34 Menopause Symptoms
Many women experience some physical and emotional symptoms during menopause, caused by hormonal imbalance. Typically, a woman will begin to experience menopause symptoms around her mid-40’s as her body’s reproductive capability comes to the end.
This prolonged stage of gradually falling and fluctuating hormone levels is called perimenopause, which can last upwards of two years before a woman’s final period. For most women, perimenopause symptoms end at menopause; however, some symptoms will continue.
34-menopause-symptoms.com has been designed to guide women through the menopausal transition with knowledge, ease, and peace of mind. It contains helpful information about menopause treatments and practical suggestions for relieving menopause symptoms.
Women can look here for expert advice on any of the 34 menopause symptoms, whether it be hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, or any other
Hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, are a sudden, transient sensation of warmth or heat that spreads over the body, creating a flushing, or redness, that is particularly noticeable on the face and upper body. The experience of hot flashes can range between delicate flushes and a sensation of engulfing flames.
Hot flashes result from the body’s reaction to a decreased supply of the hormone estrogen, which occurs naturally as women approach menopause. Not all women experience hot flashes, but more than half do. For some women, estrogen production decreases gradually, producing fewer hot flashes. But for others, the ovaries stop estrogen production more abruptly; for these women, hot flashes can be a rollercoaster ride. About 75 to 85% of American women are estimated to experience hot flashes during menopause.
4 Foods to Control Your Body Heat
Instead of falling prey to unpleasant hot flash symptoms, try making some dietary changes. When you know what foods to eat – and why – it makes you more able to defend yourself against the flames. Find out which fruits, veggies, and legumes are best to beat the heat.
Night sweats are classified as severe hot flashes that occur during sleep accompanied by intense bouts of sweating. Also known as “sleep hyperhidrosis”, night sweats aren’t actually a sleep disorder, but a common perspiration disorder that occurs during sleep in menopausal women. These episodes of nighttime sweating can range in severity from mild to intense, and can be caused by hormonal imbalance combined with environmental factors, such as an excessively warm sleeping environment.
For many women, the experience of night sweats is so severe that it disrupts sleep, and it may increase irritability and stress in a woman’s waking life. Night sweats can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, so it is important to get to the root of the issue before seeking treatment options.
Night sweating during menopause is not just due to hormones. Much of the time, environmental, dietary, and other lifestyle factors trigger this unpleasant symptom. It’s important to scrutinize and adjust your lifestyle if night sweating episodes are affecting your ability to sleep peacefully and causing tiredness during the day.
Most women will experience absent, short, or irregular periods at some point in their lives. A wide range of conditions can cause irregular periods, though during perimenopause the most common cause is hormonal imbalance. Periods may come earlier or later than before; bleeding may be lighter or heavier than usual; and periods may be brief or go on for what feels like an eternity. Skipping periods and “spotting” – bleeding between periods – are also common symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Menstrual irregularity is most common in a woman in her mid-40’s as she approaches menopause; the most likely cause of this is hormonal imbalance caused by decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone. Irregular periods could also be caused by other medical conditions or even pregnancy.
Irregular periods are frustrating symptom that occurs mainly due to hormonal changes in the body during menopause. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of diet in addressing the symptom, however. Increasing your intake of certain vitamins could prevent irregular periods becoming an issue during menopause.
Loss of Libido
Everyone experiences peaks and valleys in sexual desire, an ebb and flow in libido that could be caused by any of a variety of factors. However, for women going through menopause, this sudden drop in desire for sexual activity or intimacy can be troubling. In menopausal women, the main cause of low sex drive is hormonal imbalance, predominantly androgen deficiency. Loss of libido can also be caused by other menopause symptoms themselves, such as vaginal dryness or depression, or by prescription drugs, including medication prescribed to treat menopause symptoms.
It is important not to confuse sexual desire with sexual function. This article will deal with the loss of libido, or the hormonal and emotional reasons behind low sex drive in menopausal women.
