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What are the 34 symptoms of menopause?

21st October 2019

The 34 symptoms of menopause

Most women will go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. This gradual process occurs when hormone levels begin to fluctuate causing the menstrual cycle to become irregular and eventually stop. There are 34 key symptoms that can occur as part of the menopause process.

You may experience a strong emotional response at this time of hormonal change and you may also notice some unexpected physical symptoms, too. Women who experience troublesome symptoms may like to try hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications to make navigating this stage of life easier.

Disruption to Temperature Regulation

1. Hot flushes

Hot flushes are one of the better known symptoms of menopause, affecting around 75% of menopausal women. A hot flush can make you feel like you are overheating and extremely sweaty. It may also cause visible redness on the skin of the chest, neck or face. Hot flushes can feel quite uncomfortable and some women feel embarrassed when they occur.

Menopause hot flushes

2. Night sweats

A night sweat is a hot flush that occurs during the night. For some women, they can be so extreme that they wake up with the bedsheets drenched in sweat. Night sweats can be a particularly unpleasant symptom as they disturb sleep, meaning that you may feel unrefreshed in the morning.

3. Body odour

Some women notice that their body odour changes when they are menopausal. The hormonal fluctuations can change your natural scent and the increase in hot flushes and night sweats may make you feel even more self-conscious. If body odour is upsetting you, topical treatments can be applied to reduce the activity of the sweat glands, helping to minimise any odours. 

Gynaecological and Urological Changes

4. Irregular periods

Menopause is the time when your periods cease due to a fall in hormone production. It marks the end of your reproductive years. Most women find that their menstrual cycles become increasingly irregular until they stop completely.

Menopause irregular periods

5. Vaginal dryness

One of the female hormones, oestrogen, is in charge of the natural lubrication of your vagina. When oestrogen levels fall as part of menopause, you may notice that your vagina feels more dry than usual. Some women are unphased by this, but for others it can be uncomfortable, particularly when having sex. Vaginal dryness can be overcome by using lubricants or specific vaginal creams.

6. Breast soreness

If you have previously experienced sore breasts just before your period or when pregnant, this symptom may not be entirely unfamiliar. Breast soreness is a common sign of a change in hormonal levels and, therefore, often occurs around the time of menopause.

7. Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence refers to urinary incontinence that occurs when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or straining. Some women first notice this after childbirth when the pelvic floor has been weakened, but for others it does not occur until later in life. It is uncertain whether stress incontinence occurs as part of the menopause or if the timing is coincidental and the muscle weakness represents part of the natural aging process. 

If you are concerned, speak to your doctor who may refer you for specialist physiotherapy. If stress incontinence is affecting your quality of life or confidence, wearing a protective pad or underwear may be helpful.

8. Decreased libido

When oestrogen levels fall as part of menopause, your sex drive can appear to vanish. If you find this frustrating or upsetting, try to communicate with your partner so that you can make time for physical or sexual intimacy.

Mental Health Upset

9. Mood swings

The mood swings of menopause may take you by surprise. You might find you ricochet around a variety of emotions each day without really knowing why. Again, the fluctuation in hormone levels is likely to be responsible for this.

Menopause mood swings

10. Anxiety

Up to one third of women may notice that they feel more anxious or nervous than usual during the menopausal period. Taking herbal supplements such as Passion Flower, may help you to manage any stress so that you feel calmer.

11. Irritability

It is normal to feel irritable, frustrated, or angry during the menopause. Without your steadier state of hormones, your mood is less well-regulated. Mindfulness exercises, meditation, or another form of self-care may help you to manage how you feel.

12. Depression

Depression has unfortunately been linked with menopause. Not every woman will experience a very low mood at this time, but if you do, you may wish to speak to your GP for further advice and support to feel more like your usual self.

13. Panic disorder

Women who are going through menopause may experience panic attacks. Panic attacks will not cause you harm, but they can be very frightening and unpleasant when they occur. Taking a relaxing herbal supplement may help to keep anxiety and feelings of panic under control.

Cognitive and Neurological Symptoms

14. Memory lapses

You may notice problems with your memory as your hormone levels fluctuate. This change is usually only temporary, but it can be frustrating and unsettling while it lasts. Practising brain training exercises such as Sudoku, may be helpful for improving your memory.

15. Difficulty concentrating

Before menopause, oestrogen levels regulate the use of sugar within the brain. With falling oestrogen levels, sugar regulation can be disrupted, meaning that you may not feel that your brain is firing on all cylinders. This may make it feel harder to focus or concentrate.

16. Dizzy spells

The fall in oestrogen is also thought to be responsible for dizziness. Some women may also experience vertigo (the sensation that the room is spinning), which can cause them to feel less steady on their feet. This may lead to a reduction in confidence in physical ability, even in women who have previously been physically fit.

17. Headaches

The bad news is that if you often got headaches at a certain time in your menstrual cycle, then you are probably at higher risk of headaches during the menopause. Topical treatments such as 4head cutaneous stick and Kool’n’Soothe gel sheets can ease away headaches associated with hormonal changes. If headaches persist, then you should speak to your doctor.

