There are as many as 34 symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. Yes, you read that correctly!
While 34 symptoms of menopause may sound like a lot, this highlights just how unique each woman’s menopausal experience really is. It also shows how wide-reaching the symptoms of menopause can be.
What is menopause?
Menopause is a single point in time that marks 12 months after your last menstrual period. This typically occurs between the ages of 45-55.
Prior to this, you are in perimenopause, the 2-12 year period before menopause. Perimenopause has its own signs and symptoms and typically happens in four stages.
Even though menopause itself is a moment in time, the symptoms associated with menopause can be long lasting.
The 34 symptoms of menopause
Let’s look at the 34 symptoms of menopause, starting with the 10 most common symptoms.
The 10 most common symptoms
Hot flushes – Hot flushes are one of the most common of the 34 symptoms of menopause. They can feel like flushing or tingling, and some women even experience shivering too.
Night sweats – It can be common in both perimenopause and menopause to suffer from night sweats. This can in turn disrupt sleep and impact energy levels during the day.
Libido changes – Fluctuating hormones in perimenopause and the eventual lowering of sex hormones in menopause can result in libido changes and loss of sex drive.
Anxiety – Anxiety can begin in perimenopause due to the drop in progesterone. This can continue into menopause too.
Weight gain – Weight gain around the middle is common in perimenopause and menopause because of the change in hormone levels and increased risk of insulin resistance. Read more about weight gain and hormones.
Vaginal dryness – Vaginal dryness or pain during sex is a common symptom due to lowering estrogen levels.
Memory difficulties – Due to the lowering of estrogen, and as a result of this the lowering of choline, memory can be impacted in menopause.
Trouble sleeping – Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is a common feature in menopause. There are several reasons for this; for some women, increased anxiety, night sweats, and hot flushes can impact sleep quality.
Fatigue – low energy is a common experience in menopause; this can be related to external stress, disturbed sleep or stress caused by symptoms.
Irregular periods – Irregular periods are a common symptom of perimenopause and normal in the lead up to menopause.
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The Remaining 34 symptoms of menopause
Headaches – Headaches and migraines are common throughout perimenopause and menopause. They often result from hormonal changes such as low estrogen and low progesterone.
Joint pain – Joint pain can be common as you move from perimenopause into menopause. Estrogen protects joints and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory; therefore, there is often increased joint pain with the lowering of oestrogen.
Gum problems – Gum problems are common in menopause, resulting in increased cavities and gum disease. You may also experience a dry mouth and/or a metallic taste.
Changes in taste – Interestingly, it can be common to experience a change of taste in menopause, including feeling that tastes are stronger.
Breast tenderness or pain – This is common in the menopause and is due to the fluctuations of your hormones.
Burning mouth – Like gum problems, a lack of saliva due to hormonal changes can cause a burning sensation in the mouth. This can cause pain and discomfort for many women.
Muscle pain – As we saw with joint pain, oestrogen can act as an anti-inflammatory and therefore, with the lowering of estrogen, there can be an experience of increased muscle pain and tension.
Bloating – It can be common due to hormonal changes to experience digestive symptoms like bloating.
Digestive disturbances – Alongside bloating, some women may also experience bowel changes and other digestive symptoms. This can be because for a number of reasons, but the changing of your sex hormone levels can impact the microbiome.
New food sensitivities or allergies – This can be common in perimenopause due to high fluctuating estrogen and histamine. In menopause, it can more commonly be caused by lowering immune function due to lowering oestrogen. Read more about histamine and hormones.
Itchy skin – Itchy skin can be a common experience in menopause. This again is connected to the lowering of estrogen. Estrogen supports skin health and collagen levels. The skin has a tendency to become drier in menopause, which results in it becoming itchy.
Tingling – You may suffer from tingling or pins and needles sensation in menopause due to the hormone levels impacting your nervous system.
Overactive bladder – This can be experienced as an increased need to empty your bladder.
Electric shock – This symptom of menopause is commonly experienced right before a hot flush. It is suspected to occur when hormone levels impact the nervous system.
Hair loss or thinning – This can be a common symptom of menopause, but it can be accelerated in menopause. Hormone changes cause hair follicles to shrink.
Trouble concentrating – This is very common alongside poor memory in menopause. It can be contributed to by poor sleep, lowering estrogen and stress.
Dizziness – This can be experienced as dizzy spells. Typically this can be due to the insulin protective properties of progesterone and estrogen, resulting in an increased risk of insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalance.
Depression – Of the 34 symptoms of menopause, mood symptoms are the most commonly reported and depression in particular is a common experience. This can be due to the lowering of oestrogen, which can lower serotonin levels. But it can also be contributed to by poor sleep, frustration with symptoms and feeling out of control.
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Heart palpitations – It is a common symptom in menopause to experience heart palpitations. This can be due to increased anxiety experienced from dropping progesterone which increases anxiety.
Body odour – Increased sweating alongside hot flushes and night sweats is common to have increased body odour.
Brittle nails – Lowering estrogen levels can lead to drier and more brittle nails.
Increased irritability – Due to changing hormone levels, it can be common to experience increased irritability and also feelings of rage.
Increased risk of panic disorders – This is also linked to dropping levels of serotonin in relation to estrogen and the lowering of progesterone.
Increased risk of osteoporosis – There is an increased risk of osteoporosis in menopause due to the lowering of estrogen, which can cause increased bone loss.
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Inayat, K., Danish, N., & Hassan, L. (2017). Symptoms Of Menopause In Peri And Postmenopausal Women And Their Attitude Towards Them. Journal of Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad: JAMC, 29(3), 477–480.
MonteleP., Mascagni, G., Giannini, A., Genazzani, A. R., & Simoncini, T. (2018). Symptoms of menopause – global prevalence, physiology and implications. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 14(4), 199–215. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2017.180
Santoro, N., Epperson, C. N., & Mathews, S. B. (2015). Menopausal Symptoms and Their Management. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America, 44(3), 497–515. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecl.2015.05.001