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Vaginal dryness occurs when the usually moist and soft feeling of the lining of the vagina disappears, bringing about symptoms such as itchiness and irritation. When estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, the vaginal tissue becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic. Lack of lubrication leads to sex becoming uncomfortable, and the vagina is frequently itchy, easily irritated, and more prone to infections.
An extreme version of vaginal dryness is atrophy of the vagina, where it becomes smaller in width and length. This symptom may appear due to a sudden drop in estrogen during menopause, be it natural, premature, or surgical. Vaginal dryness can be one of the most emotionally distressing menopause symptoms, and it is important to seek treatment for this condition if it begins to affect quality of life.
Menopausal mood swings are surprisingly common, but can be hard to cope with. A woman experiencing mood swings may feel like she is on a rollercoaster of emotions: one minute she’s up, the next minute she’s down. Mood swings can be sudden and intense, although the experience of them may differ from woman to woman.
Chronic and severe mood swings are a psychological disorder, a health problem every bit as real as a physical ailment. They are caused primarily by hormonal imbalances; when production of the hormone estrogen drops, so too does the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, resulting in mood swings. Other menopause symptoms can also have a negative influence on mood, such as fatigue. Therefore, targeting the underlying hormonal imbalance is one of the most effective ways of reducing menopausal mood swings.
Fatigue, one of the most common menopause symptoms, is defined as an ongoing and persistent feeling of weakness, tiredness, and lowered energy levels, rather than just sleepiness or drowsiness. Other characteristics of fatigue may include apathy, irritability, and decreased attention span. Crashing fatigue is a phenomenon which comes on suddenly, leaving a woman devoid of energy and unable to continue her activity.
Fatigue in menopause is caused by hormonal changes; hormones such as estrogen regulate energy use at a cellular level, so when hormone levels drops during menopause, so too do energy levels. Chronic fatigue in menopause can have a drastic impact on daily life, putting a strain on relationships, work productivity, and quality of life, so treating the underlying hormonal imbalance is essential to restore energy levels.
Hair Loss or Thinning
Hair loss, one of the most physically noticeable menopause symptoms, is caused by estrogen deficiency, because hair follicles need estrogen to sustain hair growth. Hair loss may be sudden or gradual, or manifest as thinning hair on the head or other parts of the body, including the pubic area. Hair may also become drier and more brittle, and may fall out more while brushing or in the shower.
Gradual hair loss or thinning of hair without any accompanying symptoms is common; however, for many women this symptom is upsetting, as it is a visible sign of aging. There are ways to treat the underlying hormonal imbalance in order to halt hair loss during menopause. However, hair loss that is accompanied by general poor health requires the attention of a doctor.
Waking many times during the night, tossing and turning, and insomnia, are all sleep disorders connected with menopause. Women going through menopause may find that their sleep is less restful and that getting to sleep becomes increasingly difficult. Research indicates that women begin to experience restless sleep as many as five to seven years before entering menopause.
In the past, doctors believed that interrupted sleep was a consequence of night sweats, but recent studies indicate that problems with sleep are not always necessarily connected to other menopause symptoms. Sleep disorders are a symptom of menopause in their own right, but it is important for a woman to distinguish if her unique sleep disorder is actually caused by hormonal imbalance, or if there is another factor behind it.
In the lead-up to menopause, many women are concerned to find they have trouble remembering things, experience mental blocks, or have difficulty concentrating. This can be confusing or worrying for women, and can have a big impact on all aspects of daily life. The main reason why these symptoms occur during menopause is hormonal imbalance, specifically estrogen deficiency. However, not getting enough sleep or sleep disruptions can also contribute to memory problems and cause difficulty concentrating, as well as the nagging pain of other physiological menopause symptoms.
After underlying medical conditions have been ruled out as a cause of disorientation, confusion, or lack of concentration, then it is important to check hormone levels. Targeting and treating the underlying hormonal imbalance will help a woman overcome difficulty concentrating.
Women approaching menopause often complain of memory loss, memory lapses, and an inability to concentrate. Misplaced car keys, skipped appointments, forgotten birthdays, and missed trains of thought might seem like trivial occurrences, but these can be extremely distressing for women who have never missed a beat before. However, these memory lapses are a normal symptom of menopause, associated with low levels of estrogen and with high stress levels.
