Shocked that there are 34 symptoms of menopause? Most people are. After all, there has been an incredible gap in menopause education and it’s not something we were taught in science, health, or even sex education classes. While there are 34 signs of menopause, it doesn’t mean you will experience them all as everyone’s experience of menopause is unique. You may experience a few and even others that aren’t on this list.
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What are the signs of menopause?
Menopause is defined as a single point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. For many women, this day goes by without them realizing, especially if using hormonal contraception.
Most women go through menopause in their early 50s, but estrogen levels begin to decrease up to 10 years before. During this time, you may experience some of the 34 symptoms of menopause. Read more about the stages of menopause.
Early or surgical menopause
Menopause doesn’t just happen in your 50s. Premature Menopause is when your periods stop before age 40. Early menopause is when your periods stop before the age of 45.
Menopause can occur spontaneously, or after surgery to remove your ovaries or following certain cancer treatments. Read our guide to induced and surgical menopause.
How are the 34 menopause symptoms grouped together?
When it comes to the menopause symptoms list, symptoms are separated into the following groups:
- Vasomotor (neural and vascular): Hot flashes, night sweats, chills, and heart palpitations are vasomotor symptoms because they are primarily caused by blood vessels dilating or contracting. As your hormone levels change during menopause, your body becomes more sensitive to temperature changes and your internal temperature control can malfunction. This causes your body to dilate or contract blood vessels to try and control body temperature.
- Psychological (mental): Menopause is often described as a physical change, yet hormones have a massive impact on your mind, altering how you feel. Symptoms include mood swings, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, anger, and low confidence.
- Somatic (physical): In addition to vasomotor, other symptoms can affect your whole body, including headaches, joint pain, sleep issues, weight gain, and more. Changing hormone levels in your body can change its appearance, function, and sensation.
- Urogenital (sexual and pelvic floor): Your pelvic floor begins to weaken as you age, but this process can be exacerbated further as estrogen declines. Symptoms include painful sex, low libido, urinary incontinence, and vaginal discomfort.
Menopause symptoms checklist
1. Irregular and heavy periods
If your periods are becoming erratic or your flow is either lighter or heavier, you could be perimenopausal. If you have heavy or irregular periods, see your healthcare provider for a check-up to rule out any potentially treatable underlying causes.
You may also want to ask about treatment options, which include a hormone-releasing IUD. Mirena or Lilletta are the two brands approved for the treatment of heavy periods that can give relief from heavy bleeding.
If you are not using hormonal birth control that masks your periods, you can track your period frequency in the run-up to menopause. Your menopause has officially started after a year without a period. Read more about heavy periods during perimenopause or find out more about hormonal IUDs.
2. Hot flashes (Vasomotor)
A hot flash feels like a wave of heat flowing through your body and you may experience a red face and chest as your blood vessels dilate to cool you down. Out of the 34 symptoms of menopause, many women find hot flashes cause the most embarrassment and stress, especially at work. Learn more about hot flashes in our symptoms library.
3. Night sweats (Vasomotor)
Suddenly being woken from sleep dripping wet with sweat and soaked bedclothes can be intensely frustrating and disruptive, leaving you exhausted the next day. Among the 34 symptoms of menopause, night sweats are one of the most common. See your healthcare provider if your symptoms persist. Read more about sweating.
4. Heart palpitations (Vasomotor)
You may notice your heart is suddenly beating fast, pounding, or fluttering during your menopause journey. Sometimes this symptom accompanies a hot flash or panic attack. While they may make you feel worried, they are usually harmless – talk to your healthcare provider if they are happening to you. Reducing caffeine, alcohol, smoking and vaping can help keep your heart rate steady. Read more about heart palpitations in our symptoms library.
5.Mood swings (Psychological)
Hormones affect a woman’s mood from teenage years through to postmenopause. A decline in the estrogen hormone during menopause can alter the way you process serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, your happiness hormones. This can make it harder to process and regulate your emotions. Nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management are important areas to focus on when you are feeling out of sorts or struggling with mood changes.
6. Depression, unhappiness and loss of interest (Psychological)
Those changes to serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine can also contribute to feeling depressed or unhappy. You may feel flat, exhausted, and that you’ve lost interest in things that used to give joy. Evidence indicates women who’ve experienced depression in the past may be more likely to have depressive symptoms during menopause. Learn more about depression.
Talk to your healthcare provider for advice and support, and seek emergency help if you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
7. Anxiety and tension (Psychological)
Many report anxiety as one of the main 34 symptoms of menopause that they experience. Some describe it as having a constant feeling of being overwhelmed, tension, and nervousness. Perhaps your anxiety is linked to the worry about another symptom striking, such as hot flashes or brain fog. The good news is therapy, exercise, and mindfulness can help. Learn more about anxiety in our symptoms library.
