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First Symptoms of Menopause

When a woman suspects she may be experiencing the first symptoms of menopause this will usually cause her to begin some personal research.


This is what I did, casually at the beginning. One of the first articles I read, in on of the many women’s magazines available today, suggested talking to your mother. I was 50 years old when I thought that I may be beginning this phase of life. My mother had passed away a few years earlier. So I was not able to have a conversation with her about this topic. Generally a mother and daughter will have very similar experiences with their menstrual cycles. For instance the age they began menstruating, the length of each cycle, cramping, headaches, and the age they begin entering the menopausal stage.


As a woman and a mom, I can give you a non-clinical or college educated medical description of some of the first symptoms of menopause.  I can define menopause for you in my own words.  It is a women’s final menstrual period. This phase may take anywhere from one year to several years.  Every woman’s experience with their period is slightly different.  During the years that a woman is menstruating, her body produces estrogen and progesterone.  She has a higher production of estrogen prior to each ovulation and high estrogen and progesterone levels after ovulation.  These hormonal changes cause the mood swings, headaches and other adverse symptoms during the time leading up to her period or during her cycle.       


Signs & Symptoms


The symptoms experienced during a woman’s period are very similar to the first symptoms of menopause, except possibly magnified by 10 in some situations.  The first noticeable sign will be irregular menstrual cycles or periods that may last longer.  In my situation my period mysteriously (and happily) stopped for about 3 or 4 months.  Then I experienced very heavy menstrual bleeding (unhappily) lasting much longer than a regular period. Then it would cease again for sometimes a few weeks or maybe a few months.  The biggest problem is in the not knowing when it will occur again.  I was forced to carry supplies (or change of clothes) with me at all times.  After about a year of this my period (joyfully) stopped altogether.  I still carried those supplies with me just in case of a surprise attack!  I will have to say that, as a rule, if you experienced rather mild menstrual cycles, with few adverse symptoms, your experience with menopause will generally be with the same intensity. 






Hot Flashes and Weight Gain


I then began to experience another one of the first symptoms of menopause, hot flashes.  These are called, in clinical terms, vasomotor symptoms.  These happen mostly at night.  They would occasionally surprise me during the day.  Being a fair skinned blond, I blush easily.  I would be sitting in a business meeting and suddenly begin feeling very warm and flush.  This would be quite apparent to others in the room.  During the night I would wake during one of these hot flashes, my clothes damp and sweaty. The ten pounds I gained during the next few months is another one of the first symptoms of menopause. 


Exercise Prescription


Hot flashes, gaining weight, and lack of sleep can result in moodiness and depression.  There are a few things you can do to prepare for this time of life or relieve some of these first symptoms of menopause if you are already experiencing them.  I started an exercise program.  Exercise can help reduce these symptoms and decrease the possibility of heart disease, osteoporosis, and obesity.  I joined a local gym and sought the advice of a female personal trainer.  She helped develop an individualized exercise routine according to my medical and exercise history. 


Find a Good Physician


Whether you feel you should begin an exercise program or possibly go a step further and start hormone replacement therapy seek out a trusted physician that specializes in menopause.  She will help guide and direct you to the proper therapy.  There is a lot of documentation and personal opinions available on how to provide some relief from the first signs of menopause. The important thing for me was to start something immediately after I started experiencing these first signs of menopause.  For me it hasn’t been all that bad.  My menstrual cycles when I was young were very regular, lasting 2 to 3 days, and I rarely experienced any adverse symptoms of headaches and cramping.  Now my husband may have a different opinion, especially when (on a very rare occasion) I may suddenly lash out at him or ask him to turn the heater off on a very frigid winter night.