Spotting the Signals
Early menopause can manifest with a range of signs and symptoms that may be a surprise to many women in their early 40s. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for appropriate management and maintaining quality of life. In this article, we will discuss 10 signs and symptoms of early menopause to watch out for. We will also look at lifestyle changes and treatment options that can help with early menopause, including Myfembree, a medication used for the management of heavy menstrual bleeding associated with uterine fibroids in premenopausal women.
10 Signs of Early Menopause in Women 40+
1. Irregular Menstrual Cycles
One of the early signs of menopause is a change in menstrual patterns. Periods may become unpredictable, with cycles becoming longer or shorter. This is due to changing hormone levels that disrupt the regular menstrual cycle.
2. Longer or Shorter Periods
Alongside irregular cycles, the duration of periods may also vary. Some women may experience significantly longer or shorter periods than they are accustomed to during the onset of early menopause.
Spotting between periods or after sex can be a signal that hormonal fluctuations are affecting the menstrual cycle. This may be a sign of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) responding to erratic hormone levels.
4. Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are sudden, intense feelings of warmth that usually start in the face or chest and can spread throughout the body. These are caused by changes in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature. Hot flashes are a hallmark symptom of menopause.
5. Night Sweats
Similar to hot flashes, night sweats are episodes of excessive sweating that occur during sleep. These can disrupt sleep and contribute to fatigue during the day.
6. Vaginal Dryness
With declining estrogen levels, the tissues of the vagina can lose lubrication and elasticity, leading to dryness, itching and discomfort, particularly during intercourse. This symptom can affect the quality of a woman’s sexual life dramatically.
7. Frequent Urge to Urinate
Menopausal changes can also lead to a weakened pelvic floor and thinning of the urethra, resulting in a frequent need to urinate and a higher risk of urinary incontinence.
8. Urinary Tract Infections
A decrease in estrogen can make the urinary tract more vulnerable to infections. Women in early menopause may experience an increased number of urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to changes in the urinary tract and vagina.
Sleep disturbances including insomnia are common in menopausal women. This could be due to night sweats or an increased level of anxiety or stress. Poor sleep can contribute to other menopausal symptoms like mood changes and fatigue.
10. Mood Changes
Fluctuations in hormone levels can contribute to bouts of depression, anxiety, irritability and mood swings. These emotional changes can be distressing and may interfere with daily life.
Treatment Options for Early Menopause
Treatment plans for early menopause focus on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life. Here are some common treatment methods for menopause.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): HRT can relieve many of the symptoms of menopause by replacing estrogen, which diminishes during menopause. It is available in various forms, such as tablets, skin patches, gels and implants.
- Vaginal estrogen: For women with vaginal dryness, estrogen can be administered directly to the vagina using a vaginal cream, ring or tablet. This local approach helps to minimize the amount of estrogen entering the bloodstream.
- Antidepressants: Certain antidepressants, especially those in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) class, can reduce menopausal hot flashes.
- Gabapentin: Gabapentin, traditionally used to treat seizures, is effective in treating hot flashes in some women, particularly those who cannot use estrogen therapy.
- Premarin: Premarin is a brand of conjugated estrogens used to manage symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It is a form of estrogen therapy derived from natural sources.
- Myfembree: Myfembree is a medication used for the management of heavy menstrual bleeding associated with uterine fibroids in premenopausal women. It is a combination tablet containing relugolix, estradiol, and norethindrone acetate. Relugolix is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor antagonist that suppresses the production of estrogen and progesterone, hormones that can cause uterine fibroids to grow. Estradiol is a form of estrogen, and norethindrone acetate is a progestin. Together, these hormones work to reduce menstrual bleeding by regulating the menstrual cycle.
Lifestyle Changes to Help with Early Menopause
In addition to medical approaches for the treatment of early menopause, there are lifestyle modifications that can help keep symptoms from becoming overwhelming. Here are some suggested lifestyle changes for treating early menopause.
- Quit smoking: Smoking has been linked to earlier onset of menopause and increased intensity of hot flashes. Quitting smoking can improve general health and possibly mitigate menopausal symptoms.
- Limit alcohol: Excessive alcohol can exacerbate menopausal symptoms. Moderating alcohol consumption can help to reduce hot flashes and improve mood fluctuations.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to weight gain, which can in turn increase the severity of symptoms. Managing weight through a healthy diet is important.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can help alleviate menopausal symptoms, improve mood, and counteract weight gain. It also strengthens the heart and bones.
In Tune with Your Body
Managing the symptoms of early menopause is about finding the right balance of medical intervention and lifestyle modifications. Women experiencing these symptoms should consult with their healthcare providers for comprehensive advice and tailored treatment plans to ease the transition during this period of life.
Read on to learn about the different kinds of estrogen-rich foods for menopause.