Memory loss affects most people in one way or another, and more often than not, it is only a momentary memory lapse; however, when memory lapses begin to become a regular occurrence, it is wise to seek medical advice to treat the causes, like hormonal imbalance, stress, or other more serious conditions.
Dizziness is a transient spinning sensation, which may be accompanied by a feeling of light headedness or unsteadiness, as well as the inability to maintain balance upon standing or while walking. Episodes can last for as little as a few seconds, but can leave a woman feeling out of sorts for an extended period of time, or may even lead to falls, which can impact her daily home and work life.
Dizziness is a symptom of many medical conditions; however, it is also a possible symptom of menopause, caused by fluctuations in hormonal levels such as estrogen. Women who experience unexplained dizzy spells should consult their doctor to distinguish between trivial problems, serious illnesses, and dizziness caused by hormonal imbalance.
Weight gain, specifically a thickening around the waist, is another sign of changing hormones levels during menopause. While some sources claim that menopause has nothing to do with weight gain, hormonal changes during menopause actually influence weight gain and redistribution of fat. For example, fewer circulating estrogen hormones lead the body to retain more fat cells as an alternative source of components of estrogen.
Also, low testosterone levels lead to a decreased metabolic rate, meaning that from menopause onwards women need fewer calories daily; therefore, women who continue to eat as before will gain weight by default. In this way, changes in diet and exercise are necessary to revitalize the body’s metabolic rate and prevent weight gain during menopause, as well as treatments to target the underlying hormonal imbalance.
Incontinence in menopausal women can be divided into three types. Stress incontinence is the accidental release of urine while laughing, coughing, sneezing, or due to over-exertion. This usually happens when the internal muscles fail to work effectively, because of age, surgery, or childbirth. With urge incontinence, the bladder develops a “mind of its own,” contracting and emptying whenever full despite an individual’s conscious efforts to resist. Overflow incontinence is the absence of the sensation of a full bladder, whereby accidental urination occurs because the individual doesn’t realize the bladder is full.
A woman’s personal experience of incontinence could include any combination of these. All of these types of incontinence can be worrying and embarrassing for menopausal women, but practical treatments are available for this common condition.
Bloating occurs in most women throughout their lives, due to digestive issues or as a part of PMS. This symptom is characterized by a swollen belly, a feeling of tightness, and discomfort or pain in the stomach area. Typically, this arises from intestinal gas caused by poor food transit; this is due to low levels of bile, which is caused by estrogen deficiency. One other cause of bloating could be lactose intolerance, or the body’s rejection of dairy foods. As people age, they produce less lactase – the enzyme needed to digest lactose.
Each woman’s experience of bloating is unique; however, bloating can be periodic, lasting for a few days at a time then subsiding, appearing after eating, or it can get progressively worse over the course of a day. Persistent, unexplained bloating or stomach pain for more than three days should be checked by a doctor.
Hormones and the immune system are inextricably linked, so hormonal changes during menopause can lead to an increase in allergies among menopausal women. Many women experience increased sensitivity to allergies, while others may suddenly become allergic to something that never bothered them before. This is particularly the case with hay fever, asthma, and dermatitis.
Allergies can be a frustrating menopause symptom, as they can impair daily life. Most women only experience “mild” symptoms such as rashes, sneezing, and itchy eyes, but in the case of extreme allergy symptoms such as swelling, dizziness, and cramping, it is important to seek urgent medical treatment. Mild symptoms could be avoided by making simple lifestyle changes, as well as by treating the underlying hormonal imbalance.
Nail appearance can tell a lot about a person’s general health and habits. There are a variety of nail changes that occur during menopause that could indicate an underlying problem, but the most common is brittle nails, or nails that are softer, or that crack, split, or break horizontally across the top of the nail. This can indicate a nutritional deficiency; however, in menopausal women brittle nails are usually due to hormonal imbalance. Low estrogen levels cause dehydration in the body, leading to dryness of the skin, hair, and nails.
