First signs of menopause — what are the 34 symptoms of the menopause?
The menopause represents a major stage in a woman’s life, bringing with it profound physical and emotional changes to our bodies.
It might sound like an oddly-specific number, but there are actually 34 typical symptoms of menopause that women can experience. Some can be subtle and hardly noticeable, whereas others may cause a great deal of distress or discomfort.
If you’re looking out for signs of menopause, our checklist talks through what you might expect — including some top tips for how you can enjoy a smoother menopause.
The 34 symptoms of the menopause
1. Irregular periods
The menopause is officially characterised by no longer having periods. As you’re probably aware, the years leading up to this point — the perimenopause — sees us experiencing more irregular periods. Disruption to your menstrual cycle is one of the first signs of menopause, and usually begins around four years before your last period.
Oestrogen and progesterone regulate the menstrual cycle, and as we enter the perimenopause period, these hormones fluctuate erratically. This can result in very frequent periods, barely any at all, or very light or heavy periods. You may also experience premenstrual syndrome with no bleeding, as well.
As well as period changes, around eight in 10 women will experience additional symptoms of menopause. Next up — hot flushes.
2. Hot flushes
Many women report redness on the face, neck and chest — it can often just feel like we’re overheating! In fact, aside from menstrual changes, hot flushes are the most commonly-reported symptom of menopause, with over 75% of women being prone to feel warm flashes during the menopause.
It’s down to changes in our hormone levels affecting our body’s ability to control its temperature. These sudden feelings of heat can come on with no notice, spreading through the body. Some women have them very infrequently, with many citing them as a cause for social embarrassment. Fortunately, they’re very rarely a cause for actual concern.
Making efforts to keep your environment cool can help with hot flushes, as can cutting down on caffeine and alcohol. Sipping a cool drink — or spraying your face with chilled water — can help to minimise these harmless heat surges.
3. Night sweats
Just as you can get hot flushes during the day, they can strike when you’re fast asleep. It can be particularly uncomfortable to be awoken with night sweats, and they can sometimes cause major disruption to sleep schedule.
Again, it’s down to — you’ve guessed it — hormonal imbalances. They’re actually the second most commonly reported symptoms of menopause, according to research.
Aside from hormone therapy, like with hot flushes, you can take steps to cool yourself down and reduce the chances of night sweats causing discomfort. We’re talking lighter clothing, a gentle fan to keep your room cool or a cold drink by your bedside. Try increasing your exercise levels and cutting down on potential triggers, like caffeine and alcohol.
Most women entering the perimenopause will have days where they just feel flat. Extreme tiredness and fatigue are very common symptoms and come about as a result of those fluctuating hormone levels.
Many women find that supplementing with B vitamins can help to ease this; a carefully-curated daily supplement — such as Cleanmarine Menomin — can reduce tiredness and boost energy-yielding metabolism.
Other than that, simple advice to help curb the daytime urge to sleep includes getting to bed earlier, staying hydrated and taking some daily morning exercise to get those endorphins flowing. Starting some simple relaxation exercises can reduce stress, which helps to keep you perked up throughout the day, too.
5. Water and gas bloating
If you’re noticing swollen, puffy ankles, feet and hands, it could be down to water retention. The hormonal changes that our bodies undergo during the menopause prompt our bodies to store more water in our extremities.
Tips for combating this include cutting back on the amount of sodium in your diet, increasing your potassium intake and reducing everyday stress. Feeling overwhelmed encourages the production of cortisol, which prompts water retention.
If your bloating is accompanied by stomach pains, it could be gas retention. A solution is to chew food more slowly, have smaller meals and cut back on fizzy drinks.
6. Vaginal dryness
If you’re approaching the menopause years and things feel a little bit drier than they used to down there, you’re by no means alone — at all. In fact, varginal dryness is rated as the fourth most common sign of menopause, behind hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia.
It’s down to the declining production of oestrogen, which causes vaginal tissues to become more thin over time, and more prone to being irritated. This can make sex more painful. Fortunately, lubricants and moisturisers provide a fairly straightforward solution.
7. Digestive problems
The various hormonal changes our bodies undergo during the perimenopause can make our bodies more prone to experiencing stomach pain. So, seventh up in our 34 symptoms of menopause — digestive pain.
It’s no secret that the perimenopause process can cause us to become stressed, which impacts our bellies quite considerably. That’s in addition to the relatively-unknown role that sex hormones play in the rhythm of our gastrointestinal tract; fluctuating levels can cause tummy troubles.
Relaxation and the intake of a quality nutritional supplement can help to keep your gut ticking over nicely during the menopause.
