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Here's What Menopause Feels Like, Says OB/GYN

It’s a process every woman goes through.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

"Menopause is a natural process which occurs in every woman. It is defined by 12 months without menses and reflected by decline in women's reproductive hormones. It marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It typically occurs by the mid 50's," says Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx. Read on to find out what menopause feels like—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Your periods become irregular

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"This is the classic sign that you are on your way to menopause," says WebMD. "Your periods may come more often or less often, be heavier or lighter, or last longer or shorter than before." "While the menopausal transition may commonly be referred to as 'menopause,' true menopause doesn't happen until one year after a woman's final menstrual period. For that reason, a woman who does not want to get pregnant should continue to use birth control for at least a full 12 months after her last period," says the NIH.

2

You have hot flashes and night sweats

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"Hot flashes can make you feel warm or hot suddenly for no apparent reason. Your skin may flush red and your heart may beat faster. Then you may feel suddenly cold," says WebMD. "Night sweats are hot flashes that happen during sleep. They can be so intense they wake you up."

3

You have trouble sleeping

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According to WebMD, "Waking up during the night or having trouble going to sleep can happen for lots of reasons, but if you don't typically have problems sleeping, it may be a sign you're approaching menopause."

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4

Your sexual activity changes

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"After menopause, the vagina may become drier, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable," says The NIA. "You could be less interested, or you could feel freer and sexier because after one full year without a period, you can no longer become pregnant." 

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5

Your body seems different

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"Your waist could get larger. You could lose muscle and gain fat. Your skin could become thinner," says The NIA. "You might have memory problems, and your joints and muscles could feel stiff and achy."

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6

How You Can Reduce the Negative Impact of Menopause?

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"Menopause cannot be prevented. Pending the absence of underlying contraindicated health conditions, menopause may be treated with hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen, antidepressants, gabapentin, and vitamin D," says Dr. Gaither. So talk to your doctor. And to ensure your health don't miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn't Know Were Deadly.

Emilia Paluszek
Emilia specializes in human biology and psychology at the University at Albany. Read more