Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’m feeling something normal at my age or is it something I should fix, ignore, or time for a doctor appointment. How can us girls know? (Hello! User manual would help here!)
Below I’ve provided information that I hope will help you determine if you are experiencing expected changes in how we feel and look at this stage in our life.
Symptoms of Menopause: Common, Rare & Most Troubling
Menopause comes with dozens of possible symptoms, including very common, very surprising and downright troubling. Some of us experience just a few of these and unfortunately some experience the whole package.
An unexpected and gradual increase in body fat is a common sign of menopause, and it typically occurs before actual menopause begins. By the time many women have completed menopause, they’re 10 to 20 pounds heavier despite not having changed their diet or exercise habits.
Getting this weight off can be quite difficult, but some menopausal women would never trade this symptom for yet another common symptom that’s very disturbing: thinning hair and hair loss.
It’s a double whammy of distress when a woman suffers both these symptoms due to menopause. Though these days, a woman can easily wear hair extensions and hair toppers, concealing the weight gain never quite as easy.
Hot flashes are another common symptom (affecting two-thirds of women during the change), and many women would trade these for a little weight gain (though probably not for the hair loss), as this symptom can be highly disruptive on the job and during business meetings.
Other Primary Common Symptoms of Menopause
Night sweats. Think of these as prolonged hot flashes that can leave us drenched, interfering with sleep.
Vaginal atrophy which is when the vagina shrinks, and natural production of the lubricating cervical fluid diminishes, leaving a woman prone to painful intercourse. And if that weren’t bad enough, diminished libido comes along with it!
Dry skin, nails, and hair caused from having less estrogen in our system can add to the already annoying symptoms.
Reduction in breast fullness again from less estrogen.
Incontinence can sneak up on us (especially when we laugh or sneeze).
Increased facial hair around our lip, chin, and cheeks.
Common Secondary Symptoms of Menopause
Insomnia, difficulty getting restful sleep. This is an indirect result of menopause due most notably to night sweats and stress over other primary symptoms such as daytime hot flashes, vaginal atrophy, thinning hair and slowed metabolism.
Mental fog/forgetfulness. The verdict isn’t officially out on whether or not menopause directly causes cognitive issues, but any cognitive concerns may also be related to coinciding situations such as poor diet and exercise finally catching up to a woman’s brain.
Menopause may also coincide with stressors such as the last child leaving for college or major illness of an elderly parent or death of one, and these stressors can result in difficulty concentrating.
Irritability and depression. The knowledge that one is no longer fertile can dampen mood. A partner who’s not understanding about the physical problems like weight gain and drippy hot flashes will compound susceptibility to mood disorders.
Sometimes a mood swing can be so intense that it’s easier to attribute it to something hormonal rather than to one’s husband groaning about having to open a window in the dead of winter during his wife’s hot flash.
Rarer, Surprising Primary Symptoms of Menopause
Heart palpitations or increased heart rate. It’s advised that a woman undergo a full cardiac exam to rule out a heart problem, since one of the risk factors for heart disease for women is that of being at least 50.
Heart disease doesn’t cause heart palpitations or “fluttering,” but another cardiac problem (that’s more likely in a 50-something woman than in a younger woman) indeed can cause a sensation of “fluttering.” And sometimes, heart palpitations can occur in a healthy heart with no apparent cause.
Heart rate typically increases during a hot flash, so it’s advised not to take a heart rate reading during a hot flash if a woman wants to accurately track her resting pulse.
Dizziness, lightheadedness. A doctor checkup should rule out other causes that may be coinciding with menopause, such as type II diabetes, hypoglycemia, abnormally low blood pressure or an inner ear problem.
Loss of balance. Again, a doctor checkup is important.
Breast discomfort. This can have several other benign causes such as a tight bra or leaning into a breast while sleeping.
Tingling in the extremities. This, too, warrants a medical exam, as other medical conditions can cause this symptom.
Sensation of the tongue, gums or lips burning (from hormone imbalance)
Sensation of “creepy crawlies” or electric shocks under the skin
Panic attacks. These aren’t just a mere feeling of high anxiety, but an irrational fear that doom will strike, that death is imminent, even though you’re in a calm, harmless environment and you have no diagnosed serious diseases.
Dental problems. Less estrogen, once again, is a culprit, drying up the mouth and causing more bacteria to propagate.
Headaches project management system. Keep in mind that these can be caused from stress and lack of hydration, which may occur as a result of the angst that a woman experiences due to menopause’s primary symptoms.
Increase in allergies
Joint aches are often deemed as a symptom of menopause, but the reality is that if a woman hasn’t been working out efficiently, joint aches will often start showing up at around age 50 (especially if she’s overweight), give or take, making it easy to blame this natural physiological transitional process.
In my next post, I will provide possible treatments or solutions to the problems listed above. But as I will continuously say: Please see a doctor if you have any questions or concerns with your health. I am here just to give you some ideas but I am in no way a healthcare professional!
Thanks so much for stopping by and stay Cool