Are These Symptoms Menopause? What is the Formal Definition of Menopause?

Everyone knows about hot flashes and sleeplessness, sweating and night sweats, as well as the host of vaginal symptoms that do occur at the time of menopause. But there are many symptoms not officially designated in 'the menopause' that do occur with great frequency. So the formal definition of symptoms attributable to menopause becomes a bit blurry when you talk to women and then get the take on menopause definition from their physicians. Lets take the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and moodiness. Is it formally due to menopause? A consequence of untreated menopausal symptoms or just due to what else goes on at that time of life? A consequence of the empty nest some women find themselves in when it is, coincidentally, their menopausal time. How about headaches? Is that due to the lack of sleep, the lack of the birth control pills you used to be on, the attempts to diet, the blood pressure or blood sugar problems that you may be having, or just simply menopause? It's not universally agreed by all the experts. On such expert by the name of Kupperman had a score for 12 of the symptoms of menopause: hot flashes, paresthesia (numbness or tingling), insomnia, myalgia (or muscle aching or pains), palpitations (irregular heart rate), formication (it's the sensation of prickling that feels like an insect is crawling), insomnia (no sleep), vertigo (dizzy or wooziness), or weakness. Others have used the menopause rating scale, and other physicians use quality of life scales. My patients tell me they get overall warm, or actually turn red, or get cold sweats, or drenching sweat. And technically Kupperman's score doesn't really ask about the degree of sweating unless you call your sweating a hot flash. Various physician organizations have scales for associated problems like the vaginal dryness or urinary incontinence symptoms! Ultimately it's important to define menopause if you are in a research study, but most important is for you and your physician to get together and decide what symptoms you are having, if these symptoms are hormonal, and if these symptoms need treatment, regardless of what you attribute these symptoms to.


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