Apart from brittle nails, other nail disorders common in menopause include convex or spoon-like nails, ridges in the nail plate, and infection of the nail bed and cuticle. Persistently painful or inflamed fingernails or toenails require the attention of a doctor.
Changes in Body Odor
Changes in body odor can make the menopausal women experiencing them very self-conscious. Menopausal hormonal changes cause an increase in sweat production, in response to physical menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, or psychological symptoms such as anxiety and panic disorder. This increase in sweat production can lead to increased body odor, even while maintaining a good personal hygiene regimen.
As well as the quantity of sweat produced, changes in body odor may also be due to genetic predisposition. Although changes in body odor are normal in menopausal women, they can still be bothersome. Treatments are available to tackle the root of the hormonal imbalance, while simple changes to lifestyle, such as choosing clothes with natural, breathable fabrics, may help reduce body odor.
Irregular heartbeat is one of the more concerning menopause symptoms. Bouts of pounding, rapid heartbeat scare many women because of their sudden onset and the difficulty in calming them. One of the causes of these symptoms during menopause is hormonal imbalance. Estrogen deficiency can over-stimulate the nervous and circulatory systems, causing irregular heartbeat and palpitations, as well as certain arrhythmias.
As with any heart condition, this symptom could signify something more serious, so it’s important for women experiencing it to report it to a doctor. Stress, anxiety, and panic disorder are all other causes of this symptom which should be explored before considering a treatment option. Other triggers of irregular heartbeat to be avoided include caffeine and nicotine.
Feelings of sadness can be normal, appropriate, and even necessary during life’s setbacks or losses. Feeling blue or unhappy for short periods of time without reason or warning is also normal and ordinary. But if such feelings persist or impair daily life, it could signal a depressive disorder. The severity and duration of the sad feelings, as well as the presence of other symptoms, are factors that distinguish ordinary sadness from a depressive disorder. Other symptoms of depression include loss of interest in usual activities, sleep and eating disorders, and withdrawal from family and friends.
Depression can happen to anyone at any age. It afflicts almost 19 million Americans each year, and up to one in five American women will suffer from clinical depression at some point in her life. Many women first experience symptoms of depression during their 20’s and 30’s.
Depression is a mental illness that develops over time that affects women of all ages. Genetics, environmental and emotional trauma can accelerate the development of depression. Seeking professional help, having a support system, and staying active are all helpful ways to overcome pain and depression.
Anxiety is a vague or intense feeling caused by physical or psychological conditions, typified by feelings of agitation and loss of emotional control. Anxiety or feelings of anxiousness are also associated with panic attacks, and can manifest as physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and palpitations. Anxiety during menopause is caused by the sudden drop in estrogen levels circulating in the body, which reduce the production of neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation, such as serotonin and dopamine.
The frequency of anxiety can range from a one-time event to recurrent episodes. Early diagnosis may aid a quick recovery, prevent the disorder from becoming worse, and possibly prevent the disorder from developing into depression, so it is important to seek medical treatment for anxiety symptoms.
Irritability is a pervading “bad mood” characterized by feelings of stress, reduced patience and tolerance, and lashing out in anger or frustration over matters that may seem trivial to others. Irritability during menopause is most often caused by hormonal changes, whereby low levels of circulating estrogen have an adverse effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for regulating mood.
Many menopausal women also feel irritable or “on edge” a lot of the time due to the added stresses of other symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and sleep disorders. If irritability persists for more than a week and is adversely affecting job performance and relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, seeking the advice of a medical practitioner is recommended.
Panic disorder consists of significant and debilitating emotional episodes characterized by sudden and overwhelming fear and anxiety. These feelings can be intense, and caused by physical or psychological conditions. An episode of panic disorder may entail rapid heartbeat, feeling of dread, shallow breathing, nervousness, and feelings of extreme terror. These panic “attacks” can range in frequency from a single episode to regular occurrences.
