What are the main symptoms of menopause?
Updated: Mar 25
Up to 80% of all women will have some menopausal symptoms which can affect your body and your mind - physically, mentally and emotionally - while a lucky few sail through the menopause, noticing only that their periods have stopped.
There are 34 symptoms to look out for as signs that you are approaching menopause:
Hot flushes: One of the most common symptoms of menopause, hot flushes affect around 80% of menopausal women. Hot flushes normally appear as a rising redness on the chest, neck and face and can make you feel very overheated and sweaty. Find out how to manage them here.
Night sweats: essentially, night sweats are hot flushes that occur at night and can disrupt sleep or can lead you to feeling unpleasant when you wake up.
Erratic periods: because menopause signifies the end of your reproductive years, your periods will start to dissipate as your hormone production decreases. Your periods can become very irregular and difficult to predict, sometimes you may even get PMS but with no bleeding.
Mood swings: studies show that mood swings affect 27% of menopausal women, this can feel like a more extreme version of the mood swings you may have experienced during your periods. You can find our top tips for managing mood changes here.
Vaginal dryness: natural lubrication is maintained by your oestrogen levels, so as these begin to drop, you may notice vaginal dryness. This can cause some pain and discomfort, particularly during sex. Thankfully, there are a number of remedies for this, including lubricants and moisturising creams
Decreased libido: while a man’s sex drive is largely controlled by testosterone, a woman’s is primarily controlled by oestrogen. As we’ve already established, these levels drastically drop during menopause, which can reduce your sex drive - find out here how to reconnect with yourself and your partner.
Headaches: are also caused by fluctuating hormones and are typically more common for women who experienced them during their periods. You can get some quick relief from over the counter remedies, but if headaches persist then you may be suffering from migraines and should visit your doctor. Find out more here.
Breast soreness: any time in your life when your hormones drastically change can create the same symptoms; this is typically menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. So while breasts can become sore while on your period or pregnant, it can also happen during menopause.
Burning mouth: is not quite as common as some of the other symptoms, but decreased levels of saliva during menopause can lead to what’s known as ‘burning mouth syndrome’. This is a hot sensation that affects the tongue, lips, cheeks and roof of the mouth.
Joint pain: does not always signal arthritis, but the menopause is a common time for women to develop musculoskeletal symptoms. Find out more about testing for osteoporosis here.
Tummy troubles: your digestive system is one of the most sensitive systems in your body and is often the first thing to get disrupted due to any major changes to your body (new medications, new foods, nervousness). Changes to hormones are another major body change that can lead to stomach upsets such as bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and cramps. You may want to make changes to your diet, such as cutting down on specific foods to accommodate.
Electric shocks: because of the erratic changes going on in your body during menopause, you may notice that you experience more electric shocks. It’s also common to get these just before a hot flush.
Muscle tension: can often be closely linked to stress and anxiety and presents itself as a feeling of tightness in the muscles, like a strain. Women often find relief in massage and guided relaxation practices.
Gum problems: affect between 10 and 40 percent of menopausal women, gum problems are often accompanied by a metallic taste in the mouth.
Tingling extremities: not overly common but a tingling sensation can appear on any part of the body. This is usually in the feet, hands, arms and legs.
Itchy skin: low oestrogen levels can also lead to low collagen levels. Collagen is responsible for keeping skin plump, firm and healthy so with less of it, you may notice that skin can become thing, dry and itchy. Be sure to combat this with a regular skincare routine.
Fatigue: is unfortunately one of the more common symptoms of menopause, many women will notice a feeling of extreme tiredness which can cause problems at work and at home.
Anxiety: along with mood swings, menopausal women may notice increased feelings of anxiety. As many as one in three women experience this during menopause. To help calm feelings of anxiety, you could try a guided meditation or a herbal supplement.
Sleep changes: because of all the changes going on in your body (as well as the other menopausal symptoms), you may also experience disrupted sleep and insomnia. Find our top tips on how to manage insomnia naturally here.
Hair loss: whilst most people are aware that men are likely to loose their hair as they get older, not everyone realises that women can experience this too. Menopause can act as an accelerator to hair loss, making it more brittle and leaving it looking thinner.
Memory lapses: these are usually only temporary but memory lapses can occur during menopause, but some women worry that they signify early-onset Alzheimers. Try some brain training exercises to strengthen cognitive function.
Difficulty concentrating: the brain doesn’t work as hard during menopause because oestrogen is the hormone that pushes it to burn glucose for energy. With lower levels of oestrogen, you end up with a lack of focus and concentration.
Weight gain: many women notice weight gain when they start taking the contraceptive pill, caused by a major change in hormones. The major change in hormones during menopause can also cause weight gain but this can usually be combated by healthy eating and exercising. Here are some more top tips to help.
Dizzy spells: vertigo and feeling dizzy during menopause are thought to be caused by the drop in oestrogen production. They should gradually subside in time.
Bloating: usually occurs right at the start of your menopause and could even be one of the first symptoms you notice. If you’re still having periods but are constantly feeling bloated then this could be a hint that your menopause is coming.
Stress incontinence: a lot of women will already have experience incontinence as a result of childbirth, but this can increase around menopause. However, this could be more related to age than the actual menopausal process. Pelvic trainers such as elvie can help.
Brittle nails: lower oestrogen levels and dehydration can leave your nails feeling brittle and can make them snap or break more easily. If ever there was a time to treat yourself to regular manicures this is it.
Allergies: although you may have never had them, allergies and intolerances may suddenly appear during the menopause, this is because hormones are very closely linked to our immune system.
Irregular heartbeat: lower oestrogen levels can overstimulate the nervous system and circulatory system, which can, in turn, lead to heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat. This is normal, but if it's of concern consider speaking to your GP.
Body odour: not only can the menopause make you sweat more, but the changes in hormones can also change your natural scent (much like at puberty).
Irritability: your hormones play a large role in contributing to your emotions and the fluctuation can lead to feelings of sadness or irritability. You can use our free tracking tool to track your mood - sign up to be notified when we launch.
Depression: in more extreme cases, this change in emotions can lead to depression. Depression is four times more likely to affect women of a menopausal age than a woman below the age of 45. Consider speaking to your GP if your mood has been persistently low for over two weeks.
Panic disorder: menopausal women are actually more susceptible to panic attacks than almost anyone else. There are many natural remedies that can help with panic disorder such as calms, or consider a meditation.
Osteoporosis: bone density can drop by up to 20% after the menopause, which puts you at risk of osteoporosis. Be sure to look after your bones with a healthy balanced diet and calcium supplements.
Although it may sound like no walk in the park, not every woman will experience all 34 symptoms of menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy is an effective but somewhat controversial treatment to keep symptoms at bay and make the five to ten years that menopause lasts, more bearable. Complementary techniques such as accupuncture, hypnosis, and talk therapies can also be effective.
There are many ways that you can help relieve symptoms by treating both mind and body together. With alina, you can get a completely personalised, expert-approved and clinically backed treatment plan for free. Find out more here.