8. Panic attacks (Psychological)
Hormonal changes can lead to panic attacks which are horrible and frightening, even if harmless. They can be triggered by a feeling of intense fear. You can feel like you are going to die, faint, vomit, or suffocate as you hyperventilate. There are ways to help reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks. Read Erin’s story on how she managed panic attacks or learn more about panic attacks in our symptoms library.
9. Irritability and anger (Psychological)
Feeling on edge or outright rage about even quite small things can be part of your menopausal journey. Hormone imbalances can make it harder to control or mask your anger at work. Learn more about irritability.
10. Crying spells (Psychological)
With emotions being harder to control during your menopause journey, you can feel close to tears or find yourself sobbing uncontrollably. Even if you were not a crier before, you may find the tears flow more freely during menopause. Read more about crying spells in our symptoms library.
11. Inability to perform daily tasks (Psychological)
Menopause and hormone changes can affect your brain function and ability to complete daily tasks that used to require little thought or effort in the past. It is one of the most frustrating of the 34 symptoms of menopause. To help, keep your bed and sleep times consistent so you have maximum energy and see your healthcare provider if your symptoms don’t improve. See our tips on helping improve sleep quality. Read more about feeling unable to perform tasks.
12. Low confidence (Psychological)
Low confidence can express itself in different ways, including questioning your identity and capability. You may find you have lower confidence in yourself and your ability at work and home. You might start to doubt your self-worth and value. Read Kwavi’s story about how her confidence collapsed postmenopause or learn more about low confidence.
13. Weight gain (Somatic)
Fat distribution and muscle mass change as you age and you may find your waistband is becoming a little snug. Perhaps your usual routine and nutrition no longer keep weight off and need adjusting? If your sleep is disrupted, it can be harder to control cravings. Learn more about weight gain in our symptoms library.
14. Digestive problems (Somatic)
Your gastrointestinal tract can suffer as estrogen declines and cortisol rises, reducing stomach acid, slowing food digestion, and causing stomach pain. Stress and anxiety can also cause digestion issues. It can help to plan meals with easily digestible foods and see your healthcare provider if your symptoms are severe or don’t settle. Read about bloating in our symptoms library.
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15. Headaches (Somatic)
Half of women experience headaches due to their menstrual cycle so it is no surprise they crop up during menopause. Whether you have migraines or tension headaches, keep an eye on triggers. If they are stress-related, meditation and yoga may help, as will a healthier lifestyle. Read more about headaches and see your healthcare provider if they persist – there are plenty of treatment options available.
16. Skin changes – dryness and acne (Somatic)
Hair, skin, and nails can dry out during menopause, leading to irritation, itchiness, brittleness, and hair breakage. You may even find spots that appear similar to your teenage years. Learn more about skin changes.
17. Skin sensations – pins and needles, tingling skin-crawling (Somatic)
Strange skin sensations, known as paraesthesias, can appear during menopause, often in your hands and feet. They can be caused by fluctuating hormones interfering with your central nervous system. They can be uncomfortable and irritating, disrupting your sleep and concentration. Ease these odd feelings with gentle exercise, stretching, and getting outside for walks. Check in with your healthcare provider if they persist, urgently if you have any new or severe symptoms. Learn more about skin changes in our symptoms library.
18. Restless legs (Somatic)
If you cannot keep your legs and arms still, especially at night, you may have restless legs syndrome. Out of the 34 symptoms of menopause, this one can keep you up all night. There is no known cause and it is often accompanied by pins and needles, tingling, and skin crawling. Learn more about restless legs syndrome in our symptoms library.
19. Itchiness (Somatic)
Your skin becomes more dry during menopause and you may feel the urge to itch your chest, back, neck, arms, and legs. Keep nails short, and try gentle soaps and emollient creams. Learn more about itchiness in our symptoms library.
20. Joint pain (Somatic)
You may notice more pain as your estrogen declines. Estrogen may help maintain joint lubrication and has a useful anti-inflammatory effect on your body. Weight gain can make joint pain worse. Read more about aches and pains.
21. Aches and pains (Somatic)
It’s only when hormones decrease during menopause do you realize how much work they did when you were younger! Estrogen has an anti-inflammatory effect which helps muscles and joints and reduces pain. Learn more about aches and pains.
22. Dry or burning mouth (Somatic)
A dry or burning mouth can be a really unpleasant symptom of menopause. Hormone fluctuations can interfere with saliva production, causing a dry, hot, or burning sensation in the mouth, lips, and cheeks, even leaving a metallic taste in your mouth. Keep hydrated and sipping cold drinks or sucking on ice can offer relief. See your healthcare provider if it doesn’t improve. Learn more about dry mouth in our symptoms library.
