In the early stages of pregnancy, there are a few symptoms a woman may experience that menopausal women do not normally report: nausea, vomiting, back aches, more frequent urination, food cravings, and the darkening of the areolas.
A woman could also refer to her previous menstrual cycles and the date of the last few times she had sex, particularly unprotected sex, to calculate if pregnancy is possible.
There are a number of symptoms that women going through menopause may experience that are not commonly found in pregnancy, or at least not the early stages of pregnancy. Some symptoms that indicate menopause are hot or cold flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, a decrease in libido, increased allergy sensitivity, loss of hair, increase of facial/body hair, softer or more brittle finger nails, disorientation, confusion, inability to concentrate, memory loss, incontinence, stronger body odor or breath, gum sensitivity, heart palpitations, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, digestive problems, muscle tension or soreness, achy joints and itchy or shock sensations in the skin.
A woman's chances of getting pregnant decreases with age, though women are still able to get pregnant into their 40s, and occasionally their 50s. Most women go through menopause in their late 40s to mid-50s, and perimenopause (onset) symptoms can begin 10 years before that. There are some cases of women going through perimenopause as young as their late 30s, and cases of women having children without fertility treatments into their mid-50s. This overlap of the time frames means there is a rather wide window of time when either is possible.
Pregnant and menopausal women may report missing a period, having an unusually short or light period or experience spotting only. They also report similar symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, irritability, weight gain, bloating, light-headedness or dizziness, breast pain and headaches. Note that not all pregnant or menopausal women experience all symptoms. Some may experience so few symptoms the change is hardly noticeable, while others may experience many symptoms, from mild to severe.
Symptoms that are typical only during menopause include hot flashes or night sweats, loss of hair, vaginal dryness and difficulty sleeping. Loss of estrogen affects the part of the brain responsible for controlling appetite, sleep cycles and body temperature. According to the Mayo Clinic, as many as 3 out of 4 women experience hot flashes when low hormones make the brain believe the body is too hot. The body goes into action to cool down---heart rate goes up, blood vessels in the skin dilate, sweat glands go into action and the result is a hot flash.
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