8. Lower libido
As you’ll most probably know, our sex drive is controlled by hormones. During the stages leading up to a woman becoming menopausal, oestrogen levels can fluctuate and drop considerably. Simply put, this can leave us with less lust for sex.
Some natural ways to bolster our sex drive include enjoying a healthy, nutritious diet and getting at least 30 minutes’ exercise per day.
9. Mood swings
Irritability, depression, anxiety, or just feeling like a good old sob — an erratic mood is common when you’re on your period, but menopausal mood swings can feel like a more extreme version of this. Many studies have borne this out; the menopause is really challenging for our emotions.
The decline in oestrogen in the body is at the heart of this, as it changes the way our body handles serotonin. Aside from hormone therapy, there are lifestyle changes that can help; getting your daily exercise helps to release those feel-good hormones in your brain. A diet rich in omega-3 has also been shown to help alleviate — or at least minimise — these mood swings.
In general, a healthy, well-rounded diet never hurts.
Following on from the above, menopausal changes to our bodies can lead to a low mood. Researchers have also found that women entering the menopause can be more prone to seeing increases in levels of a brain protein — Monoamine Oxidase A — which is linked to depression.
Mild exercise and a healthy diet all play a part in helping to prevent low mood. Seeking professional help is recommended if your depression is prolonged and severe.
That’s right — ‘hormone headaches’ are a very real thing. Indeed, half of women who report headaches say they seem to coincide with their periods. Menstrual migraines can be crippling.
For some women, these headaches can abate when they get to the menopause. For some others, unfortunately, the hormone disruption and imbalance actually makes them more severe. Oestrogen withdrawal — which comes with the menopause — can be a trigger for migraines.
Potential solutions include increased exercise and a balanced diet. Certain nutritional daily supplements have been shown to reduce the frequency of headaches. Cognitive therapies like CBT can help us to deal with the stressors of pain, lessening the impact of menopause headaches on our daily lives.
12. Weight gain
Another of the 34 symptoms of menopause to watch out for is putting on a bit more weight, particularly around our tummies. This is caused by hormones, but can be exacerbated by the tendency to feel fatigued, which can make it harder to exercise.
Making careful adjustments to your diet will, of course, help. Rather than cutting them out completely — which can lead to sugar cravings — try and switch out refined carbohydrates for their complex cousins (wholemeal bread and rice, for example). Keep your protein intake high, too. This can help you feel fuller for longer.
Also, how many times have you thought you were hungry, but in fact all you needed was a glass of water? The lesson here — keep your fluids up.
13. Breast soreness
Whether it’s menstruation or pregnancy, times of great hormonal stress and fluctuation always seem to cause breast tenderness and pain. Of course, the perimenopause is no different; it might be a dull ache, a throbbing pain or even a burning sensation.
It’s a good idea to watch your salt intake; sodium encourages our bodies to retain more water and can make us dehydrated, which can make this soreness worse. Regular exercise, a warm compress and a well-fitted bra are simple tips for beating down breast soreness. Of course, popping some over-the-counter painkillers can also help to make things more manageable too.
14. A hot mouth
If you’re lucky enough to not have experienced this symptom, you might be perplexed, but the menopause can cause a reduced production of saliva in some women. Also known as ‘burning mouth syndrome’ (BMS), it affects the roof of your mouth, your lips and your cheeks. It can also leave a metallic taste in your mouth; again, falling oestrogen levels are to blame.
Sipping on a cold drink throughout the day — or even sucking on small ice chips — can help to sooth this irritating burning sensation. Needless to say, limiting your consumption of hot and spicy foods, as well as hot beverages, can help to keep your mouth feeling cool.
15. Joint issues
Sure, we all experience aching joints as we get older. But, for many women, musculoskeletal niggles are another of these 34 symptoms of menopause; this decreased mobility and flexibility affects the hips and knees in particular, and can be rather debilitating.
The mechanism here can be multi-faceted. The menopause goes hand-in-hand with weight gain, which can place increased strain on our joints. Also, as we’ve established, it’s not uncommon for women to also become dehydrated during the menopause, leading to joint stiffness.
As with most signs of menopause, however, the chief cause is usually hormone changes; oestrogen is responsible for maintaining our joint fluid levels. Drinking plenty of water and keeping moving are two of the best things you can do to keep these problems at bay. Another is supplementing with omega-3 and eating omega-3-rich foods; these help tremendously with joint inflammation.
16. Dizzy spells
It’s not unheard of for women to more frequently experience episodes of vertigo — dizziness — as a result of the menopause process. It’s thought that these dizzy spells are caused by fluctuating hormone levels in the body.
