Menopause Symptoms to Discuss With Your Doctor

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Menopause is a time of shifting hormones and annoying symptoms—some of which can interfere with your life. Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, and mood swings are common during menopause.

But, some effects of menopause may be more than just annoying. When estrogen and progesterone levels drop, symptoms may signal a real health concern.

Once you’ve entered perimenopause, it’s important to pay attention to your body. Some of these health issues might slip by unnoticed, bowing to the more dramatic effects of night sweats or mood meltdowns. But it is important to address these issues—most of the troublesome or dangerous effects of menopause are treatable, or at least temporary. And keep in mind that women who have more severe menopausal symptoms are also likely to experience relationship distress.

In particular, watch for these signs:

Heavy Bleeding

If your periods have become increasingly heavy, be sure to keep track of your bleeding pattern. Conditions such as fibroid tumors or uterine polyps can cause irregular bleeding and serious blood loss. When your periods become irregular during menopause, you might blame all menstrual irregularities on hormonal changes, potentially ignoring serious medical issues.

Pay attention to the amount that you are bleeding for a couple of cycles, and if you find that you are changing a maxi pad or super tampon more than once an hour for more than eight hours, you could be bleeding enough to lead to anemia. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your bleeding—either during your periods or at other times during your cycle.

Depression

The hormone changes in menopause can trigger depression, which is among the major issues that can affect a woman's quality of life during menopause.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you notice that you have any of the following signs of depression:

  • Cry more than usual
  • Feel hopeless or overwhelmingly anxious
  • Have thoughts about dying or hurting yourself
  • Can’t enjoy things you used to, including sex
  • Lose your appetite
  • Have a weight gain or loss that you can’t really explain
  • Are irritable or angry more than usual

Consider confiding in a close friend or family member when you suspect that you may be depressed. If you need a little moral support to encourage you to see a doctor or counselor, ask your friend, husband or partner to go with you to the first appointment.

Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations, which can manifest as the sensation of a racing pulse, are among the common signs of heart disease. During menopause, heart disease can begin to rear its head —so if you experience palpitations, it’s time to see your doctor.

And if you experience chest pain, a burning sensation, difficulty breathing, sweating, fatigue or sudden anxiety, call 911 because these are signs of a heart attack.

High Blood Pressure

After the age of 50 women start catching up with men in the "heart disease" department. High blood pressure might be the first sign that your cardiovascular system is beginning to show some wear and tear. As your hormones change during menopause, the walls of your blood vessels may become less flexible.

Hypertension is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Blood pressure can climb slowly, unannounced. Or it can suddenly be quite high, without any obvious symptoms.

When you begin to see signs of menopause, get your blood pressure checked at least every six months. You can do it at a local drug store, fire station, or your doctor’s office, but try to have it done at the same place each time so you can compare it reliably. See your healthcare provider right away if you find you are having any of the following signs of hypertension:

  • Headaches that are more often or severe than usual
  • Trouble with your vision
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Problems with breathing, either at rest or after exercise
  • Any sort of chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Periods of confusion
  • Blood in your urine

While these are obvious signs of a problem, high blood pressure can also have no symptoms at all. Again, as you approach the age of menopause, have your blood pressure screened regularly so you can get treatment at the first signs of concern.

You will need time to adjust to and understand your “new” body and paying attention to symptoms can help you identify health issues early. Menopause is a great excuse to start taking good care of yourself!

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