40 menopause symptoms and signs
Menopause is the end of the reproductive era of a woman’s life that is characterized by drastic changes in her emotional and physical aspects. Studies have identified around 40 signs and symptoms of menopause, but not every woman gets all of them. Most women suffer from only a few of these symptoms and do not need any treatment. But for the symptoms that become intolerable, there are effective therapies to relieve them.
- Irregular periods: Irregular periods around the typical menopausal age (45 to 55 years) are usually the first clue to menopause. These periods may be heavier than normal.
- Hot flashes: Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth on the upper part of the body normally accompanied by redness. These affect around 75% of menopausal women.
- Night sweats: Night sweats are periods of sweating occurring at night.
- Vaginal dryness: Lack of estrogen reduces blood supply to the vagina. This results in thinning (atrophy) of the vagina and vaginal dryness.
- Painful sex/discomfort during sex: A dry and thin vagina may cause painful penetration.
- Decreased sexual drive: Estrogen is the major hormone responsible for controlling a woman’s sexual drive. Decreased estrogen levels can affect a woman’s sexual drive. This is worsened by accompanying disturbances in sleep and mood swings.
- Mood swings: While their bodies adjust to the dip in hormone levels, some women experience mood swings when they suddenly feel irritable or depressed.
- Anxiety: With the changes in hormone levels, menopausal women may notice increased feelings of anxiety.
- Panic attacks: Fluctuating hormones around menopause (perimenopause) and during menopause can cause panic attacks.
- Depression: Depression is four times more likely to affect menopausal women than menstruating women.
- Sleep disturbances: Anxiety, night sweats or mood swings can lead to disturbed sleep.
- Fatigue: Fatigue is a common symptom for many postmenopausal women.
- Difficulty concentrating: Lack of sleep affects health and makes women feel tired. This may cause trouble with focus and reduced concentration.
- Forgetfulness: Poor sleep and reduced estrogen levels can result in foggy memory.
- Headaches: Women who have experienced headaches during their periods are more likely to experience them during menopause.
- Stress incontinence: Stress incontinence is the involuntary passing of a small amount of urine while sneezing or lifting heavy weights due to postmenopausal loss of bladder control.
- Urge incontinence: Urge incontinence, a sudden and frequent urge to urinate, is due to an overactive bladder.
- Nocturia: Women with postmenopausal bladder control problems may have to get up in the middle of the night due to the urge to urinate.
- Painful urination: Some women feel urethral pain while urinating.
- Hair loss/thinning: Hormone levels do influence hair growth. With menopause, many women experience hair loss and thinning.
- Weight gain: Some women experience weight gain after menopause that is triggered by lower levels of estrogen. The good news is that this weight gain is reversible and can usually be controlled by healthy eating and doing physical activities.
- Joint pain/muscle ache: As estrogen levels affect the joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles women may experience joint pains and muscle aches during menopause.
- Breast tenderness/soreness: Drastic fluctuations in hormone levels can cause breasts to become sore or tender.
- Dryness of mouth: A decrease in saliva secretion induced by low estrogen levels can cause dryness of the mouth.
- Digestive problems: Major hormonal changes seen in menopause can lead to stomach upset such as bloating, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea.
- Osteoporosis: This is a drop in bone density by more than 20% and it can increase the risk of fractures.
- Increase in aches and pains: Menopause can intensify pain levels in chronic conditions such as migraine.
- Body odor: This may occur due to sweating and hormone changes.
- Gum problems: This may result due to a loss of bone mass in and around the teeth.
- Burning mouth syndrome: This is a hot sensation that affects the tongue, lips, cheeks, and mouth.
- Brittle nails
- Facial hair growth
- Dry skin
- Dry eyes
- Tingling sensations in the extremities
- Electric shock-like sensations
- Dizzy attacks
- Frequent allergies: Poor immune system due to hormonal changes can make women prone to colds and flu.
- Irregular heartbeat/racing heart
- Lack of motivation
Kraft, Sheryl. "Menopause and Panic Attacks: What's the Connection?" HealthyWomen.org. Oct. 9, 2018. <https://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/menopause-and-panic-attacks-whats-connection>.
Mutneja P, Dhawan P, Raina A, Sharma G. "Menopause and the oral cavity." Indian J Endocrinol Metab 16.4 July 2012: 548-51. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.98007. PMID: 22837914; PMCID: PMC3401754. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22837914/>.
"Postmenopause." Cleveland Clinic. Oct. 5, 2021. <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15224-menopause-perimenopause-and-postmenopause>.
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