Menopause is a vastly different experience for every woman and I often see women in forums I’m part of questioning if their latest symptom is normal for menopause. The truth is there are a crazy number of symptoms attributed to menopause. There is definitely a handful that are more common than others and these top the list. However, there are also a ton of others that you may experience, you may not.
It’s likely you’ll notice the symptoms several years before your periods actually stop (perimenopause) and for a number of years afterward. On average, (if you’re lucky!), this will be around 4 years. For some though, it can go on for significantly longer.
One of the first symptoms most women will notice is a change in their periods. Contrary to popular belief, this might not be a slowing down of you periods. Like me, they may become more frequent. Bad times! This can be a change to every 2 – 3 weeks instead of 4. You might also notice changes in your flow with unusually light or heavy periods. Eventually, they will stop though.
Hot flushes and night sweats
This is by far one of the most problematic for many women. They can be a source of disruption, embarrassment and discomfort. If you’re not sure if you’re having hot flushes or night sweats, there is a difference between just feeling a bit hot and sweaty occasionally. It is usually a feeling of heat that seems to come from nowhere and spreads throughout the body. The intense feeling of warmth spreads across your whole body and face. They can last anything from a few seconds to a few minutes. There are things you can do to help and I’ve put together a post about that here.
This can be a scary symptom and one that can also be mistaken for anxiety if this is something you’ve suffered with before. Palpitations are basically just heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable. It can feel like your heart is pounding but it may be more like a flutter. It can last a few seconds to a few minutes. In the case of menopause, these palpitations are harmless. If you are worried though or have any other symptoms alongside your palpitations such as shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness or fainting, you should get this checked out immediately as it could indicate a more serious problem.
This might not be a term you’ve come across but you may still identify straight away with what it means. Or you may describe it as feeling forgetful or having difficulty concentrating. The general school of thought is that brain fog is linked to low mood, hot flushes and sleeping problems and is caused by the out of whack hormone levels experienced during perimenopause. Take heart though, it’s likely that it will go away in time.
Weight gain during perimenopause is common. There are some theories as to why such as increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and impaired function of the hormones that control feelings of fullness. At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t matter much why as you’re probably only concerned with preventing it or getting rid of it!
Perimenopause often occurs at a time in our lives when we are dealing with other big life events such as children leaving home, becoming grandparents or taking on a caring role for aging parents. Chuck in the night sweats and it can be a recipe for disaster if you can’t get on top of it. You can get more info on managing this here.
As well as these symptoms you may also experience the following:
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Changes in libido
- Sore breasts
- Joint pain
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Itchy skin
- Brittle nails
- Burning mouth
- Gum problems
- Digestive issues
- Electric shocks
- Changes with your hair
- Tight muscles
- Changes in body odour
- Stress incontinence
As you can see, there are a whole host of symptoms. Some of which you may never have. If you do though and it’s causing you problems, don’t suffer and struggle. Speak to your GP or contact me for a chat and I’m happy to help or give you any pointers you may need.