Panic disorder can be extremely scary for women who experience it, but it is possible to overcome it by treating the root of the cause – hormonal imbalance – through making simple lifestyle changes complemented by alternative medicines. If a woman’s quality of life is disrupted by this symptom, it is important to seek the advice of a doctor.
Typically, breast pain is characterized as a generalized discomfort or pain associated with touching or applying pressure to the breasts. Breast pain, soreness, or breast tenderness in one or both breasts is symptomatic of hormonal changes, and as such often precedes or accompanies menstrual periods, and can also occur during pregnancy, post-partum, and menopause. The specific imbalance of hormones that causes breast pain is unique to each individual woman, so breast pain might occur at different times or at different intensities in individual women.
A woman should consult her doctor if the pain is severe or persists for two months or more, as well as if the breast pain is accompanied by a breast lump, nipple discharge, or any other unusual symptoms.
Breast pain is a common affliction among women of all ages, affecting some more frequently and severely than others. Women with large breasts may have noncyclic breast pain related to the size of their breasts. Sometimes, abscesses can cause soreness in a specific area, treatments will largely depend on the cause of your noncyclic mastalgia
Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors such as muscle tension, drinking too much alcohol, or as a side effect of common illnesses such as the flu. However, headaches are also linked with the effects of hormonal imbalance, and therefore with the various stages of reproductive life.
Many women with regular menstrual cycles get headaches or migraines just before their periods or at ovulation. These headaches, sometimes called “menstrual migraines”, occur when estrogen levels plunge during the menstrual cycle. So, when the body begins slowing down its production of estrogen due to menopause, a woman may experience more and worse headaches. Severe headaches that are accompanied by confusion or high fever can indicate a serious health condition and require the immediate attention of a doctor.
Headaches are among the most common menopausal symptoms. Menopausal headaches are primarily caused by hormone fluctuations. Managing these headaches can be simple and inexpensive. Drinking plenty of water, trying herbal remedies, and exercising frequently can be beneficial for managing headaches. Keep reading to learn more.
Joint pain is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It is thought that more than half of all postmenopausal women experience varying degrees of joint pain. Joint pain is an unexplained soreness in muscles and joints, which is unrelated to trauma or exercise, but may be related to the effects of fluctuating hormone levels on the immune system. Estrogen helps prevent inflammation in the joints, so low levels of estrogen during menopause can lead to increased instances of inflammation, and therefore increased joint pain.
It is not wise to ignore these aches and pains. Early treatment can often bring about a cure and prevent the development of arthritis. Read this article to learn about healthy strategies for fighting joint pain.
Burning mouth syndrome is a complex, vexing condition in which a burning pain occurs on the tongue or lips, or throughout the whole mouth, without visible signs of irritation, but accompanied with other symptoms such as bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. Burning tongue affects up to 5% of U.S. adults, women seven times more than men. It generally occurs after age 60, but it may occur in younger people as well.
The disorder has long been associated with a variety of conditions, including menopause. In menopause, low estrogen levels are thought to damage bitter taste buds in the mouth, setting off the surrounding pain neurons. Women who have persistent pain or soreness in their tongue, lips, gums, or other areas of their mouth should seek the advice of their doctor.
Electric Shock Sensation
This symptom presents a peculiar “electric” sensation, like the feeling of a rubber band snapping in the layer of tissue between skin and muscle, or, when it appears as a precursor to a hot flash, it is often felt across the head. Electric shocks usually only occur for a brief moment, but it can still be quite an unpleasant sensation. The cause of electric shock sensation in menopause is thought to be related to the effect of fluctuating estrogen levels on the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Although this symptom is relatively harmless, it can be uncomfortable, and it can be easily resolved by treating the underlying cause – hormonal imbalance. If the symptom becomes intense, it may be a good idea to contact a doctor for further assistance.
Digestive problems are defined as changes in gastrointestinal function, with symptoms such as excessive gas production, gastrointestinal cramping, and nausea. There are a couple of reasons why menopausal women might be experiencing more digestive problems than previously: hormonal imbalance disrupts the natural transit of food in the gut, and stress has an adverse effect on the normal functioning of hormones.