Our blood sugar levels can become unbalanced, with our bodies responding differently to insulin. Fatigue, hot flashes and dehydration — all quintessential menopause symptoms — can all add to this issue.
Drinking water, keeping your blood sugar levels stable as well as standing up slowly after lying down all help if you’re prone to dizzy spells. Also, make sure to keep your stress levels in check. Hormones released during times of tension can exacerbate dizziness.
17. Muscle tension
At the half-way point of our 34 symptoms of the menopause — muscle tightness. There’s an inextricable link between our minds and our bodies; because many of us become more prone to stress and anxiety during the menopause, this is reflected in our muscles.
If you’re not started already, learning some relaxation techniques can be valuable. Breathing exercises can help to ease up unpleasant feelings of tension.
18. Thinner hair
As with all of these menopause-induced symptoms, it’s down to hormonal changes — namely, a decline in oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones both play a role in helping our hair to grow and stay on our head. When they decline, it also results in the growth of androgen, which can shrink hair follicles.
The hair loss can also be down to stress, poor diet or illness. So, if you’re looking to beat menopause hair thinning, get these in check. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and a daily nutritional supplement will do your hair no harm, nor will daily exercise and plentiful, consistent hydration.
19. Electric shocks
This is one of the few symptoms of menopause that scientists don’t fully understand, but we know that plenty of women experience it, particularly as a precursor to a hot flash! It’s thought to be down to the role oestrogen plays in our brains, causing our nervous system’s messages to be misunderstood and neurons to misfire.
Omega-3 is good for your nervous system. Ensuring a strong dietary intake — through foods like salmon, or a supplement — will help to keep everything in check.
20. Gum issues
It’s not just burning mouth syndrome that can afflict women undergoing the menopause; approximately a quarter of women also experience some sort of gum problems. We’re talking gum recession, gingivitis and gum bleeding.
As you guessed, it’s down to declining oestrogen levels. Ensuring a thorough and effective dental routine, regular trips to the dentist and taking a good vitamin supplement can keep menopause toothy troubles at bay.
21. Pins and needles
If you’re feeling a spot of tingling in your extremities, it’s usually pretty easy to identify why — you’ve probably been lying on your arm or leg for an extended period of time. However, with the menopause, there’s another possible cause.
It’s down to fluctuating oestrogen levels. This impacts our central nervous system, leading to our nerves to somewhat misfire and cause tingling or numbness in our hands, feet, arms and legs.
This is nothing to worry about. However, if you find these pins and needles to be a particular problem, incorporate some stretching exercises into your lifestyle to help with blood flow. An epsom salt bath is also known to help with nerve function.
22. Lack of focus
It’s not uncommon for women in the menopause to have trouble keeping the mind on one task. Our oestrogen levels are intimately connected to brain function; the hormone encourages blood flow to the brain. When it fluctuates, so can our concentration levels.
Feeling worried can also make it harder to focus, too. So with stress being one of the most common symptoms of menopause, struggles concentrating go hand in hand.
As always, simple lifestyle changes can help us maintain optimum levels of focus — this means a balanced diet, daily exercise, plenty of water, as well as restful sleep. Vitamin B is also credited with helping to bolster mental function, as are a range of herbal remedies.
23. Lapses in memory
As well as aging more generally, hormonal changes during the menopause can cause us to sometimes be more forgetful — and research has shown this to be true, with perimenopause affecting our cognition.
Keep your diet and sleeping in check and consider incorporating some mental exercises to strengthen cognitive function.
24. Itchy skin
When our oestrogen levels decline during the menopause, so does our skin’s production of collagen and natural oils — both responsible for keeping our skin fresh and hydrated. As a result, it’s fairly common for women to experience the menopause to report itchy, dry or flaky skin.
As you may have guessed, the solution is the consistent application of a good moisturiser. Soap is also known to dry your skin out, so opt for a gentle cleanser.
It’s fairly well known that the menopause can be an emotionally challenging time. If you’re feeling a bit keyed up, you’re not alone; it’s been reported that 23% of women experience anxiety during the menopause.
Some natural lifestyle solutions include daily exercise, capping your caffeine and alcohol intake and learning some relaxation breathing exercises. There’s also therapy-based solutions, with CBT a highly-regarded treatment.
26. Brittle nails
During the menopause, chipping a nail can be a more common occurrence. As you’ll have guessed, this is chiefly down to hormonal changes; with declining and fluctuating oestrogen levels, our body finds it more difficult to regulate its water level. This results in dehydration, and brittle nails. The solution, therefore, is a steady and consistent intake of water, keeping those nails hydrated and on fleek.
