By Rachel Lankester
So you want to know about the 34 symptoms of menopause huh! You’re in the right place. Here’s the full list.
Some people say there are even more (yikes) but this is the usual list. But why not just throw the kitchen sink in there for good measure! Take a look but don’t get too scared! The most common symptoms have a * next to them.
Read on at the bottom of the list because I’m going to explain how these aren’t really symptoms OF menopause at all! They’re actually something quite different. So stay tuned….
- Hot flushes/flashes*
- Night sweats*
- Irregular periods*
- Mood swings*
- Vaginal dryness*
- Decreased libido*
- Breast soreness
- Burning mouth
- Joint pain
- Digestive problems
- Electric shocks
- Muscle tension
- Gum problems
- Tingling extremities
- Itchy skin
- Disrupted sleep*
- Hair loss
- Memory lapses*
- Difficulty concentrating*
- Weight gain*
- Dizzy spells
- Stress incontinence
- Brittle nails
- Irregular heartbeat
- Body odour
- Panic disorder
This is the full scary list and you are UNLIKELY to suffer the majority of these. If you do suffer badly, then it’s your body telling you something needs addressing. That could be something physical or emotional.
You may experience these ‘symptoms’ for a few months, several years, or NO TIME AT ALL! But what are all these things on the list if they’re not the 34 symptoms OF menopause? (I promise I’m not having you on here!)
You see, the only actual symptom or sign of menopause is the cessation of your menstrual cycle. All the others on that big scary list are symptoms ASSOCIATED with menopause.
They can all be triggered by changes in our hormones. But there’s probably an underlying cause to the symptoms which is revealed once the protection of our reproductive hormones starts to drop. If they were symptoms OF menopause, most woman would likely get them, but we all go through menopause very differently.
If you’ve always been a bit anxious, you may find you’re more so during menopause. If you’ve always had trouble sleeping, that may get worse. Some of the symptoms on the list rarely happen.
Some are common but not normal! If they were normal symptoms of menopause we would all have them and we don’t. Some of us barely notice anything.
I urge you to think of menopause symptoms as the canary in the coalmine, warning you that you need to make diet and lifestyle changes to stay healthy long term. Thank you menopause!
Is menopause really to blame?
It’s easy to attribute all these changes to menopause but actually it could also be because our bodies are just getting older. For example, sadness might come because we’re languishing in the happiness U-curve which bottoms out in our 40s, or we’re fed up with the life we have and relationships that no longer fulfill us and make us irritable.
Maybe we’ve bought into all the negative narratives about midlife, menopause and getting older as a woman (as I did at 41 which is when I was told I’d gone through early menopause), and that’s causing us to be both anxious and depressed. We may also have an overload of unnatural toxic products in our lives that are causing our bodies to be hormonally challenged.
To find out more about all these potential other issues impacting our hormones, as well as the many products in our environment that can impact hormonal balance, for example, listen to my wonderful podcast with naturopath Angela Counsel, or read the transcription of that fabulously informative interview here.
Menopause gets blamed for a lot and it’s not necessarily to blame. Weight gain may speed up around menopause with hormonal changes, but fundamentally it happens because our metabolism slows down as our muscle mass naturally declines with age. If we make sure to do weight lifting to maintain our declining muscle mass, we can reverse that trend.
Often it’s a hot flush/flash that alerts women to changes happening in their bodies. Sometimes there’s an overwhelming feeling of sadness and many women are prescribed anti-depressants when what they really need is a bit more hormonal balance in their lives. Or those negative midlife narratives have taken hold, not to mention ageism kicking in.
Or maybe it’s a sudden inability to shift those extra pounds that alerts you to changes. As we age, if we continue consuming and behaving as we’ve always done, we’re bound to put on weight and find it more difficult to shift it.
Many women fear they have early onset Alzheimer’s because they feel they are getting a bit more forgetful or less able to concentrate. But no, it’s just hormonal changes. Good to know huh!
If you’ve had a child, think pregnancy brain. You may have had difficulty sleeping while pregnant and the same may happen during menopause. It’s all caused by hormonal changes.
It’s just that no one talks about menopause, it’s still taboo, we’re not prepared for it, we don’t know how to take better care of ourselves and it can all go on for rather a long time!
Just for clarity, I’m talking here about symptoms associated with a natural menopause. If yours has come very early or been caused by illness or surgery in particular, then the sudden change in your hormones may lead to more of these symptoms occurring – but also not necessarily.
One woman I know had a hysterectomy in her mid 50s and the only symptom she suffered afterwards was trouble sleeping which she fixed with tapping meditation.
Managing and embracing your menopause
If you’d like to know about lots of natural ways to balance your hormones now and set you up for good general health long-term, check out our article on Natural Remedies For Menopause – All You Need To Know. You’ll find lots more resources too if you look in the menopause section of this website.
When it comes to menopause, don’t expect the worst but also don’t suffer in silence. Get the help you need. The real trick is to embrace menopause as a natural process that actually empowers you. We’ve been working with our wombs all our lives. Midlife is not the time to start fighting them and the essence of our feminine power.
But many women can get a bit stuck thinking menopause is the end of meaningful life. After all that’s what the media and society seems to want us to believe. If that’s how you’re feeling, JUST STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!
Be more whale – the only other creatures to go through menopause, who then become leaders of their pods! When we go through menopause, we become more valuable to our communities as leaders than as breeders. Find out more about this in Let’s Be More Whale.
If you want to hear more about the magic of menopause listen to my podcast interview with the amazing Darcy Steinke who was the first to alert me to whales becoming leaders post menopause. She wrote the book Flash Count Diary.
At Magnificent Midlife we’re all about challenging stereotypes and changing perceptions. We think of midlife and menopause as a time of re-evaluation and regeneration as we embark on the exciting second half of our lives. I hope you agree.
Good luck! Don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can help you further. You can find out more about my work at magnificentmidlife.com
Why not check out Rachel’s workshop on Natural Menopause. Click here to check out our courses page.
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Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an early menopause at 41, she has spent the last decade helping women vibrantly transition through midlife, including researching the many natural ways to help us cope better with menopause. She’s had several careers, including banking and PR, but most loves what she’s doing now – helping like-minded women in midlife and beyond feel great and live life to the fullest. She believes we just get better with age not worse.