Ever since puberty, you’ve known that menstrual cycles affect all women differently. Some women experience gut-wrenching abdominal cramps every month while others rarely cramp at all. And when it comes to menopause, the variation in symptoms is no less extreme. Some women experience volcanic hot flashes while others become noticeably more forgetful.
Most women begin perimenopause in their 40s, but for some women, menopause symptoms begin in their 30s. The only way to know for certain that you’ve reached perimenopause is to be diagnosed by your doctor. But below are 10 of the most common symptoms of menopause.
1. Welcome to the Hot Flash Bash
Hot flashes are the most common menopause symptom. There’s no surefire way to predict a hot flash and, during one, your blood vessels may dilate, causing your skin to flush. You’re also likely to begin to sweat. Most doctors believe that hot flashes are a result of fluctuating estrogen levels. (For more on hot flashes, check out Is it Hot in Here? Understanding Hot Flashes.)
2. Dripping in Night Sweats
Menopause might not be the only reason you experience night sweats. But during menopause, night sweats are typically the result of a hot flash that occurs while you’re sleeping. For some women, nighttime hot flashes are severe enough to wake them up. But others don’t even realize they’re experiencing night sweats until they wake up looking like they just worked out. If you’re wondering how to stop night sweats naturally, check out Is it Hot in Here? Understanding Hot Flashes.
3. Head in the Clouds
Forgetfulness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. If you frequently find yourself forgetting words, walking into a room and wondering why you’re there, or feeling like you’re living in a general fog, know that you’re not alone. Many women experience the proverbial menopause brain. And most women report that forgetfulness wanes with post-menopause’s onset. Until then, completing regular mental puzzles like crosswords or learning a new skill like how to play the piano could help to clear up some of that mental fog.1
4. Bad Hair Days
During menopause, it’s common for women to experience hair thinning. You may notice that you lose more hair in the shower than you used to or that your hair isn’t growing in as thick as it used to. These hairy new developments are likely to be primarily the result of hormonal changes. And while stopping hair loss altogether is unlikely, you can stack the hair loss cards in your favor by ensuring that your body is getting the nutrients it needs. (For more on what nutrients your body needs during menopause, check out 6 Nutrients to Step Up During Menopause.)
5. Weight for It
Weight gain and bloating are remarkably common during menopause. As your estrogen levels dip, your metabolism slows, and as your body loses muscle mass, it burns fewer calories.2 When it comes to the factors of weight gain, menopause is a perfect storm. While there’s no easy way to turn back the scale, eating a diet rich in fibrous fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly will help you manage your weight throughout menopause.
6. Depression, Anxiety, and Generally Feeling Down
During menopause, you’re at a higher risk for depression and anxiety.3 And feeling down during this period of your life is normal. Many women report feeling sad to be leaving their fertility behind—even if they didn’t have future plans to become pregnant. Exercise, a healthy diet, meditation, and acupuncture might be helpful in managing your mood. But if feelings of depression or anxiety begin interfering with your everyday activities, it’s important to talk to your doctor to find the treatment that’s right for you.
7. A Shortage of Zzzs
Many women experience insomnia and sleep disturbances during menopause. The decline in your sleep quality could be a result of menopause symptoms interfering with your sleep cycles. And not getting enough sleep can actually make many of your symptoms worse. How’s that for a catch-22? If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, establishing a regular bedtime, limiting screen time before bed, and unwinding with visualization or meditation may help you get the sleep your body needs.
8. Mood Swing Mania
Feeling sad or angry for no apparent reason is common during menopause. Similar to the reason some women feel “moody” before their menstrual cycle, the hormonal influx of menopause leads many women to feel like they’ve lost control of their emotions. Once your body adjusts to lower estrogen levels, your mood will likely level out. Until then, acupuncture and meditation practices can be helpful. But the most important thing you can do when facing mood swings is to be patient with yourself. The roller coaster of emotions won’t last forever.
9. Bedroom Blues
If you find that you’re hardly ever in the mood during menopause, you’re not alone. Vaginal atrophy, or the drying and thinning of vaginal tissues, is one of the most common symptoms of menopause.4 And it can make having sex uncomfortable or even painful. Not to mention, if you’re also experiencing hair loss or weight gain, you might not feel as sexy as you used to. Fortunately, over-the-counter lubricants can help with vaginal dryness during sex, and most women find that they regain their confidence and sexual desire in the post-menopause years.
10. Muscle and Joint Aches Are a Real Pain
If newfound aches and pains begin popping up, don’t worry. Muscle soreness, joint aches, and back pain are common menopause symptoms. Regular exercise and stretching might help alleviate some of that soreness. But if that’s not enough, EQUELLE’s plant-based formula has also been clinically shown to relieve muscle aches associated with menopause.† For more on how EQUELLE affects your body during menopause, check out How EQUELLE Works. Most women find that their menopause symptoms lessen or cease entirely in their post-menopause years. But until then, you may find it helpful to share your symptoms with your friends. No matter how uncomfortable or unexpected your symptoms may seem, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
1Biggers A, Marcin A. Healthline. What Causes Menopause Brain Fog and How’s It Treated? Version current 22 December 2017. Internet: https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-brain-fog#prevention (accessed 27 November 2018).
2Faubion, Stephanie S, MD. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Midlife Weight Gain—Sound Familiar? You’re Not Alone. Version current 23 January 2018. Internet: http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-take-time-to-think-about-it/consumers/2018/01/23/midlife-weight-gain-sound-familiar-you-re-not-alone (accessed 27 November 2018).
3Office of Women’s Health. Menopause symptoms and relief. Version current 23 May 2018. Internet: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-symptoms-and-relief (accessed 16 November 2018).
4The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Menopause 101: a primer for perimenopausal. Version current 16 November 2018. Internet: http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal (accessed 16 November 2018).