The period of 2 to 7 years preceding menopause is called menopause (not menopause). Ovulation becomes more irregular. Estrogen levels can vary very significantly. During these transition years, menstrual irregularities and bothersome symptoms appear: hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood swings, etc.
Symptoms are usually more pronounced during menopause. These symptoms are related to hormonal changes that occur during this transition period, but also to aging. They show up unpredictably and vary a lot from one month to the next.
Irregular menstruation. They are a frequent manifestation of hormonal instability that occurs during menopause.
Hot flashes and night sweats. Hot flashes are usually felt first in the abdomen or chest. The heat rises in a few seconds to the neck and face. Their duration varies from a few seconds to a few minutes. Their frequency and intensity are very variable from one woman to another. Sometimes they are accompanied by palpitations and sweats. 50 to 80% of women feel. Hot flashes are the main reason for women to consult a health professional in menopause.
They are characterized by a significant sweating throughout the body. They occur at night and can interrupt sleep. The important thing is to ask yourself if the hot flashes and night sweats are damaging the quality of life enough to require treatment.
Sleep problems are a common cause of complaint during this period of transition. Generally, with age, nights are shorter and the quality of sleep tends to be less good. Hormonal changes can also affect sleep. For example, the difficulty of falling asleep and frequent awakenings during the night are usually related to hot flashes and night sweats. These sleep disorders can lead to severe fatigue, irritability, mood disorders and concentration difficulties.
Although this is still controversial, the period surrounding menopause appears to be a period of greater emotional vulnerability. Irritability, the tendency to cry more often, mood changes, anxiety and lack of motivation or energy are the most frequently reported inconveniences during this period of life. Women who suffered from depression before menopause also sometimes see their symptoms worsen.
Sexual desire is a complex human phenomenon that, on the hormonal level, depends primarily on sex hormones: estrogen and androgen (testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone). According to the results of a large study on women in menopause, libido and sexual arousal tend to decrease with years. For more information about sexuality with age, see our sexuality section.
Dryness of the mucous membranes.
The cessation of estrogen secretion by the ovaries decreases the production of mucus in the vagina and bladder.
This decrease in production results in the drying and thinning of the mucous membranes. In addition, vaginal secretions change: they become more aqueous and more alkaline (less acidic). More than half of postmenopausal women experience discomfort related to vaginal dryness. These discomfort are manifested by itching, a burning sensation in the vagina and on the vulva and pain during sexual intercourse. This drought of the mucous membranes does not pose a risk to health. There are solutions to alleviate the discomfort it causes.
Skin aging, drier hair.
The skin tends to become drier, and wrinkles, more pronounced. The hair becomes drier and fragile. Indeed, the decrease in estrogen causes a reduction in the production of collagen and elastin, 2 substances that play an important role in the elasticity of the skin as well as in its tone. However, the main causes of the onset of wrinkles remain the time (ageing) and cumulative exposure to the sun. In addition, other factors can change the appearance of the skin and hair, such as a slowdown in the activity of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). So we have to assess the situation globally.