23. Thinning hair (Somatic)
Are you noticing more hair on the floor or in your hairbrush? Estrogen and progesterone help with hair growth and you may see more hair loss as these hormones decline. Your diet, stress, and illness have an impact on hair health too. Bleach and artificial hair dyes can also damage hair follicles and accelerate hair loss. Embracing your silver and choosing your haircare products carefully could help your mane stay fuller for longer. Learn more about thinning hair.
24. Difficulty concentrating and brain fog (Somatic)
Losing your train of thought, forgetting a word, or being unable to remember why you went upstairs can make you fear you have Alzheimer’s when it is brain fog. It is often described as feeling like your head is full of cotton wool. It can be embarrassing at work, especially if you have a public speaking role. Read how Lisa managed brain fog during menopause or learn more about brain fog in our symptoms library. Speak to your healthcare provider if your symptoms of brain fog become troublesome.
25. Changes in body odour (Somatic)
You can feel quite repelled by the way you smell during menopause as your natural scent changes due to hormone fluctuations. Some women report that their sweat smells stronger and this is exacerbated if you experience hot flashes and night sweats. Read more about sweating during menopause.
26. Feeling tired or low in energy (Somatic)
When looking at this list of the 34 symptoms of menopause, can it be a surprise if you are lacking your usual mojo and energy levels? So many of them disrupt your sleep and can leave you out of juice and feeling exhausted. Learn more about fatigue in our symptoms library and see your healthcare provider if needed – they will be able to help rule out any underlying causes.
27. Difficulty sleeping (Somatic)
Menopause can seriously affect your sleep, from drifting off quickly to staying asleep and even waking too early. It’s also a challenge to manage racing thoughts at 3 am, night sweats, and exhaustion the next day. Get on top of your bedtime routine with a set bedtime, no screens, and a relaxing activity before you head to bed. Many other lifestyle habits can improve sleep too. Learn more about sleep.
28. Dry eyes and visual problems (Somatic)
Your eyes can become drier as estrogen levels decline. These can cause painful, itchy, or burning sensations in your eyes. Our reliance on screens at work and home can make this a real problem. Talk to your pharmacist about eye drops or talk to your healthcare provider if the symptoms do not improve or worsen. Learn more about dry eyes.
29. Low libido (Urogenital)
If sex is the last thing you feel like at the moment, you can blame your hormones. Estrogen and other sex hormones fluctuate during menopause and can lower your desire for sex. Stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem can also make getting in the mood pretty difficult. There is good news. Sex can be part of your future if you want it to be. Read more about sex during menopause.
30. Vaginal dryness and discomfort (Urogenital)
By this point, dryness may seem like an unpleasantly recurring theme in the 34 symptoms of menopause list. Hormonal changes mean vaginal tissues become thinner and more at risk of tearing and inflammation. This is referred to as vaginal atrophy. There are many effective treatments available. Learn more about vaginal discomfort.
31. Bladder problems (Urogenital)
Your pelvic floor can weaken as you age and you need these muscles to stop you from leaking, especially when sneezing, coughing, or laughing. If you are experiencing leaking after coughing or sneezing, needing the bathroom without much warning or leaking pee, there are exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor. Learn more about urinary incontinence.
32. Painful sex (Urogenital)
Vaginal pain during penetrative sex can be incredibly frustrating. Taking the focus off penetration can help, as can the use of sex toys and non-irritating lubricants. Also, open communication is a great starting point – learn how to start rebuilding intimacy with your partner. Treatments for vaginal atrophy can also help. Learn more about painful sex in our symptoms library.
33. Vaginal prolapse (Urogenital)
Your uterus, urethra, bladder, or rectum can droop into your vagina as you age and pelvic floor muscles weaken. It can be a very uncomfortable symptom of menopause and can be improved with daily pelvic floor exercises. Learn more about vaginal prolapse.
34. Recurring UTIs (Urogenital)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections in the urethra, bladder, and in rare cases, the kidney. Most people have experienced one at some point in their lives. They become more likely during menopause, especially after sex, as your vaginal tissue thins and the bacteria in your genital area change. If you have repeated UTIs, talk to your healthcare provider. Read more about UTIs in our symptoms library.
The list of 34 symptoms of menopause is likely to scare you and it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean that you will experience all of them or even some of them. Each person experiences different symptoms with different levels of severity and frequency. So hold that thought!
Many of these symptoms can be treated effectively, either with HT, other medications, physical therapy, or lifestyle tweaks. As always, your healthcare provider is the best person to advise you on the best treatment options available for you.