Hormones are the body’s great multi-taskers, affecting far more than just reproduction. During menopause, hormone levels fluctuate and then decline, creating symptoms you might not expect. This list of 28 symptoms will help you avoid surprises. And our menopause symptoms checklist can help you compile a list of signs to discuss with your doctor.
Your skin may react to hormone changes by producing pimples1 (just like in high school). Use gentle soaps and lotions to promote hydration and reduce irritation.
Anxiety includes unnecessary worrying, obsessing, or feeling on edge. If you notice an upswing in these feelings, it could be a sign of menopause.
After your mid-30s, your body starts to lose its ability to replenish bone minerals. Menopause accelerates bone loss, which can result in osteopenia or osteoporosis. Diet and exercise in menopause are your best defense.
Just as it can be a sign of menstruation or pregnancy, tenderness in one or both breasts can be a sign of menopause. Make sure you stay on top of breast checks and talk with your doctor about any concerns.
Risk of heart disease and stroke increases during and after menopause. It’s important to talk to your doctor to understand your heart health and how you can improve it.
You may start to feel ‘brain fog’ and have trouble focusing. The good news is there’s no evidence to suggest this confused feeling is permanent. Hear how wellness blogger Kate took back control.
It’s not clear whether menopause itself can cause depression, or whether depression is a result of symptoms such as sleeplessness and mood swings. Either way, it’s important to look after your mental health just like you do your physical health.
With perimenopause can come digestive problems such as bloating and diarrhoea, similar to those felt by many women during their menstrual period. These will usually decrease as hormones find their new balance.
Dizziness, vertigo and feeling lightheaded are common menopause symptoms. This can coincide with feeling foggy or overwhelmed by emotions.
When your life is full and busy, menopause can come along and zap your energy. Diet, exercise and medication can help put pep back in your step.
Many women in mid-life report thinning of scalp and pubic hair, while hair sprouts in other regions such as the face. Include this in your talk with your doctor as there is much that can be done.
Many women feel an increase in the frequency and severity of headaches during menopause, or develop migraines.9 With treatment options available, there is no need to power through alone.
Lower estrogen levels can tinker with your brain’s thermostat, resulting in the dreaded hot flush. Research shows that stress, alcohol and even certain foods can also have an impact. Learn about what triggers hot flushes.
Even if your sex drive remains stable, with all the physical and emotional changes that come with menopause you might feel like pulling away. Celestina wrote a letter to her husband about her menopause experience to help regain closeness.
There’s a simple explanation for forgetting why you walked into a room. Estrogen stimulates the memory centres of the brain, so its depletion can make it harder for you to retrieve information. Talk with your doctor as certain foods and medications can give your brain a boost.
With hormones fluctuating wildly, it’s no surprise that women in menopause find their moods are not their own. If you feel like your mood is affecting you or those around you, mention this in your chat with your doctor.
Many women in perimenopause and menopause wake up drenched in sweat. Be sure to stay hydrated and speak to your doctor if this becomes an issue for you.
People feel ‘flight or fight’ in different ways. You may become breathless or start breathing too rapidly. Your heart may start to race. You might want to scream or curl into a ball. Mention any of these feelings, if they occur, to your doctor.
During perimenopause, your periods will become lighter and less regular before stopping completely (although it won’t always be so linear). Use an app or notebook to track your cycle and report changes to your doctor.
With the hormones that steer your sex drive dropping during menopause, it’s normal for your desire to go downhill. Remember that fatigue, mood disorders, and vaginal symptoms can also contribute to sex being less appealing.
Estrogen helps skin hold water so as estrogen levels drop, your skin can become dry and itchy. Gentle lotions and menopause hormone therapy (MHT) can ease discomfort.
The hot flushes, night sweats, and cognitive changes experienced in menopause can lead to disturbed sleep. Develop good sleep habits such as going to bed at the same time and reducing screen time at night. Be sure to mention how you are sleeping when you visit your doctor.
For some women, it can feel like ants are crawling over their skin. Issues related to skin, including wrinkling, irritation and thinning, are likely to be a result of changing hormones in menopause.
This is the feeling of burning your tongue on scolding tea (but without the tea). This is caused by hormone imbalance and is felt by women seven times more frequently than by men.
Falling estrogen levels cause the urethra (the tube leading out of the bladder) to thin, making it harder for women to control when they pee. Treatment options include physical therapy to strengthen the pelvic floor.
Low estrogen causes the vagina to lose its natural lubrication, sometimes making sex painful. Using lubricants and avoiding soaps can ease symptoms, and menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can also offer relief.
Not helping matters, changing hormone levels can lead to an imbalance of the pH (acidity) of the vagina. This can cause fungus or bacteria to grow. Such infections can be easily treated so act early to save discomfort.
Download our menopause symptom checklist to help you and your doctor to take control of menopause.