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What are the symptoms of menopause?

a group of women talking
Menopause symptoms can vary widely from person to person. So if you're trying to figure out if what you're experiencing is menopause, read this article.
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms and there a number of different factors that can affect it. This includes things like your level of physical activity, BMI, smoking status, education, stress levels, social support networks, available health care, general health and dietary habits. But that’s not all, several studies have suggested that your ethnic background can also affect this.1,2   

Of course, menopause is different for everyone and personal to you. Regardless of ethnicity, geographic location, or culture, all women who reach the age of 60 with reproductive organs intact will transition through the perimenopause to the menopause.

Research amongst GB women aged 40+ from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds revealed:  

  • Over half (51%) state they do not feel represented in the current menopause conversation which focuses on the experiences of white women.
  • Fifty-eight per cent of Pakistani women
  • Almost 7 in 10 (67%) Caribbean women
  • 53% of African women…think that the current spotlight in the media on menopause only focuses on the experiences of white women

So, do you think you might be going through menopause? Want to check if your symptoms are related to it? You’re in the right place.  

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the 34 main menopause signs and symptoms to help you understand what you’re experiencing. 

Find out more about menopause symptoms, from peri through to post, below. 

34 symptoms of the menopause

There are a wide range of menopause signs and symptoms, so to help you figure out if you’re going through it yourself, we’ve listed 34 of the most common ones here. Of course, the menopause is personal and different for everyone.

Plus, we’ll highlight if it’s a perimenopause, menopause or post-menopausal symptom so that you’ve got a little extra info on what to expect on your journey.3 Here are 34 of the symptoms of menopause:

  1. Changes to your periods – if your periods have become irregular, it could be the start of perimenopause. Changes to the heaviness of your flow may also be an indicator of this.
  2. Your periods have stopped – you’re only considered to be fully in menopause if you’ve experienced 12 months without any bleeding.
  3. Low mood – the lowering levels of oestrogen and progesterone can cause changes to your mood and cause you to be affected by things that wouldn’t normally affect you.4
  4. Anxiety – the same changes to your hormones that we just mentioned can also cause you to feel anxious.4
  5. Mood swings – similarly, you may experience that your mood can shift in a short space of time.4
  6. Low self-esteem – all the changes that come about during the menopause may leave you feeling low about yourself.5
  7. Brain fog – a very common symptom of menopause, brain fog can leave you feeling like your brain is made of ‘cotton wool’.6
  8. Memory issues – alongside brain fog, you may find that you’re a lot more forgetful and that you struggle to retain information.6
  9. Hot flushes (and dizziness) – hot flushes are probably the main symptom that we associate with transitioning into menopause. This is when you feel a sudden rush of heat along your upper body, but predominantly in the chest, neck and face.7
  10. Difficulty sleeping – experienced during perimenopause and full menopause, issues with sleeping are considered by experts to be pretty common.8  Take a look at our top tips for sleeping during the menopause.
  11. Heart palpitations – the change in hormones during menopause can also cause heart palpitations, which is when it feels like your heartbeat is going faster than normal.9
  12. Headaches or migraines – these are both experienced during peri and menopause due to the disruption in menstrual cycles.10
  13. Muscle aches – while the menopause may not be the only cause of this symptom, muscle aches during the menopause may be caused by declining oestrogen levels.11
  14. Joint pains – as with muscle aches, joint pain during menopause may also be caused by declining oestrogen levels as there are oestrogen receptors in the joints.11
  15. Change in body shape – fat distribution in the body may be different when you reach menopause, as a lot of bodies’ change from a ‘pear’ shape to an ‘apple’ shape.12
  16. Weight gain – since hormone levels fluctuate during perimenopause, it can affect how fat is stored in the body, usually due to insulin resistance.13  If this is something you're concerned about, find out how to manage your weight.
  17. Dry skin – during menopause, your skin loses some of its ability to hold water, which can make it quite dry.14
  18. Itchy skin – oestrogen is an important feature of skin physiology, playing a role in collagen production and oil regulation, so when this changes it can leave your skin feeling dry and itchy.15
  19. Reduced libido – the lowering of hormone levels can cause you to develop a low sex drive.16  Take a look at what really happens during sex and the menopause.
  20. Vaginal dryness – again, the change in your hormone levels can leave you with vaginal dryness.17  We've put together tips on how to help vaginal dryness.
  21. Vaginal pain – a lot of women experience vaginismus during menopause, which is where the vaginal muscles spasm causing pain or a burning sensation.18  Vaginal atrophy can sometimes cause pain during sex - find out how to manage it here.
  22. Vaginal itching – vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) is also experienced during menopause, which can cause an itching sensation.18
  23. Discomfort during sex – as oestrogen levels fall, the vaginal tissues can start to thin which can cause pain during intercourse.19
  24. Recurrent UTIs – especially common in postmenopause, frequently recurring urinary tract infections are experienced by a lot of women during and after menopause.20
  25. Tingling in hands or feet – otherwise known as paresthesia, you may experience a feeling like pins and needs in your extremities during menopause.21
  26. Burning mouth – otherwise known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS), this is something that affects 18-33% of people going through menopause.22
  27. Changes in taste – and smell, this is another symptom reported by lots of people during and after menopause, and it is likely caused by fluctuating oestrogen levels.23
  28. Fatigue – this dramatic fluctuation of hormones can also lead to sleep disturbances and thus fatigue, and it can be experienced from perimenopause through to postmenopause.24
  29. Bloating – both oestrogen and progesterone have an impact on body fluid regulation, which can lead to bloating.25
  30. Digestive issues – a lot of people report increased gastrointestinal symptoms from as early as perimenopause, whether they already had conditions like IBS or not.26  Here are some of the best and worst foods to eat during menopause.
  31. Electric shock sensations – this is another commonly reported symptom experienced by those going through menopause.27
  32. Hair thinning – as oestrogen levels fall, it is thought that androgen levels rise, which may lead to androgenic hair loss.28  Here's some ways to support your skin during the menopause, including hair.
  33. Brittle nails – changes in hormone levels are thought to cause dehydration in the body, which can then lead to brittle nails.29
  34. Overactive bladder – this symptom is experienced from peri through to postmenopause.30

