Menopause is a major stage in a woman’s life during which her period stops. It usually occurs around the age of 45-55 years. During this phase, a woman goes through profound physical and emotional changes that may cause a great deal of distress or discomfort.
When you think about menopause symptoms, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes come to your mind because they are most common. But menopause symptoms are far more complex, and they are oddly specific in number – 34 typical symptoms in total. A woman going through menopause may experience some or all of them, ranging from mild to severe.
Read on to learn more about these 34 menopause symptoms and how they affect a woman’s health and well-being.
- Irregular periods
Menopause is characterised by no longer having periods. The disruption to your menstrual cycle is one of the first signs of menopause. This usually begins four years before your last period.
- Night sweats
Hot flashes occur at night as night sweats. They can cause a major disruption to your sleep schedule. Scientists believe that falling oestrogen levels can affect the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature.
- Hot flashes
Hot flashes are the most common symptoms of menopause. 75% of perimenopausal women experience hot flashes, which can last for five years. During a hot flash, you appear flushed, hot, and sweaty, especially in the face, neck, and chest.
- Breast soreness
Breast tenderness or soreness is a result of fluctuating oestrogen levels. The frequency can decrease in the later stages.
- Mood changes
78% of menopausal women experience mood swings. The changes in mood are because of the fluctuating oestrogen level in the body that affects the levels of other neurohormones responsible for mood regulation.
- Vaginal dryness
The low levels of oestrogen during menopause reduce the blood supply to the vagina. This makes the vagina dry, leading to atrophy. Vaginal dryness can also make intercourse painful.
- Loss of libido
Decreasing levels of sex hormones like progesterone, testosterone and oestrogen in women may make them less interested in sex. This can affect their intimate relationships.
A dip in the oestrogen level can trigger menstrual headaches, which can do the same during menopause. If you’ve suffered from headaches during periods, it’s likely that you’ll experience them during menopause too.
- Burning mouth
A burning mouth typically manifests as a feeling of tingling, numbing, tenderness, burning in and around the mouth, causing pain and discomfort.
- Tingling extremities
The tingling sensation can be in the hand, feet, legs and arms. This is because the fluctuations in hormone levels affect the central nervous system. However, these tingling sensation lasts typically for a few minutes at a time.
- Gum Problems
The declining oestrogen levels put menopausal women at risk of bone loss, causing gum recession, gum bleeding and gingivitis.
Menopausal women experience bloating due to gassiness, water retention or slow digestion of food. Any change in eating habits at this time can also cause bloating.
This symptom of menopause is due to low quality of sleep that is usually a result of hot flashes and night sweats or hormonal fluctuations themselves.
- Other digestive changes
During menopause, the women’s gut flora changes in composition. There are noticeable changes in digestion in response to certain foods.
- Muscle tension and aches
Some menopausal women may experience muscle tightness or strain. This may relate to lower oestrogen levels since oestrogen regulates muscle cell energy.
- Joint pain
Studies show that some menopausal women experience joint pain known as “menopausal arthritis.” This type of arthritis causes swelling, especially in the fingers and wrists and affects women at the onset of menopause.
- Electric shock sensations
During menopause and perimenopause, women can experience sudden, unpredictable sensations that resemble electric shocks. This could be a result of neurons misfiring in response to decreased levels of oestrogen in the body.
- Sleep disturbance
Women may have disturbed sleep due to many reasons during menopause. They may often wake up at night or find it difficult to get to sleep because of night sweats.
Oestrogen is related to skin hydration and collagen production. A drop in this hormone can cause dry skin, leading to increased itchiness.
- Difficulty concentrating
Low levels of oestrogen can cause mental fogginess, leading to difficulty in concentrating. Night sweats or hot flashes can also contribute.
- Thinning hair
Oestrogen and progesterone play a role in the healthy growth of our hair. When their levels drop, it affects the growth of androgen, causing the hair follicles to shrink, leading to thinning of hair.
- Memory lapses
Hormonal changes during menopause can make women forgetful. This could be a result of low oestrogen level or lack of sleep.
- Brittle nails
During menopause, the body may not produce enough keratin needed to keep the nails strong. As a result, nails may become weak, making them brittle or break easily.
- Hayfever & Allergies
Sleep issues experienced during menopause can put stress on the immune system, making it release histamines. This makes women more prone to allergic reactions and heightened allergies.
- Stress incontinence
Childbirth, ageing and decreased muscle mass weaken the pelvic muscles. As a result, women in their menopause can experience urine leakage when they sneeze, laugh, lift or cough.
- Weight gain
A drop in oestrogen level during menopause can slow women’s metabolism. There may be increased belly fat during this time.
Read more to find out why women gain weight around menopause.
- Dizzy spells
There could be episodes of unexplained dizziness and/or vertigo during menopause. This could be due to low oestrogen levels, anxiety or hot flashes.
Women are at higher risk of bone loss due to a decline in oestrogen levels. In severe cases, this can lead to osteoporosis.
- Body odour
Hot flashes and night sweats experienced during menopause can lead to an increase in body odour.
- Irregular heartbeat
During menopause, some women may experience irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. This is a result of low oestrogen levels that overstimulate the nervous system.
Irritability is another of the 34 symptoms of menopause. This is due to imbalances in the oestrogen and progesterone levels.
Anxiety is a mood-related symptom that some women experience during menopause. This symptom may worsen at night or occur whenever there is fluctuation in the hormonal levels.
Hormonal imbalances may trigger depression during menopause. It is often situational and may not last for long. Stress and lack of sleep can contribute to depression.
- Panic disorder
Menopausal women are more susceptible to anxiety, which can lead to a panic attack.
Best Treatments for Managing Menopausal Symptoms
Not all women experience all 34 symptoms during menopause. There are several treatment methods to reduce the pain and discomfort of these symptoms. These include:
- Medical Treatments
Some of the most common medical treatments to treat symptoms of menopause include:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): HRT helps manage menopausal symptoms by replacing deficient hormone levels. The benefits of HRT are not limited to alleviating the symptoms of menopause; it also helps health issues such as heart disease and osteoporosis caused due to low hormone levels.
- Vaginal oestrogen: Vaginal oestrogen improves lubrication and prevents vaginal dryness.
- Antidepressants: These medicines are known to reduce mood-related symptoms and improve hot flashes.
- Natural Remedies
Several natural remedies may help you combat specific menopausal symptoms. These medicines include flax seeds, vitamin E, black cohosh, and soy.
- Lifestyle Changes
Some of the self-care practices you can implement to alleviate the menopause symptoms include:
- Avoid spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine
- Quit smoking
- Dress in layers, so it’s easy to cool down in case of a hot flash
- Carry cleansing wipes to freshen up while on the go
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce stress by learning relaxation techniques like Yoga and breathing exercises
There we have it — the 34 classic menopausal symptoms and the best treatment methods to manage these symptoms. For most women, menopause is a challenging journey. To help your body along the way and give yourself the best possible chance of a smooth menopause journey, consult our health experts at MedsNow.