Hot flushes. Irritability. Night sweats. When we talk about menopause, these are the symptoms that most commonly spring to mind.
But the truth is, every woman is different. Symptoms can vary widely from one woman to another. In fact, 30 different menopause symptoms have been identified which can affect women in a combination of different ways during menopause and perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause). So there really is no ‘typical’ case when it comes to menopause.
The problem is, if we don’t realise a health concern is due to menopause, it’s easy for it to be mis-diagnosed. You might worry that you’re developing a string of unexplained illnesses. Or you might not realise that changes to your mental health are a natural consequence of fluctuating hormones.
As you reach your 40s and 50s, you might experience a number of new health concerns that you don’t immediately associate with menopause or perimenopause. And you’re not alone. In a survey by online vitamin company Healthspan, almost half of respondents said they’d experienced symptoms leading up to menopause which they didn’t realise were due to perimenopause.
But by recognising and understanding menopause symptoms more clearly, you can take action to ease any unwelcome effects you might be facing. This will help you maintain confidence, enjoying life to the full through menopause and beyond.
Here are five symptoms you might not have realised are caused by menopause:
1. Joint aches and pains
Experiencing more joint aches and pains than usual? You may think it’s purely a sign of ageing. But as oestrogen levels decline during menopause, the anti-inflammatory benefits that oestrogen provides decrease. This can lead to joint discomfort and menopause-related arthritis.
How to help: Talk to your doctor about strategies to ease the pain such as heat packs or ice packs to reduce inflammation. Try gentle exercise such as yoga, swimming, or walking to maintain your mobility.
2. Hair loss
Losing hair can be a big shock for women, as we typically associate hair loss as a male problem. But if you’ve noticed your hair seems thinner or your parting is wider, menopause could be the cause due to changes in hormone levels.
How to help: Ask your hairdresser to recommend products specifically formulated for thinning hair. Or talk to your doctor about medications that could help.
3. Foggy brain
If you’re used to performing well at work and keeping life organised at home, it can be distressing when everyday tasks suddenly become harder.
From forgetting names to missing an appointment, you might worry your brain is failing you. But try not to be too hard on yourself. Memory loss and ‘brain fog’ are common during menopause. And of course, if your sleeping habits have changed recently, you might be feeling more tired than usual, which can add to the feelings of fogginess.
How to help: With busy lives, it’s often hard to find time for rest but make your own relaxation a priority. Find an activity such as yoga or swimming that helps you unwind. (Light exercise has the added bonus of helping with other symptoms such as joint pain). If you find you’re forgetting important information, use apps on your phone to keep on top of things.
Abdominal pain, bloating, changes in bowel patterns, diarrhoea, constipation… These can all be signs of IBS caused by menopause. It’s due to hormone changes in your body and if you’ve suffered from IBS in the past, you may find it worsens during menopause.
How to help: Monitor your diet to see which foods trigger the unwelcome symptoms. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian if you need extra support.
5. Skin Ageing
We all expect to look older as the years pass by. But changes to your skin aren’t always due purely to the passing of time.
The drop in oestrogen levels before and during menopause can have a major impact, significantly accelerating collagen loss and skin ageing. That’s why you may feel you’ve aged suddenly in a relatively short period of time.
As the skin begins to look older, you may find it is dryer, duller or showing more wrinkles and increased sagging.
How to help: Check your skin care routine. We often get stuck in a rut, using the same old cleansers and moisturisers. But it’s important to update your routine when your skin changes. Ask your local skin-care clinic about Emepelle – the breakthrough innovation for skin affected by menopause.
Emepelle® is the first and only line of skincare products to feature MEP Technology®. This revolutionary technology is clinically proven to effectively and safely reinvigorate the natural functions of skin, targeting the root cause of ageing in skin affected by menopause.
How to deal with unexpected menopause symptoms
If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms, it can have a huge effect on your quality of life. Many symptoms can be eased by taking regular exercise, eating healthily and finding techniques for relaxation. However, it’s always important to talk to your doctor to rule out any other causes for your symptoms and find the best way to travel through the menopause years healthily and happily.
Remember to chat to friends and family too – you’ll probably find many women around you are going through their own menopause journey. Sharing experiences can really help make menopause easier – no matter what symptoms you’re experiencing.
Click here to find out more about Emepelle – helping you maintain confidence in your appearance throughout menopause.