18. Disrupted sleep

The hormonal changes of the menopause may lead to disrupted sleep including difficulty falling asleep (insomnia), or frequent night-time wakening. Night sweats may also affect the quality of sleep you get. Taking a sleeping supplement or tablet may help you to get a better night’s sleep.

19. Fatigue

Many women feel extremely tired during menopause. This extreme weariness can occur even if you seem to be sleeping well.

Mouth Problems

20. Burning mouth

Some women complain of the sensation of a hot or burning mouth. This may be due to reduced saliva production during menopause. The sensation of heat can extend into the tongue, lips, cheeks and the roof of the mouth, too. You may find it helpful to keep a cool drink nearby, or to enjoy an ice lolly or suck on an ice cube to keep your mouth moist.

21. Taste disturbance

Up to 40% of women complain of a metallic taste in their mouth, or problems with their gums during menopause. If gum problems persist, you should speak to your dentist or doctor.

Joints and Muscle Changes

22. Joint pain

Menopause is a common time to experience musculoskeletal symptoms. In some cases, this may signify the start of arthritis which could be related to age, weight, or another factor, rather than due to menopause itself. Joint pain relief gels and creams can be applied to help soothe the soreness of your muscles.

23. Muscle tension

If you can feel that your muscles are tight, achy or tense, this might be because you are feeling anxious or stressed. When we are stressed, we tend to tense our muscles and over time, this can become quite uncomfortable. Try to be aware of your body and practice relaxing whenever you feel yourself becoming tense. Relaxing warm baths and massages can both help to ease any muscle tension that does form, as well as applying topical gel or creams to the affected area.

Menopause muscle tension

24. Osteoporosis

After menopause, many women are at risk of reduced bone density or osteoporosis. Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone damage and fractures. Maintaining a healthy, calcium rich diet, or taking a supplement that specifically supports bone health, can help to protect your bones from becoming weakened. 

Skin, Hair, and Nail Complaints

25. Itchy skin

When oestrogen reduces, collagen levels in the skin also fall. Collagen is a building block within the skin that gives it its plump, taut appearance. Collagen also regulates the amount of water contained within skin cells, helping to keep them well-hydrated. As collagen levels reduce, skin becomes thinner and feels dry, which can make it more itchy than usual. Twice daily application of an intensive body moisturiser can help to nourish the skin cells to reduce itchiness.

26. Hair loss

Whereas pregnant women may notice increased hair growth, hair loss during menopause can leave your hair feeling and looking thinner. Using a caffeine based shampoo may help to combat hair loss and protect against dandruff. There are also various vitamins and supplements that can be taken to help promote healthy hair growth.

27. Brittle nails

If you’ve noticed that your nails break more easily or that they feel thin or brittle, this is likely due to falling oestrogen levels.

Sensory Changes

28. Electric shocks

Oestrogen works within the central nervous system to support the normal transport of messages along nerves. When oestrogen falls, the messages can become amplified, which may lead to the feeling of an electric shock. Some women find that they are more likely to notice this just before a hot flush.

29. Tingling extremities

Similar to electric shocks, the falling oestrogen levels can cause distortion, fluctuation or mixing of the messages along the nerve cells. This can lead to a change in sensation such as tingling in the extremities.

Gastrointestinal Disturbances

30. Weight gain

Just as some women notice weight gain when taking the contraceptive pill, the change in hormones as part of menopause can also cause weight gain. You may be able to manage this by eating sensibly and aiming for regular physical activity. However, it can be very hard to lose weight and if you struggle, you may find it helpful to access weight loss medications to give you a helping hand as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

31. Bloating

Feeling more bloated than usual could be one of the first signs that you are entering the peri-menopausal period. However, if bloating is a new symptom and you do not think menopause is likely, speak to your GP to rule out other causes.

32. Digestive changes

You may be familiar with your digestive system being sensitive to stress, certain foods or medications. Some women find that they are more likely to experience a change in bowel habits when they have their period. It is, therefore, not surprising that your digestive system may also be sensitive to the hormonal changes of menopause. Diarrhoea, bloating, constipation, cramping and indigestion can all occur at this time in a woman’s life. However, persistent changes in digestion or bowel habit should be discussed with your GP. Herbal remedies and 

Other Menopause Symptoms

33. Allergies

Despite never having any allergies before, some women find that they become intolerant to certain foods, medications, or other allergens such as pollen or dust when they reach menopause. Your hormonal and immune systems are linked and this may be the cause of any newly experienced allergies. Taking an antihistamine medication may help you to manage mild allergic symptoms.

34. Irregular heartbeat

Your circulatory system and nervous system may be affected by the fall in oestrogen. In some women, this can lead to palpitations (feeling your heart pounding) or an irregular heartbeat.

Menopause symptoms

The thought of experiencing 34 menopause symptoms can be daunting. However, you may only have a handful of symptoms and some may not cause too much bother to you as an individual. However, if you are struggling with the symptoms of hormonal changes, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an effective treatment to help you manage the menopausal period.