Early signs of menopause

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 


MENOPAUSE is considered a BIG change in a woman’s life. Women out there! Remember that you are not alone in this crucial phase of life. Knowing the early signs of menopause can help you take preventive measures and cure for your smooth journey through menopause. Read the complete article to better understand and be more aware.

What is menopause?

early signs of menopause

It is a state of absence of monthly periods (menstrual cycle) for 12 months. The average age of menopause is around 51 years of age The ovaries (egg-producing organs) produce less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The fluctuating hormone levels cause the periods to become irregular, sometimes very heavy, sometimes light eventually stopping. A woman cannot become pregnant after this phase of life known as menopause.

Early signs of menopause

It takes months or years to reach menopause. While some women experience the signs of menopause in their 40s, some might experience it in their 50s. Genetic factors are said to determine your age of menopause, but other factors such as consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and smoking can also affect your menopause. Let’s see the early signs of menopause at different ages:

(A) Early signs of menopause at 43

Menopause is considered by many as a thing of old age, but many women start experiencing the symptoms of menopause at an early age of 43.

1. Hot flashes and night sweats:

Hot flashes are sudden feelings of heat all around your body, especially the face, neck, and chest area. It is due to reducing levels of estrogen as the woman approaches menopause. You feel very hot initially and sweat, but as the heat dissipates and sweat evaporates, it can lead to a severe chill. They can last from 30 seconds to 10 minutes and range from several times an hour to a few per week. It can last from 7-10 years. Hot flashes can also occur at night, known as night sweats.

2. Irregular periods:

Your monthly periods become irregular as you approach menopause. The declining estrogen and progesterone levels are responsible for irregular periods. It lasts for 3-10 years before periods stop completely. Symptoms include irregular periods, missed periods, blood clots, and painful cramps.

3. Vaginal dryness:

Low estrogen secretion is the reason for vaginal dryness. It is a lack of moisture or lubrication in the vaginal area, causing itching, irritation, stinging and painful intercourse.

4. Fatigue and insomnia:

Again, hormones are the culprit here in causing extreme fatigue and lethargy. It can cause sudden loss of energy at any time of the day. Extreme fatigue can affect your night’s sleep even when you are dead tired.

5. Weight gain:

Hormonal changes can cause alterations in metabolism, hunger, and fullness signals, resulting in overeating and weight gain.

6. Headaches:

Low estrogen level triggers migraines and headaches. Therefore, migraine headaches are also one of the early signs of menopause at 43. Some women experience headaches and migraines before their periods as the estrogen level is low, and no headaches during pregnancy as the estrogen levels are high. To prevent such headaches, you should reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake, get proper sleep, adopt healthy eating habits, and avoid foods that trigger migraines. You will be happy to hear that once you are through your menopause, the problems of migraine headaches will vanish away.

7. Mood swing:

Hormone fluctuation, stress, and frustration dealing with hot flashes and insomnia can lead to mood changes.

8. Breast tenderness:

Changes in hormones cause a feeling of fullness, tenderness, and lumpy breasts. As the estrogen levels go low, the breasts shrink in size, become less firm, and lose their shape.

It’s difficult to get pregnant when the signs of menopause begin to show, but it is not impossible; therefore, continue taking precautions if you don’t want to get pregnant.

(B) Early signs of menopause after 45

Some women experience the signs of menopause in their late 40s. Following are the early signs of menopause at 45-55 years of age:

1. Low libido:

It means a lack of sex drive. Due to low levels of testosterone and estrogen hormones, women experience loss of libido. Low estrogen levels also cause vaginal dryness and tightness, leading to discomfort during sex. Other symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, fatigue, and night sweats, also aid in the loss of libido.

2. Difficulty to concentrate:

Inability to concentrate on daily tasks and complex tasks, as well as forgetfulness, can lead to problems at work.

3. Hair fall:

A male hormone known as testosterone is present in females at a low level, which becomes high during menopause, resulting in hair loss and hair thinning. Fluctuation of the hormone can sometimes also result in excessive hair growth on the chin.

4. Increased heart rate:

Reduced estrogen levels lead to increased heart rate and palpitations (fast heartbeat) in women. If heart palpitations happen more frequently, last longer than a couple of minutes, and are becoming worse daily, then you need to seek help from your doctor.

5. Urinary problems:

A drop in estrogen levels weakens your urinary bladder, and thinning of urethral and vaginal tissues happens during menopause. Hormonal imbalance also leads to urinary tract infections.

Early signs of ovarian cancer after menopause

Very early-stage ovarian cancer usually doesn’t show any symptoms. It is considered to be grade one, which is still in the ovary. At this stage, abdominal pain on the sides or lower abdomen and a feeling of fullness or bloatedness is the only sign that a woman experiences. Although many symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar before and after menopause, bleeding is one major difference. After experiencing menopause, you will no longer have your monthly period.

It’s also important to note that ovarian cancer is more common in women over 60. If your menopause begins late, that is around 52 years of age; then you are at more risk of developing ovarian cancer. It is because you had more ovulations as your periods induced hormones to promote the ovaries to release eggs. Women who use hormone replacement therapy after menopause are also at high risk of developing ovarian cancer.


Menopause is a natural aging process in females, and it can affect you in many ways, physical and emotional. All women should be aware of the early signs of menopause and the lifestyle changes that should be adopted along with it to prevent any complications. Remember that with the help of your doctor, you can sail smoothly through your menopause journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you experience any signs of menopause that are explained above, then contact your doctor to confirm. Your doctor will advise you menopause test with which your hormone levels will be assessed, and a proper diagnosis will be made.
Menopause is a normal process of aging in women. As you age, your ovaries produce less estrogen hormone that makes your menstrual cycle irregular, and eventually, it stops.
After menopause, when your estrogen levels go low, you are at high risk for heart disease, osteoporosis (brittle bones), urinary incontinence, and weight gain.

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