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When you think of the symptoms of menopause you’re probably picturing a woman bathed in sweat trying to get some sleep at night, or losing hunks of her hair in the shower. Perhaps she’s just a bit vague or absent.
These are certainly common symptoms but it may surprise you to know that there are actually 34 symptoms of menopause. Some are more common than others.
Some women will breeze through perimenopause as if nothing happened and some will experience severe symptoms that are debilitating. Whilst most women won’t have to deal with all of these changes the sheer number of possibilities may seem daunting. So what are the 34 symptoms of menopause?
It is worth knowing that these symptoms can all be reduced or eliminated with simple treatment.
When does Menopause start?
Although many that refer to menopause, myself included, often refer to it as a period of time it is actually one moment in time. That moment is exactly when you have reached 12 months with out experiencing a period.
The average age that this happens is 51.
Before this you are considered to be in perimenopause and that usually starts in your 40’s. It may be a little earlier and some women will be later.
How long does perimenopause and menopause last?
The perimenopause stage can last from 12 months to five years in most women. Your ovaries will gradually release less estrogen as you go through this time.
Women who have gone through chemotherapy or had a hysterectomy may experience menopause earlier.
What Are The 34 Symptoms Of Menopause?
1. Hot Flashes
Regarded as one of the most common menopausal symptoms, hot flashes or hot flushes as they’re know her in Australia affect 75% of women. Tell-tale signs of a hot flash? A visible redness on the chest, neck, and face. You many feel very overheated and sweaty as well. For me it almost felt like a pang of anxiety follwed by the overheating.
Aside from hormone therapy there are natural things you can do to cool down.
How to reduce naturally: Cut down on caffeine and alcohol and stop smoking.
Keep your bedroom cool and wear light clothing.
I managed to completely stop the hot flashes by giving up added sugar and you can read about that here:
2. Night Sweats
Night sweats are like hot flashes that occur at night, while you are sleeping generally. The few I experienced seemed to be worse than a hot flash as I had to get out of bed until the sweating died down. They affect about 75% of women experiencing menopause.
See Hot Flushes for how to reduce naturally.
3. Irregular Periods
Your menstrual cycle will become irregualar and this is one of the earlier symptoms of perimenopause in most women. As your egg production decreases, your hormone levels drop too. This is when you might notice irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness and moodswings. Periods become erratic, they can be heavy or light or not come at.
4. Mood Swings
27% of women experience mood swings or low mood. They are a common and frustrating symptom. They are often more extreme than the usually PMS mood changes you may have experienced.
I found taking a Vitamin D supplement helped immensly with moderating my moods.
Read more on supplements: The Best Supplements For Energy In Midlife
5. Vaginal Dryness
This becomes more prevalent as estrogen levels which are responsible for lubrication are decreasing. Often beginning in perimenopause, vaginal dryness tends to become more prominent post-menopause. This may lead to painful sex and overall discomfort and itching down there.
6. Decreased Libido
The same decreasing estrogen can also lead to decreased libido. This is different for each woman though as some women report a heightened libido. A decreased libido could also be associated with weight gain and body changes.
The changes in your hormones may lead to headaches as the hormones released by your ovaries can also affect chemiacls in the brain. Unfortunately if you were prone to headaches during your period it is more likely you’ll get them during perimenopause and menopause too.
8. Breast Soreness
Tender breasts are a common symptom of menopause and signal hormonal fluctuations just as you may have felt during your period or pregnancy
9. Burning Mouth
Much like vaginal dryness a reduction in your estrogen during menopause leads to reduced saliva production. This can result in ‘burning mouth syndrome’ and feel like a burning sensation throughout your lips, tongue, inside of your cheeks, throat and the roof of your mouth.
10. Joint Pain
Achey sensations, stiffness, and even swelling around the joint are all common signs of menopause joint pain and stiffness.
Try adding more anti inflammatory foods to your diet such as nuts, seeds, fatty fish and berries. Also consider cutting out as many inflammatory foods as you can such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, trans fat, vegetable and seed oils, processed meat and corn syrup.
Read more on anti inflammatory foods: The Best Anti Inflammatory Foods To Include In Your Diet In Menopause
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11. Digestive Problems
Stomach bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, cramps, flatulece. As estrogen levels decrease cortisol levels increase causing digestive issues.
Keep your gut microbiome happy by eating plenty of soluble and insoluble fibre, and probiotics such as greek yoghurt, kombucha and kimchi. Also avoid inflammatory foods such as the ones mentioned in Joint Pain. You can also add to that non natural sugar alternatives.
Read More On Gut Health: How To Improve Your Gut Health Naturally In Midlife
12. Electric Shock Sensations
Fluctuating estrogen levels can cause incorrect firing of neurons in the brain resulting in an electric jolt. This symptom is not particularly common but it is something to watch out for.
13. Tight Muscles
The stress and anxiety that can present with the mood swings of menopause can cause muscle tension also.
A bath in Epsom salts helps as does yoga and meditation. You could also try a good magnesium supplement before bed.
This is a triple magnesium supplement voted the best in 2021 by Healthline
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14. Gum Problems
Up to a third of menopausal women experience a metallic taste in their mouth indicating they are having gum problems. If this is you it is possible worth a visit to a health practitioner to get it looked at.
