Menopause : What are the primary signs?

Menopause is that period of a woman's life that marks the end of menstruation. It is diagnosed retrospectively, i.e. we consider a woman to be in menopause when she has gone 12 months without menstruation. It is a normal biological process and the average age of onset is 51-52 years, although it can range from 47-55 years. It occurs earlier in women who smoke, and genetic predisposition and the age at which the woman's mother entered menopause play an important role.

Organically, this period of time is characterised by a decrease in the levels of progesterone and oestrogen production by the ovaries and a compensatory increase in the levels of the luteinising hormone LH and the follicle-stimulating hormone FSH by the pituitary gland. At menopause a woman loses her reproductive capacity.

"Menopause does not occur without warning. There is the transitional period before it occurs, called perimenopause or climacteric."

Woman looking out window 

During this time period, which can last from 1-2 years and in some cases up to 10 years before menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop but can also fluctuate, leading to the onset of symptoms.

The first symptoms vary in intensity and frequency from woman to woman. The most common are:

- Cycle disorders. Cycles are shorter in duration or sometimes more frequent and with heavy menstrual periods and then become thinner

- Hot flashes

- Problems with sleep, such as difficulty in coming and poor quality of sleep

- Reduction in skin elasticity. The skin becomes thinner and drier, with an increase in wrinkling

- Hair becomes weak and hair loss occurs

- Mood changes occur with predominance of nervousness, irritability, depressive feelings, inability to concentrate, memory disorders and lack of energy

- Decrease in sexual desire, dryness of the vagina, infections of the genitourinary system

- Increase in body weight with the development of abdominal obesity, which is an indicator of increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Hot flashes are the most characteristic and distressing symptom of menopause.

They are described by women who experience them as a sensation of sudden and intense heat accompanied by profuse sweating in the upper part of the body, usually followed by a feeling of cold. The duration of the flush lasts from one to ten minutes and occurs mainly at night, with consequent interruption of sleep.

The frequency of occurrence varies both during the menopause and during the menopause.

The exact cause of hot flashes remains unclear, but it is believed to be due to fluctuations in hormone levels occurring during this time period and the increased sensitivity of the body's temperature control system.

*Georgia Farmaki MD, MPH, PhD. Biopathologist, Microbiologist.

Graduate of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Postgraduate degree in Public Health from the National University of Athens

Doctoral thesis at EKPA

Diplomate in Anti Aging and Regenerative Medicine

American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine

Private practice since 1997

Scientific director of the Microbiology Department of Orthobiology

We read it on Vichy Creece

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