Women can find that their skin becomes itchier and drier, particularly on the vulva, after the menopause. The vaginal and vulval tissues become thinner and more fragile without oestrogen and this can make them become irritated or more prone to infections and skin conditions.
Dropping levels of oestrogen can have an effect on the level of endorphins (or feel good chemicals) in your brain. Many women will feel snappy or irritable with those around them during the menopause. Lack of sleep, depression and adapting to changes in your life (such as your children leaving home or retirement) can be the cause of this just as much as the menopause though.
Most of us have heard of, or experienced, hot flushes. That overwhelming tidal wave of heat, flushing and sweating that comes out of the blue. This is because of changes in the part of the brain that regulates temperature. The good news is that they do eventually settle although this does vary between women.
Hormone changes can cause some women to retain water or produce more gas than before the menopause. Becoming less active can also make bloating worse. Women often blame the menopause for weight gain at this time of their life but most cases of weight gain around your 40s and 50s are actually due to decreasing activity levels and changes in diet. The good news is that these can be influenced, whereas the onset of the menopause can’t.
Many women report that they struggle to get to sleep during or after the menopause. Hot flushes are often the cause of this. Insomnia or lack of sleep may mean that you feel tired and sleepy throughout the day.
Although lots of women report that they started to become forgetful after their periods stopped, there isn’t actually any evidence to link memory problems with the menopause. However, there is a link between getting older and not being able to remember things as well. If you are preoccupied with lots of other symptoms then this will also make you more likely to become forgetful.
The familiar stereo-type is of the knife wielding menopausal woman. Contrary to popular opinion, women do not turn into axe wielding maniacs once they stop needing to buy Tampax, and there is much than can be done to help cope with the irritability and mood swings that some women experience.