Menopause literally means a "pause of menstruation." In actuality menopause denotes a complete cessation of menstruation and the end of a woman’s ability to naturally reproduce. Much like when menstruation begins, the cessation of menstruation is accompanied by hormonal changes in the body. These hormonal changes induce symptoms in a menopausal woman such as hot flushes, moodiness and skin sensitivity like blotchiness and pins and needles.
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Women going through menopause often experience pins and needles in their hands and feet. This can be accompanied by a swollen feeling in the hands and feet that most often happens at night. Alternatively, menopausal women may experience a prickly pins-and-needles sensation that runs up the limbs in waves.
Changing hormonal levels, particularly in oestrogen, are the prime cause of menopausal symptoms. According to Menopause Matters, 70 per cent of all women experience adverse menopausal symptoms like pins and needles, hot flushes and moodiness. Symptoms can be aggravated by factors such as diet and lifestyle, exercise habits and stress and emotional traumas. Pins and needles during menopause is particularly prominent in women with concurrent diabetes, vitamin B deficiency and high blood pressure. Pins and needles or prickling sensations may also be related to skin dryness which is common in menopausal women.
The onset of menopause is different for every woman; however the median age of menopause is 51, with most women starting menopause between 44 to 55, as stated in Gynae Online. Pins and needles can occur during the perimenopausal phase, which can be a number of years leading up to the final menstruation. Symptoms usually subside after menopause—the post-menopausal phase of a woman’s life.
Because most of the menopausal symptoms are caused by a decrease in the amount of oestrogen in the body, replacing oestrogen is a common solution—this is called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT should only be used in cases of extreme discomfort, as the treatment comes with associated risks like breast cancer and gall bladder disease. For pins and needles treatment can involve light exercise during the day to increase circulation; avoiding tight-fitting clothing—especially socks; avoiding synthetic clothing (especially socks and underwear) and synthetic bed linens and taking a cool bath or shower prior to going to bed to help with circulation and to soothe the skin. Applying natural moisturisers can also help avoid pins and needles and prickling caused by dryness.
Pins and needles can also be a symptom of other illnesses and conditions. If persistent pins and needles is the prime symptoms then consulting a doctor is necessary to rule out other causes. This is a particularly important point if pins and needles occurs regularly along the left arm and hand as this can be a sign of heart problems and may even be a precursor to a heart attack.
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