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Symptoms of the Menopause

Symptoms of the Menopause

The obvious symptoms include cessation of the periods, which can occur suddenly or gradually – often there will be one or more missed periods, before they finally stop. In many cases the periods can become very irregular over a number of years before the menopause occurs and this is often referred as being “peri-menopausal”. 25% of women have no problems with going through the menopause, 50% will have some problems and 25% have significant problems.

The other symptoms include hot flushes, sweats, palpitations, fatigue, weight gain, fluid retention, bloating, urinary frequency, joint pains, insomnia, panic attacks, sexual difficulties and mood change. This can be anything from irritability or mood swings to full blown depression. Headaches can also occur and it is not uncommon to develop digestive problems such as food intolerance as well. The other significant problem associated with the menopause is osteoporosis which results in weakening of the bones which can fracture easily following a fall.
Diagnosis of the Menopause The Menopause is diagnosed when there have been no periods for eighteen months. This is because some women stop for six months then have one or more periods before another long gap. This is still the “peri-menopause. Investigations may include a blood test to look at hormone levels such as oestrogen and progesterone. These will be low and there will be an associated rise in the pituitary hormones Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH). These are the results of the body’s efforts to drive the failing ovaries in an attempt to make them produce the female hormones again. These tests are rarely needed, as the clinical picture is usually so clear.