The list of menopause symptoms can actually include more than we’ve mentioned here, as you may also experience things like increased allergies, changes to body odour and many other symptoms as well. 

Of course, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many symptoms are a direct result of menopause. Also, some of these symptoms may not be due to the menopause so it’s important to discuss with a health professional. 

What can you do about these symptoms?

While experiencing a lot of these symptoms can be unpleasant, thankfully there are a number of ways you can help to manage them. Check out our article with a range of tips for managing menopause for a more detailed look. And as always, please speak to your GP about your symptoms, as they should be able to help with your experience.  

 

Find out about The Women's Health Community Fund

As part of our Every Menopause Matters campaign, we’ve partnered with leading women’s health charity, Wellbeing of Women, to launch ‘The Women’s Health Community Fund’ which will provide resources to individuals and groups in under-served communities with a specific focus on those from lower income families, ethnically diverse communities, those with disabilities and LGBTQ+, to raise awareness and provide information on menopause in the way that best reaches and serves the needs of their community.

Find out more about this initiative here

 

Supporting you through menopause

The final say

Feeling a little more clued up about menopause symptoms? If you’re looking for support with managing or identifying your symptoms, try booking in with one of our expert advisors for a consultation. 

Research amongst GB women aged 40+ from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds revealed that more than one in ten (15%) say being able to speak to a GP/ health professional in their own language would make a positive difference.

That’s why we’ve made sure that our online appointments are available with menopause trained advisors who natively speak Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati and Hindi. Book your consultation online and together, we can navigate your unique menopause journey.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 772 40+ Female BAME respondents out of which 650 respondents are in any menopausal period or are unsure. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th May - 7th June 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted to be representative of GB BAME women aged 40+.

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033753/  
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.2217/17455057.5.2.127 
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/  
  4. https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/womens-health/later-years-around-50-years-and-over/menopause-and-post-menopause-health/menopause-and-your-mental-wellbeing  
  5. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/poor-self-image-and-changes-in-your-partner  
  6. https://www.themenopausecharity.org/2021/10/21/brain-fog/  
  7. https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/symptoms-menopause-hot-flushes  
  8. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/women-sleep/menopause-and-sleep  
  9. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/women/menopause-and-your-heart  
  10. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hormone-headaches/  
  11. https://www.mymenopausecentre.com/symptoms/muscle-aches-and-pain/  
  12. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/changes-at-midlife/changes-in-weight-and-fat-distribution  
  13. https://www.liverpoolwomens.nhs.uk/media/3538/menopause-and-weight-gain-patient-information-leaflet.pdf  
  14. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/anti-aging/skin-care-during-menopause  
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685269/  
  16. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/loss-of-libido/  
  17. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaginal-dryness/  
  18. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/vaginal-discomfort  
  19. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/sexual-problems-at-midlife/pain-with-penetration  
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24336244/  
  21. http://www.bridgewater.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/The-Menopause-what-to-expect-when-you-are-expecting-the-menopause.pdf   
  22. https://www.themenopausecharity.org/2021/04/24/burning-mouth-syndrome-bms/ 
  23. https://www.mymenopausecentre.com/symptoms/changes-to-taste-and-smell/ 
  24. https://www.nhsemployers.org/system/files/2022-03/Fatigue%20%26%20Menopause%20Leaflet.pdf 
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984489/  
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322543/ 
  27. https://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/for-staff/resources/human-resources/menopause-at-work/symptoms-of-menopause 
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828511/ 
  29. https://www.healthcentre.org.uk/menopause/brittle-nails-in-menopause.html 
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352916/  
 
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