and bones in this weakened state are at heightened risk for fractures and breaks.

For women whose menopause symptoms interrupt day-to-day living or lower quality of life, it’s important to contact a medical provider to discuss the severity of the symptoms. Treatment for menopause symptoms is available, many of which are non-invasive. For more severe cases, such as pelvic prolapse or frequent urinary incontinence, please contact Dr. Wittenberg of UGCSF for an effective treatment plan.