15. Tingling Extremities
As the fluctuating hormones can affect your neurons they can also affect your central nervous system causing a sensation of tingling throughout your extremities.
16. Itchy Skin
As estrogen decreases so does your collagen levels. Collagen is a protein in your body that keeps skin feeling comfortable, soft, and plump.
Keep moisturized and invest in a good natural face cream to protect against wrinkles and drink plenty of water.
Lack of energy is a common story from menopausal women. Estrogen, progesterone, thyroid and adrenal hormones all play a part in energy levels and as they fluctuate in menopause, women can feel drained
Along with the mood swings we mentioned earlier can come anxiety. It is something to monitor so that it doesn’t get out of hand.
Mindfulness activitives like meditation and colouring can go a long way towards helping with this.
Read more on anxiety and depression in menopause: How To Deal With Depression And Anxiety During Menopause
19. Disrupted Sleep
The menopause brings particular challenges for women, night sweats, mood changes and having to go the the loo more frequently, which can all disrupt your sleep. Sleep apnoea can also worsen after the menopause.
Limiting sugar and empty carbohydrates can have an enormous vastly improved my sleep. It is an easy fix and maybe worth trying.
Read more on quitting sugar: How To Quit Sugar Easily And Improve Your Health
20. Hair Loss
Unfortunately as women age they lose hair volume and it tends to thin. The onset of menopause can accelarte that charming symptom.
21. Memory Lapses
Have you gone to say something only to forget a certain word, or you’ve walked into a room and completely forgotten what you went in their for. Those memory lapses can usually be put down to fatigue.
It is important to work at improving cognitive function by staying fit, eating healthy wholefoods, getting good sleep, and continuing to learn new things.
This loss of cognitive function can be accompanied by other symptoms such as brain fog and loss of confidence.
22. Difficulty Concentrating
When your estrogen levels decrease, the brain is no longer able to make enough energy to help you focus and so concentration can become difficult.
Again, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep.
23. Weight Gain
Thanks to your hormonal changes during menopause muscle mass declines meaning less energy or fat is being burned. Weight gain tends to follow especially as many women are still doing the same exercise routines and eating the same amount of food.
Consider changing up your exercise routine as per this post:
The one exercise
Also make sure you are eating a balanced diet of wholefoods, healthy fats and proteins and minimal fruits.
24. Dizzy Spells
Sudden bouts of dizziness during menopause is another symptom associated with a drop in your levels of estrogen.
Bloating is one of the earlier symptoms of menopause and tends to subside later on. If you are have persistent bloating that doesnt go away you should check with your Doctor that it is not due to something else.
26. Stress Incontinence
The inability to control your bladder when you lift heavy items off the ground or cough is called stress incontinence and it can get worse with age.
If you are struggling with this see a gynecologist who can refer you to a physio that deals with this. They can help hugely.
27. Brittle Nails
Estrogen is essential in maintaining your keratin layer, which keeps your nails strong. Couple that with dehydration and you can have dry, brittle nails that break more easily.
As your levels are closely linked to your immune response low estrogen levels can your nervous system so that your immune system produces more histamine. This increases the possibility of you becoming allergic to things that haven’t bothered you until now. Dust, pollen, pets, chemicals and most disturbingly, wine.
29. Irregualar Heart Beat
Decreased estrogen levels are to blame here (surprise surprise). These lowered estrogen levels can overstimulate the nervous and circulatory system. The effect is an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations. Be sure to communicate this one to your health-care provider if it persists.
30. Body Odour
Changes in hormones can change your natural scent. Some women notice a change when they are pregnant which is due to the hormone activity. The same goes here. The hot flashes may also play a part.
Surprise, surprise, fluctuations in hormones can cause frustration and irritability to raise their heads.
Try meditaion or relaxing techniques like 4-7-8 breathing to bring the irriatibility level down.
Studies show that menopausal women are 4 times more likely to suffer from depression. The difficult part of this is that the connection to fluctuating hormones can be missed and antidepressants subscribed. You are the master controller of your health and you will know best if you feel unable to cope and should seek help.
33. Panic Attacks
The heightened anxiety that women can experience in menopause can lead to panic disorder with the result being panic attacks. If this is something that is happening for you it is advisable to seek help from a medical professional.
If you are feeling a panic attack coming on try the breathing methods mentioned in symptom 31 as well as some grounding techiques.
Once again due to lower estrogen levels bone density decreases in menopause.
You can improve this with calcium supplements, a balanced healthy diet and regular strength exercises.
What Is HRT?
HRT is Hormone Replacement Therapy. It is the recognised medical treatment for menopause and works by replacing deficient hormones. It helps to improve symptoms and lower the risk of health issues that low hormone levels can trigger, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Hormone therapy is easily available and can help but may not be an option for everyone. Consult with a specialist for the full story.
What Natural Therapies Are Good For Menopause Symptoms
Apple cider vinegar, black cohosh, flax seeds, soy, vitamin E, exercising, yoga and meditation are some of the natural treatments used by many women to lessen some menopausal symptoms.
A good diet low in sugar and inflammatory foods and high in vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy oils and good protein sources is essential. Regular exercise and plenty of sleep will also go a long way to improving symptoms overall.