Signs and Symptoms
1. A sudden sensation of heating up, usually on the face, neck or chest. It may include profuse sweating and night sweats that disrupt sleep.
2. Irregular periods. Menstrual flow may be very heavy or very light and eventually, periods cease.
3. Irritability, mood swings and difficulty concentrating.
4. Vaginal dryness.
5. Pain during intercourse.
What to do now
1. For vaginal dryness use a lubricant. If you and your partner use condoms, use a water-soluble lubricant, not petroleum jelly.
2. Wear absorbent cotton clothes if you are having night sweats or hot flashes.
3. Drink plenty of water, and keep yourself cool.
4. Talk to your family and friends about the changes you are going through.
5. Keep using birth control even when periods become irregular and for a year or two after they cease, cause even at this period there is risk of pregnancy. If you are on birth control pills, you may continue to have periods even after menopause. If you are near 50 and taking the Pill, ask your doctor about a blood check called an FSH test, that can determine whether it’s safe to stop.
6. Try to reduce stress. Exercise regularly, eat balanced meals, avoid caffeine, and take naps during the day if night sweats are interrupting your sleep.
7. Reduce your risk of heart disease by making efforts to lose weight if you are over weight by switching to a low fat diet.
8. Quit smoking.
9. Take calcium supplements daily and do weight bearing exercise (such as walking, or lifting light weights to guard against osteoporosis.
When to Call a Doctor
1. If you experience long-term heavy bleeding, or any bleeding one year after your period stops. This could be a sign of uterine cancer.
2. If you have any symptoms that seriously disrupt your sleep, work or daily activities.