Headaches that feel like your head is about to explode? Sex drive is at an all-time low? Tossing and turning for hours each night? Feeling “bleh” all the time, for no apparent reason?
- Menopause presents itself in many forms, it important to know the symptoms so you know what to look out for
- Each symptom has its own manner of being dealt with through diet and lifestyle changes and supplementing ingredients that are prone to work
- These 34 symptoms range in category; from hormonal and immune health to cognitive function and metabolic syndrome, read on to learn them all!
Table of Contents
- Vasomotor Symptoms of Menopause
- Sleep Problems & Menopause
- Cognitive Issues & Menopause
- Psychological Problems of Menopause
- Migranes & Menopause
- Metabolic Symptoms of Menopause
- Cardiovascular Symptoms of Menopause
- Urinary & Genital Symptoms of Menopause
- Muscular Symptoms of Menopause
- Skin & Hair Health
- Immune Health & Menopause
- Hormonal Health & Menopause
Yes, menopause can do all of that – and more. Menopause is a challenging time in many women’s lives, with a host of symptoms that range from mildly irritating to extremely uncomfortable.
Research has identified that there are 34 typical symptoms of menopause. They all result from the gradual decline in the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Of course, each female body is unique, which means that every woman experiences menopause differently. You won’t notice the same changes as your friends. Your sister will have her own unique experience. But many symptoms are similar.
Menopause happens when you stop menstruating and are no longer able to get pregnant. If you don’t menstruate for 12 months (without spotting or even light bleeding), this means you’ve entered menopause.
Let’s now look into the 34 symptoms of menopause.
Vasomotor Symptoms of Menopause
Vasomotor symptoms, or VMS, are, simply put, symptoms related to how blood vessels dilate or constrict. Dilated blood vessels result in changes in body temperature, such as hot flashes and sweating. (1) These symptoms are one of the hallmarks of menopause: 75% of menopausal women experience them.
1. Hot flashes:
Sudden estrogen drops, which are typical for menopause, result in constricted blood vessels and increased body temperature. Hot flashes, and hot flushes, may feel like a burning or hot sensation on your face, neck, head, or chest. You might also experience skin redness, if your hot flashes are severe.
2. Night sweats:
When hot flashes happen at night, you might wake up drenched in sweat. You’re not alone in this: three in every four menopausal women suffer from night sweats. Hot flashes and night sweats may also result in restlessness, poor sleep quality, which can leave you feeling tired, and irritated the next day. (2,3)
What’s the best supplement for Hot flashes and Night Sweats?
In a 2010 study, 26% benefited from a reduction in night sweats thanks to the thermoregulatory effects of Black Cohosh.
Between 40 to 60% of menopausal women experience sleep-related problems, such as insomnia, inability to sleep for a long time, and poor sleep quality.
3. Nocturnal awakenings:
Night sweats and hot flashes might wake you up at night, and leave you feeling restless and tired.
Headaches, anxiety, or excessive sweating due to hot flashes may lead to insomnia – especially if your hot flashes are severe.
Feeling fatigued, tiredness, and restlessness is a common occurrence for most women who go through menopause. (4,5,6)
What’s the best supplement for sleep issed?
Sleep issues tend to occur due to high cortisol and then the added anxiety of not being able to sleep (what a cycle!). Ashwagandha has proven to help alleviate stress while lowering cortisol.
Menopause also affects the way you think: memory lapses, difficulties retaining new information, or brain fog are all common symptoms of menopause and premature menopause. Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy!
6. Brain fog and difficulty concentrating:
The estrogen swings that come with menopause can lead to changes in how your brain functions – which means that you might have trouble focusing and retaining information, a feeling that many describe as “brain fog”. Insomnia and poor sleep quality clearly don’t help either. Don’t try to compensate that with extreme amounts of coffee, though – this will further exacerbate the problem.