27. Poor sleep
We all need our beauty sleep, so it can be hugely frustrating when we find it more difficult to nod off and — just as importantly — to stay asleep. If this sounds like you, you’re certainly not alone; 61% of women reported troubles with insomnia as one of their signs of menopause.
A lack of sleep can have real knock-on effects on the rest of our lives. It can also interact with other menopause symptoms, impacting our immune system and anxiety level. Try to reduce caffeine intake, get a balanced diet and incorporate some daily exercise. Wearing lightweight pyjamas can also make it easier to drop off.
28. Urinary incontinence
It’s not uncommon for women who are at the age of the menopause to experience some stress incontinence, which is when weakened muscles struggle to hold back urine; this could happen as a result of sneezing, coughing, heavy lighting or even laughing.
By cutting back on caffeine and alcohol consumption, you’ll be taking some strain off your bladder. It might also be helpful to incorporate some pelvic floor strengthening exercises — squeezing and relaxing your pelvic muscles — to help with bladder control. Retraining your bladder by only going to the toilet at pre-planned times can help, too.
29. Body odour
Hormonal changes during the menopause cause all manner of bizarre, unexpected changes to our bodies. Another one some menopausal women can expect is to their natural scent.
As we’ve established, menopause can cause our body’s personal temperature gauge to act up somewhat, causing us to sweat more. As we also discussed, a lack of oestrogen stops our body from regulating its water level so well, resulting in dehydration. This makes our sweat much more concentrated — and potentially more smelly.
Staying hydrated and applying a good deodorant are your obvious go-to remedies for any extra body odour.
30. Hayfever & allergies
When our immune system comes under stress, it releases histamines, which cause allergic reactions. So, because of the intimate connection between hormones and our immune system, it’s not unusual to notice some changes to our allergy profile during the menopause. Any sleep issues you experience during the menopause can have a knock-on effect, contributing to the heightened allergies.
If you’re one of the menopausal women who gets a reaction, keep an eye out for what’s triggering your allergies. Staying hydrated can help, reducing the concentration of histamines in your body. Also, by ensuring you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll help to take stress off your immune system.
31. Heart palpitations
For some women, the menopause can cause the heart to beat faster than usual. This is as a result of low oestrogen levels causing an overstimulation of the nervous system. The majority of the time, these palpitations are completely harmless, but it’s always worth checking in with your doctor.
It’s oft-touted advice, but watching your caffeine intake can help to keep your heartbeat in check, as can practising relaxation techniques. Cutting back on stimulants like alcohol and nicotine might prove useful, too.
Feeling a bit antsy or fretful? We all do from time to time, but if you’re experiencing these feelings a bit more frequently than you used to, it’s probably because irritability is another of the 34 symptoms of menopause. As with all of the other psychological and emotional changes, this is down to imbalances of oestrogen and progesterone.
It might also be a result of hanger. When our blood sugar levels drop too low, our bodies raise it back up by releasing cortisol — which makes us feel irritable. Check in on your exercise level, too; it’s a tool to be leveraged in improving your mood.
33. Panic attacks
Many women report increased incidences of panic disorder as they enter the menopause years. Although the cause of a panic episode can vary wildly, women at menopausal age are more susceptible to anxiety, which can lead to an attack. It’s common to panic about panicking, creating a vicious cycle!
For some women, hot flushes can also cause embarrassment which also leads to feelings of panic. If you’re worried about panic during the menopause, watch your intake of brain stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Breathing exercises can also help us calm down, offsetting the physical symptoms of panic.
Hormonal changes during the menopause can result in a reduction in bone density, meaning that osteoporosis is very closely related to oestrogen deficiency. Supplementing with calcium and ensuring a balanced diet will do no harm here, but getting professional opinion is always recommended.
Supporting your body through the menopause
There we have it — the classic 34 symptoms of menopause. For many women, it’s a challenging journey from those first signs of menopause until their eventual subsistence; on average, signs of menopause can last for up to four years after you have your final period.
The good news? Every woman’s menopause is different. You may not experience many (or any!) of these symptoms other than menstrual cycle changes. If you do notice any, they might cause a problem for only a short period of time.
By ensuring a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise — as well as capping caffeine and alcohol consumption — we can offset many of these 34 signs of menopause. Needless to say, always consult with a medical professional if you’re particularly concerned.
To help your body on the way and give yourself the best possible chance of a smooth menopause journey, consider a supplement like Cleanmarine Menomin. It is specially formulated to provide all-in-one essential nutritional support for women during the menopause — we’re talking phytonutrients, superior omega 3 and beneficial B vitamin and biotin blends.