We understand if reading the phrase “34 symptoms of menopause” is a bit scary, but try to take a deep breath and calm your fears. That number is floating around as an incredibly broad range of the things that might happen.
That said, it’s always a good idea to see what could be in store for us when the time comes. Let’s start with some of the most common menopause symptoms:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
- Decreased libido
- Joint pain
- Memory lapses
- Difficulty sleeping
It’s important to emphasize that this isn’t a checklist and it’s unlikely you’ll experience every single one of these problems. They are just the most frequently discussed issues by those going through “the change.”
In fact, some lucky ones out there might not notice any symptoms at all — and the rest of us will have to do our best not to be insanely jealous of them.
What are the 34 symptoms of menopause?
The list gets closer to 34 symptoms of menopause with ever-growing reports of more nuanced issues.
In fact, the number is actually bigger if we take into account those listed above and each unique problem that might pop up, like: bladder infections, incontinence, digestion issues, bloating, thinning hair on head, new hair growth on body, change in body odor, dry mouth, burning tongue, painful gums, sore breasts, loss of breast fullness, dry skin, acne, inability to focus, brain fog, dizziness, headaches, anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue, electric shocks, tingling sensations, new allergies, heart palpitations, and bone density loss… We could go on and on.
It’s a lot to consider, but having an idea of just how drastic some of the symptoms of menopause can be will also go a long way in helping prepare for and manage them. And again, we cannot stress this enough, you will likely only experience a fraction of those listed (which is still plenty).
What are the worst menopause symptoms?
The side effects of menopause are different for everyone, but hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and weight gain are the issues women most often complain about.
These symptoms also tend to overlap and heighten other frustrations, like hot flashes keeping you awake at night and causing fatigue, brain fog, and inability to focus in the next day. Vaginal dryness can obviously make us feel less in the mood for romance, causing our libido to dip. Dealing with sudden weight gain can also not just be annoying while trying to fit into our favorite clothes, but affect emotional and mental health as we cope with a changing appearance.
Fortunately, there are home remedies available that can help ease the base of those problems, like wild yam cream for hot flashes, lubricants for vaginal dryness, and supplements for hormonal weight gain. It’s all about finding what works best for you, so there will likely be some trial and error before you discover the solutions you need.
You may have also picked up on a few particularly ominous symptoms on that list, like electric shocks. These unexpected jolts throughout the body are likely due to the estrogen fluctuations affecting the nervous system. The good news is that they’re usually harmless, just alarming if you don’t know why they’re suddenly happening. Experts recommend making sure to stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep to reduce their likelihood.
Another one that sounds especially terrifying: Burning tongue. Hot flashes are one thing, but in your mouth? Not fun! According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine it’s caused by the hormonal imbalance decreasing our saliva production, which can then create a metallic taste and dry mouth that add up to feeling like your tongue is on fire. More research needs to be done, but as of now, researchers recommend discussing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with your doctor to help ease this burning issue.
With so many potential symptoms that can vary in their degrees of intensity, it’s difficult to say which others are also going to be “the worst.” But in all cases, keeping an open dialogue with your doctor will be the best way to tamp them down.
How bad can menopause make you feel?
There is no predicting how menopause will affect each individual person, but it is unfortunately likely to make everyone going through it feel pretty rundown. Aside from the physical issues that can cause pain and discomfort, your mental and emotional well-being may also take a toll.
We aren’t just talking about hormonal mood swings, but memory lapses, lack of sleep, and uncertainty about what new symptom might rear its head next can cause depression and anxiety. Again, it’s important to discuss those issues with your doctor just as you would any other symptom.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom! It might sound impossible to imagine, but there are a few possible changes during menopause that aren’t awful, like shrinking fibroids or an increased libido.
And once it’s all said in done, there’s the obvious perk of never having to deal with periods again — or the emotional and physical symptoms that came with them each month. You’ll also probably find yourself with a refreshed outlook on life, renewed sense of freedom, and revitalized confidence. As anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “There is no greater power in the world than the zest of a postmenopausal woman.”
How do I know if I’m going through the menopause?
Changes in your period will be the biggest indicator that you are already going through menopause. Perimenopause, which occurs months or years before menopause, can cause your period to get closer together or farther apart, depending on your hormone levels.
The sure sign you’ve entered into full menopause mode will be when you’ve gone a full 12 months without Aunt Flo stopping by. It can take years for your body to make this transition, usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55. Of course, menopause loves nothing if not being unpredictable, so it might begin earlier or later than that for some.
What Menopause Does to Your Body:
The wide array of potential symptoms is because estrogen is used throughout several areas of our body. So, as it starts to diminish, our systems can get understandably confused and react in ways we’ve never experienced.
John Hopkins University explains that along with regulating menstrual cycles, estrogen plays a role in maintaining healthy reproductive tracts, urinary tracts, heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and brains. That’s a lot of functions for the hormone to fade away from.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may help provide more balance, but it isn’t recommended for everyone. For example, it is no longer advised as a way to prevent heart disease in menopausal women. You should discuss all treatment options with your doctor.
What is the last stage of menopause?
The last stage of menopause is known as postmenopause. At this point, you will have gone without a period for well over a year and estrogen levels remain low rather than fluctuating up and down. The latter means that all of those symptoms we’ve gone over should also start to ease up (yay!).
There are other concerns to keep in mind once you are postmenopausal, though. The University of Utah Health Hospitals and Clinics recommends keeping a close eye on heart, bone, urinary, sexual, and metabolic health — especially if you experienced particularly difficult symptoms in those areas while still going through menopause.
The moral of the story: Yes, menopause will most likely be difficult at times, but it won’t last forever! And giving yourself and idea of what to expect will hopefully ease the transition and keep us in the best shape to enjoy long, healthy lives once it’s over.