7. Memory lapses:
Do you find yourself forgetting numbers or important dates? Are you losing your keys or glasses? Forgot the name of your friend’s son? That’s another symptom of menopause. The good news? Memory tends to improve after the most drastic hormonal changes are over. (7,8)
What’s the best supplement for cognition?
Adaptogens like Ashwagandha help give your body the nutrients it needs to properly function, including keeping you alert and focused throughout the day.
Depending on the frequency and intensity of the symptoms of menopause you’re experiencing, these symptoms might have a profound impact on your emotional well-being and psychological balance. Depression, panic attacks and anxiety might leave you feeling drained and listless. Speak to your GP or a psychologist if you notice those symptoms. Mood swings and irritability are also a common occurrence.
Women during menopause are more vulnerable to experiencing a depressive episode. Feeling blue with no apparent reason, having trouble sleeping (or sleeping much more than usual), experiencing major changes in appetite, and losing interest in the things you love might all point toward depression.
If you already had high anxiety levels, menopause might make that worse. And if you’re usually very zen about life, you might notice that stress and anxiety are creeping in.
10. Panic attacks:
Premenopausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal women go through many physical and psychological changes, such as weight gain, pains, depression, insomnia, hair loss, and aging skin. All these things might make you prone to experiencing panic disorders, even if you never had any.
11. Irritability/Mood swings:
If you’re easily getting irritated or angry at others or at yourself for little things, menopause might be to blame. Mood changes are also common, and they’re associated with all the hormonal changes you’re going through. Insomnia and the resulting fatigue can make this even more challenging.
Dizziness is caused by hormonal changes and lack of sleep. To help combat dizziness, make sure you’re staying well-hydrated. (9,10,11,12)
13. Headaches and Migraines:
Migraines affect between 10 to 29% of menopausal women. Headaches due to menopause might feel somewhat different from the usual headaches you were getting before. They might be concentrated in certain areas, and last from a few minutes to days. Their intensity and frequency vary from woman to woman. (13)
Weight and Metabolic Symptoms
Weight gain is common during menopause, but you shouldn’t despair. Eating healthy, staying physically active, and keeping an eye on your weight should help you keep weight gain under control.
14. Weight gain:
According to studies, menopausal women in their 40s and 50s gain somewhere around 2.1kg weight over a period of three years. Menopause also changes the body’s fat distribution. You might notice that fat accumulates easier in the waist or lower belly area. Exercise helps with that – especially if you incorporate some sort of weight training into your routine.
15. Digestive problems:
We all know how uncomfortable it is to feel bloated all the time! Hormonal, metabolic, and physical changes during perimenopause and menopause might provoke digestive issues such as nausea, indigestion, and bloating. Probiotics will help you get that under control. If you’re not crazy about fermented foods (and even if you are!), probiotic supplements can greatly help relieve feelings of bloating and discomfort. (14)
The weight gain associated with menopause might have an effect on heart health. High cholesterol levels and fat around your heart might lead to cardiovascular symptoms or even disease. Again, exercise and a balanced diet are key to keeping this in check.
16. Rapid or irregular heart rate:
An irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia, and heart palpitations is caused by the decline in estrogen levels in the body. (15)
Urinary and Genital Symptoms
No two vaginas are the same; therefore, there is no gold standard for perfect vaginas. However, vaginal health is essential. So, what does a healthy vagina look and feel like? Some discharge is normal, but your vagina shouldn’t hurt, or look swollen and inflamed, or feel irritated. Menopause can provoke itching and dryness, however, and this is normal to an extent.
17. Vaginal dryness and itching:
Vaginal dryness is the root cause of about 83% of all women’s vaginal discomfort. Hormone changes and falling estrogen levels make your vaginal walls lose elasticity and moisture. They can also become thinner. So, how can you increase vaginal moisture? Drink more water, take probiotics for vaginal health, avoid douching, and use a small amount of unscented soap.
Low estrogen levels interfere with moisture retention in your body and skin. This also hinders the production of natural skin oils and collagen, which keeps your skin elastic. Declining estrogen levels can make your vagina’s skin dry, thin, and itchy.
