There are a number of physical changes associated with aging, for example male and female menopause usually induces weight gain, as when people – more women than men - get older they tend to stop doing as much exercise. Muscle and joint pain is a very common effect of menopause in women. Bladder problems are a common difficulty as the bladder becomes weaker and people need to use pass urine more frequently. Digestive problems are caused by the weakening of connective tissue as hormones are declining and so causing the digestive system to function abnormally. Osteoporosis is a condition known as the thinning of the bones as the calcium content is declining.
Female Menopause can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms.
The first symptom is usually a change in the pattern of monthly periods.
The start of menopause is known as the premenopausal stage. During this time women can go through either light or heavy periods.
The frequency of periods may also be affected, for example someone could have periods every two or three weeks and then only every few months.
Other menopausal symptoms include: hot flushes and night sweats loss of libido (sexual desire) vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex palpitations (changes in heart rate) headaches mood changes, such as depression, anxiety or tiredness sleeping problems, such as insomnia urinary tract infections
Symptoms of menopause will usually last for two-five years before disappearing, though in some cases they can last longer. Vaginal symptoms, such as dryness, can sometimes persist and get worse as a person gets older.
Hot flushes and night sweats
A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper body, which can start in the face, neck or chest, before spreading upwards and downwards.
The skin on the face, neck and chest may become red and patchy and may start to sweat. There may also be a change in heart rate. It may become very rapid, or it may be irregular and stronger than usual (palpitations).
Hot flushes that occur at night are called night sweats. Most hot flushes only last a few minutes and they are most common in the first year after the final period.
Many menopausal women have trouble sleeping due to night sweats, but sleep disturbances may also occur as a result of anxiety.
Because of lack of sleep women can irritable and have problems with short-term memory and their ability to concentrate.
During the time leading up to the menopause, women may experience vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort. This can make sex difficult or painful (dyspareunia). These symptoms combined are known as vaginal atrophy.
About a third of women experience the symptoms of vaginal atrophy shortly after menopause, with slightly more women having them later on. In some cases, vaginal atrophy can persist for more than 10 years after the final period.
During the menopause, it is more likely to experience recurrent lower urinary tract infections, such as cystitis. Women may also feel an urgent and frequent need to pass urine.
Atherosclerosis is a possibly serious condition where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances, such as cholesterol. These substances are called plaques or atheromas.
The plaques cause affected arteries to harden and narrow which is potentially dangerous for two reasons:
Restricted blood flow can damage organs and stop them functioning properly
If a plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot that blocks the blood supply to the heart – triggering a heart attack, or the brain – triggering a stroke.
There are certain things that increase the risk of atherosclerosis. These include:
A high-fat diet
A lack of exercise
Being overweight or obese
Having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes
Having high blood pressure (hypertension)
Having high cholesterol
Atherosclerosis does not usually