The most common (and one of the first) symptoms of menopause is the hot flash, which occurs to a greater or lesser degree in 75 percent of menopausal women. Other symptoms include night sweats (hot flashes that occur at night, sometimes waking you), palpitations, insomnia, disorientation, mood swings, and minor depression.
There is a long list of other symptoms, common and uncommon, and a great difference in symptomology among women. That’s because although menopause is universal, it is also unique to each woman. So if you sit down with a group of three or four friends to discuss menopausal symptoms, it is likely that you each may have different symptoms or you may have the same symptoms to different degrees. Symptoms will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 3.
I’m forty-eight and haven’t had a period in menopause? Should I see a doctor?
Yes, see your doctor: That is the only way to learn what is happening in your body. If your physician suspects menopause, he or she will probably do a simple blood test to determine either the amount of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or the serum estradiol concentration. Those numbers should indicate whether you are in menopause. Produced by the pituitary gland located in the base of the skull, FSH causes the release of the egg from the ovaries. If it is working but can’t accomplish that release as would be indicated by a higher FSH number it is a signal that the ovary is running (or has run) out of eggs and is ceasing its production of the female sex hormone, which is what causes menopause. The newer serum estradiol concentration test tells even more about how much estrogen is in our blood.
Can a woman be going through menopause at AGE THIRTY-NINE?
Thirty-nine is on the early side, but of course, she can. This is an excellent time to see your physician to determine whether you are having menopausal symptoms. Approximately eight out of one hundred women may go through premature menopause.