19. Urinary incontinence (leakage of urine):
As women age (40-55) and approach menopause, their pelvic muscles tend to become weaker. Because of this, you might experience the occasional leak of urine while laughing, coughing, lifting, or sneezing. Which feels super uncomfortable, we know. Weak pelvic muscles and hormonal changes make it harder to control your bladder muscles. Kegel exercises might help with that. (16,17)
20. Decreased libido:
If you’re feeling less and less often in the mood for sex, that’s another one of the unfortunate symptoms of menopause. Decreased libido is mainly due to the fluctuations in hormone levels. Aging, vaginal dryness, and mood swings also contribute to this.
21. Joint pain:
Estrogen is responsible for joint health, too. Low estrogen levels might result in inflamed joints and loss of joint fluid. If your joints are feeling painful and swollen, this might be due to menopause.
Low estrogen levels, weight gain, increased oxidative stress and other factors lead to loss of muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia. Weight training is a great way to combat this.
23. Osteoporosis and bone density issues:
Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones lose mass and cannot absorb shocks as well as before. Out of all the 34 symptoms of menopause, osteoporosis can easily be considered the most dangerous one. Loss of bone mass and strength might lead to wrist, hip, and spine fractures.
24. Muscle tension:
If you’re feeling tension or pain in your muscles, this is also a common menopause symptom. Fluctuating hormone levels stimulate the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Increased cortisol levels lead to inflammation and muscular pains.
25. Tingling sensations:
Feelings of numbness or tingling in your hands, feet, legs, or arms is one of the less common symptoms of menopause. Tingling sensations may be caused by the reducing level of estrogen and its effect on the central nervous system. (19,20)
Skin and Hair Changes
26. Reduced skin elasticity and thickness:
Oh no, more wrinkles! Loss of skin moisture, decreased production of natural body oils and collagen are one of the side effects associated with the hormonal fluctuations that you experience during menopause. As a result, you’ll probably notice that your skin is less elastic and becomes thinner with time.
27. Hair loss:
Hair loss is a difficult topic for many women, and it can happen during menopause. Increased androgen levels and decreased estrogen levels can cause hair loss. You might also notice some unusual growth of facial hair.
28. Brittle nails:
Are your nails unusually brittle. Yes, decreasing estrogen levels are responsible for that as well. The hormonal fluctuations you’re going through diminish the production of keratin, a nail-strengthening protein. (21)
29. Burning mouth syndrome:
As the name suggests, you might sometimes feel a burning sensation in your mouth or on your tongue. Again, you’re not going crazy – and you’re also not alone. In fact, 40% of menopausal women suffer from this, and it is a condition caused by mouth dryness. Estrogen levels control the production of saliva, as well.
30. Gum problems:
Are your gums feeling tender and inflamed? Yep, low estrogen is the reason (again).
Fluctuating hormones, combined with an increased immune sensitivity might cause you to develop allergies. Allergies come with symptoms like rash, redness, itching, inflammation, nasal congestion, etc. Try to identify the allergen and remove it from your environment.
32. Irregular periods:
Menopause doesn’t occur overnight. It’s a slow process that lasts a few years, during which your periods will start to go haywire. Sometimes you might bleed more than before. Or less. You might experience spotting, or have no period at all for a month or two, and then get it again. Irregular periods happen because your reproductive hormones are constantly fluctuating. (22)
33. Breast tenderness:
Sounds familiar? Yes, breast soreness or tenderness is a common PMS. Similarly, it’s also common during menopause. Hormonal changes are to blame.
34. Electric shocks:
That’s probably a symptom you didn’t expect – and it’s rather rare. Electric shocks happen because hormonal imbalances can also affect your nerves. For women who experience them, electric shocks can happen before hot flashes.
Muka, T. et al. Association of age at onset of menopause and time since onset of menopause with cardiovascular outcomes, intermediate vascular traits, and all-cause mortality. JAMA Cardiol. 1, 767–776 (2016).