Are your symptoms signs of menopause?
It’s not always easy to know whether you’re going through perimenopause, that phase leading up to your last menstrual period. Ask yourself these questions:
Do you have abnormally heavy periods?
Are your periods irregular?
Menstrual irregularity is a hallmark of perimenopause.
Have you gained weight recently?
Most women put on extra weight with the approach of menopause.
Are you experiencing hot flushes?
These moment-to hour-long episodes of feeling quite uncomfortably warm, sometimes accompanied by skin flushing and perspiration, occur in about 45–80 per cent of perimenopausal women in Western countries.
Note, however, that abnormal sensations of heat can also occur in hyperthyroidism, a condition that affects some middle-aged women.
Are you troubled by irritability, poor concentration, mood swings or forgetfulness?
About two-thirds of perimenopausal women in a recent study reported sometimes or often experiencing these symptoms.
They are especially common among women who have a history of depression.
When menopause is early…
Menopause arrives early for some women. Here are some common reasons:
Surgery. A woman who has had her ovaries removed, either independently or as part of a total hysterectomy, experiences immediate menopause. Other types of abdominal surgery can interrupt the flow of blood to the ovaries, causing follicles to die.
Premature ovarian failure. Women who enter menopause while they’re in their thirties or even twenties may have illnesses that cause their ovaries to stop functioning well ahead of schedule. A thorough medical evaluation is appropriate.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This medical condition interferes with ovulation, causing inflammation and scarring that damages and destroys follicles.
Autoimmune disorders. These include insulin-dependent diabetes, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Cancer treatments. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy often trigger early menopause. Women taking tamoxifen to reduce their risk of breast cancer may also enter menopause early.
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