What are the signs and symptoms of menopause?

Updated: Jun 06, 2018
  • Author: PonJola Coney, MD; Chief Editor: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG  more...
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Answer

Answer

Atrophic cystitis, when present, can mimic a urinary tract infection (UTI). Women report symptoms of urinary frequency, urgency, and incontinence. However, atrophic cystitis renders women more prone to UTI during this time, and a urine culture should be obtained in all symptomatic women.

In addition to alterations in the pelvic organs, marked changes occur throughout the body. Skin loses elasticity, bone mineral density (BMD) declines, and dense breast tissue is replaced by adipose tissue, making mammographic evaluation easier.

The most common presenting complaint in the MT is symptomatic hot flashes. Flashes (or flushes), which are unpredictable in onset and sometimes occur over many years, are reported in about 75% of women who are perimenopausal or postmenopausal. Hot flashes often cause embarrassment and discomfort, as well as sleep disturbances and emotional lability, especially if they are intense and occur frequently. Vasomotor episodes usually last a few minutes. Their frequency ranges from hourly to every few days.

A woman whose flushes are severe enough to cause major sleep disturbances may also complain of cognitive or affective disorders resulting from sleep deprivation. The vasomotor flush is described as a feeling of warmth or heat that begins from the umbilical area and moves upward toward the head, followed by sweating of the head and upper body.

A study by McCurry et al found that telephone-based cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia improved sleep in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women with insomnia and hot flashes. [19, 20]

Other cardiovascular or neurologic symptoms (eg, palpitations, dizziness, light-headedness, and vertigo) can also occur, with or without flushing, making the episode more difficult to classify as simply a climacteric symptom. Because of the wide range of symptoms, symptomatic women who have risk factors for a condition other than menopause should undergo thorough evaluation.

A study by Kim et al suggests menopause does not increase the risk of diabetes, [21]  however, a study by Muka et al found that early onset of menopause is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. [22]


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