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Am I menopausal?

It can be very confusing when you start getting symptoms that might be related to menopause, since there are other possible reasons for those symptoms.

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To find out if you are indeed approaching

or have entered menopause, here are some starting questions to consider:

  1. How old are you? The average age for entering menopause is 52, but many women start noticing symptoms such as disturbances to their previously regular menstrual cycle in their mid to late 40s, and others don’t notice anything until later in their 50s. Occasionally, symptoms start in the early 40s, but this is unusual and it is worth considering other explanations for symptoms experienced at that age.
  2. Has your cycle changed? At the start of menopause some women find their periods coming more often, and sometimes more heavily, than previously. Other women will find their periods coming less frequently or being lighter than before. Sometimes the cycle becomes erratic, with no pattern emerging. Changes to your cycle at around the age of 50 are likely to be linked to menopause. If you are younger than this then there may be other reasons, such as thyroid imbalance, nutritional deficiencies (maybe linked to poor digestion or bad diet), or stress.
  3. How stressed are you? Stress is a key factor in messing up hormone balance. Not only can stress cause symptoms that look like an early menopause, but when menopause truly arrives, the stressed woman will have a rougher ride than her calmer sister. This is because the adrenal glands, which produce adrenalin in response to physical or emotional strain, are also in charge of producing hormones to prop up falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. If your adrenals are busy coping with stress, they won’t have the resources to create these back-up hormones. Your menopause will be more dramatic and harder to handle.
  4. Are you having hot flashes and/or night sweats? These are the most common symptoms of menopause, and their emergence around the late 40s or early 50s may well herald the start of menopause, especially if accompanied by changes in the menstrual cycle. There are other reasons for hot flashes and sweats though, so consider these before declaring yourself menopausal (e.g. thyroid imbalance, food intolerances, chronic stress, dehydration, side effects of medication). This isn’t an exhaustive list, so check with your doctor for other possible reasons.
  5. How many other symptoms do you have? If you have hot flashes and/or changes in your menstrual cycle, along with several of the other symptoms—aches and pains, low libido, thinning hair, changes in skin condition, vaginal dryness, disturbed sleep patterns (often due to night sweats), fatigue, low mood, emotional fragility (e.g. crying for no apparent reason), memory lapses—then it is more likely that you are indeed entering menopause. Again, there can be other reasons for many of these symptoms, primarily thyroid imbalance and chronic stress, so don’t assume that they add up to menopause unless you have most of them and your cycle is definitely awry.

More details on menopausal symptoms

The average age for experiencing menopause is still 52, despite the media focusing on women experiencing earlier menopause. Don’t be fooled into dismissing your health issues as being part of perimenopause (the run up to menopause) without solid evidence, because you may miss an important diagnosis of something else. See the alternative possibilities below.

These are genuine symptoms of menopause:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Periods becoming lighter and further apart
  • Periods becoming heavier and closer together
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Low mood
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Low libido
  • Drier skin, thinner hair, weaker nails
  • Arthritic-like joint pains
  • Fatigue
  • Memory lapses

Many of these, however, can be mistakenly blamed on menopause when actually they are due to stress, wear and tear, and diverse other health issues that should be investigated:

  • Hot flashes can be due to food intolerances, stress or thyroid imbalance.
  • Changes in the pattern of your menstrual cycle can be due to stress, thyroid imbalance, or deficiencies such as anemia (lack of iron).
  • Excessive anxiety can be due to a stressful lifestyle, caffeine intake or sleep deprivation.
  • Low libido can be due to stress and sleep deprivation (or the lack of an attractive partner!).
  • Cosmetic changes can be due to poor nutrition.
  • Fatigue can be due to sleep deprivation.
  • Joint pains can be due to an active lifestyle and wear and tear.

So don’t rush to a diagnosis of early menopause. Check for other factors first. Many women find that reducing their stress levels, eating a healthier diet, exercising lightly but regularly and prioritizing sleep will reduce or eliminate many of the above symptoms.

So if it's not menopause, what then?

Find the right product to help your symptoms:

What do you think?

Have you found what you read useful? If so, I would love if you would leave your comment below. Thanks Sonia Chartier

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