Digestive problems could also be due to a change in diet or even lactose intolerance, the body’s rejection of dairy products such as cow’s milk and its byproducts, due to the decreasing production of the digestive hormone lactase with age. Women who experience gas and stomach pain for more than three days, or whose pain is more severe than before, should see a doctor immediately.
Gum problems are common among menopausal women; although these could be due to poor dental hygiene, they are also caused by menopausal hormonal changes, mainly estrogen deficiency. The most common of the gum problems experienced in menopause is gingivitis, or inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Left untreated, gum problems can lead to tooth loss, infections, and heart disease, so it is important to seek treatment for gum problems in menopause.
Bleeding and sore gums are easy to reverse if they are caught before they get too severe, via a combination of dental hygiene methods and tackling the underlying hormonal imbalance through healthy lifestyle changes and natural supplements. If the problem continues, it is important to seek advice from a doctor or dentist.
Muscle tension is when muscles, especially the ones in the neck, shoulders, and back, feel tight or strained, or when there is a general increase in aches, pains, soreness, and stiffness throughout the body. Muscle tension is a common symptom of menopause, because low estrogen levels lead to a rise in cortisol, known primarily as the stress hormone. Continued high levels of cortisol cause the muscles in the body to tighten and become fatigued.
Women who are generally fit and healthy are less prone to muscle tension than women suffering from poor nutrition and who do not do sufficient physical exercise. Menopausal women suffering from muscle tension should tackle the root of the problem – hormonal imbalance – as well as practice relaxation techniques.
It is not always possible to determine the reason behind muscle weakness by merely visually examining a person; sometimes, more in-depth medical testing is necessary. There are several different procedures that can reveal more specific problems relating to muscle functionality, and it might be necessary to conduct more than one of these.
Itchy, Crawly Skin
When estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, collagen production also slows down. Collagen is responsible for keeping skin toned, fresh-looking, and resilient. So when the body starts running low on collagen, it shows in the skin, as the skin gets thinner, drier, flakier, and less youthful-looking. Skin dryness leads to pruritus, or itchy skin, a frustrating symptom that can disrupt both women’s sleeping and waking lives.
Itchy skin is one of the first menopause symptoms to appear because collagen loss is most rapid at the beginning of menopause. It is possible that premature menopause also leads to more rapid collagen loss. These skin changes can also make a woman look and feel a little older than she used to. To be able to overcome itchy skin symptoms, a woman will first need to address her hormonal imbalance.
One possible cause of itchy skin may be stress due to responses it can trigger in the body. This can be managed, naturally, by reducing stress with relaxing activities. Other people may have a nervous habit of scratching the skin, which only makes the itching feel worse.
Tingling extremities is where menopausal women experience the feeling of “creepy-crawlies” walking all over their skin, a burning sensation like an insect sting, or super-sensitivity in their hands, arms, legs, and feet. In most people, tingling is harmless, usually occurring due to a pinched nerve or compressed artery, which reduces blood flow through the extremity causing it to “fall asleep”. However, in menopausal women, tingling extremities is likely caused by the effect that low estrogen levels have on the central nervous system.
Tingling extremities can also be a symptom of any number of problems, including anxiety, poor blood circulation, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or a tumor. Any unexplained tingling that affects one side of the body or is accompanied by muscle weakness warrants immediate medical attention.
Although people don’t usually think of pins and needles as a medical problem, it can be a symptom of some medical issues. The technical medical term for any sort of tingling, numb, or pins and needles sensation in any part of the body is paresthesia.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disorder, characterized by thinning and weakening of the bone and a general decrease in bone mass and density. Menopause negatively affects bone growth. Normally, bones go through a process whereby old bone is replaced with new bone cells, but the body’s ability to handle this process changes with age. By around age 35 there is less bone growth than there is bone removal.
Estrogen is involved in the process of calcium absorption into the bones; thus, due to the drop in estrogen levels, women will experience an accelerated reduction in bone density from perimenopause onwards. This disorder is called osteoporosis. Reduced bone density means that bones are much more susceptible to breaks and fractures.