There's been a list of the "34 signs of menopause" circulating
for years. The list originated with Judy Bayliss' wonderful newsgroup,
The Menopaus Listserv (That's Menopaus without the "e" at
I've taken the liberty of adding my own Notes
to the original list. You'll find hundreds of articles pertaining
to menopause symptoms, treatments and menopause / midlife-related
health and emotional issues including articles on midlife relationships,
weight and fitness issues, intimacy, psychological problems associated
with menopause in Power
Surge's, "Educate Your Body" extensive library.
I suggest you begin with the comprehensive article explaining what
menopause is (by clicking this link):
in "An Introduction To Menopause: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments"
You'll find remedies for most of these symptoms on the Recommendations page.
Here is the list of: "The 34 Signs of Menopause:"
flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
(related to increased activity in the autonomic / sympathetic nervous
system). Without becoming too, technical, messages are sent to the
hypothalmus because of declining estrogen production via neurons which
result in vasodilation -- widening of the lumen of blood vessels (lumen
being the cavity of a tubular organ, i.e., the lumen of a blood vessel,)
which, in turn, causes flushing or hot flashes. Tips for treating/minimizing
(and even avoiding) hot flashes: Power
Surge's Menopause Survival Tips. Also, read the Power Surges (hot flashes) Forum
2. Bouts of rapid heartbeat (related to increased activity in the
autonomic / sympathetic nervous system) Note:
Along with rapid heartbeat (palpitations), women can experience skipped
heartbeats, irregular heartbeats. These are generally normal vasomotor
responses experienced during menopause - usually due to fluctuating
hormone levels. However, if these problems continue, it's always a
good idea to be checked by your health care practitioner. An echocardiogram
is a common procedure to tell the doctor what he needs to know about
your heart. If your health care practitioner doesn't suggest it, ASK
FOR IT! Read the Palpitations, Heart Issues, Hypertension Forum
3. Irritability. Note:
Along with irritability, a host of "anger" problems can
develop during menopause. Just as a perimenopausal woman can find
herself suddenly crying for no apparent reason or provocation, so
can she find herself reacting to given situations in an angrier manner
than she normally does. This anger can sometimes feel like "rage."
Again, this is hormone-induced, but for some women, the anger can
become inappropriate and a woman can feel like she's out of control.
There's nothing wrong with seeking counselling to discuss these issues
with a mental health professional. This is a challenging time of life
and some objective outside help can be tremendously useful in helping
a woman cope with all the emotions she's feeling. Remember, menopause
isn't simply physical changes, but emotional and spiritual changes
as well. There's an excellent forum on the Power Surge Message Board
that deals with the issues of Anger
/ Mood Swings / Rage.
4. Mood swings, sudden tears. Note:
Mood swings can include anything from mood shifts (happy one moment,
deprssed the next) to sudden bouts of crying when nothing overt has
occurred to cause the crying. Mood swings can and have been misdiagnosed
as bipolar disorder because one can feel such extremes of emotions
due to hormone imbalance. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks and even
feelings of agoraphobia aren't uncommon during menopause. The panic
attacks often can develop with the onset of hot flashes. For some
women, hot flashes can be severe and quite frightening.
sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats). Note:
This can develop into insomnia or just waking at 2 in the morning
for an hour. Relaxation and breathing exercises can be useful at this
time -- many women may log onto the Power
Surge message boards and are surprised to find so many other women
there in the middle of the night. More help on the Insomnia, Sleep Disorders Forum
6. Irregular periods: shorter, lighter or heavier periods, flooding,
and phantom periods. Note:
A phantom period is when you experience all the symptoms you're accustomed
to having before you menstruate -- but... no period comes. This is
a common experience during perimenopause before a woman's period actually
of libido (sex drive). Note:
Not every woman loses her libido entirely during perimenopause, although
some may temporarily. Many women simply have a decreased interest
in sex - often it's simply because they generally don't feel well
and sex is the last thing on their mind! Also, bear in mind that there
are many medications that can affect one's libido, including the anti-depressants
some women take to cope with the depression and anxiety associated
with menopause to anti-hypertensives.
8. Dry vagina (results in painful intercourse) Note:
for an excellent article about vaginal dryness, sexuality and midlife
relationships. Recommended: Sexual Issues/Libido Forum
9. Crashing fatigue. Note:
I've never been able to determine if the "fatigue" associated
with perimenopause is a symptom in and of itself, or if it's a side
effect of the cumulative symptoms and general exhaustion (from them)
many women experience. Take all the symptoms and "dump"
them on one person -- is it any wonder perimenopausal women are so
fatigued? If you can, try to find time to grab a nap. One of the things
that helped my fatigue, and it's all chronicled in my personal odyssey
to find remedies, is the use of considerable amounts of soy isoflavones
and protein, which I found in Revival
Soy. I can't say that it specifically targetted and relieved the
crashing fatigue, but it helped so many other symptoms and gave me
a burst of energy, that I feel comfortable in attributing the fatigue
relief to Revival. There are various vitamins, such as those in the
"B" family, that can help with fatigue as well. Also, increased
amounts of vitamin C. The
Recommendations page lists numerous vita-nutrients that can be
useful in treating fatigue and other symptoms associated with perimenopause.
10. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease.Note: One of the biggest complaints during menopause. Read the Anxiety/Stress Forum
11. Feelings of dread, apprehension, and doom (includes thoughts
of death, picturing one's own death). Note:
It's possible that this can be a manifestation of depression associated with menopause, or possibly feelings that come from going through daily discomfort through a difficult menopause transition that can last anywhere from 3-12 years. A woman living under these circumstances can feel totally overwhelmed and frightened by the physical, psychological and spiritual changes. When there seems to be no reprieve from the suffering, for some it can leave them feeling drained wondering when and IF they'll ever feel well again. It isn't unusual for women at this time of life to have thoughts about dying. One phase of their life is coming to a close (not soon enough for many). There may be apprehension and fear about moving on to the next phase of life and wondering whether things will get better or worse. Helpful: The Panic Attacks / Disorder / Fear / Apprehension Forum
12. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, & mental confusion.
during perimenopause is often referred to lightly and humorously as
"brain fog" but it's not always funny. Note: An excellent article, Menopause And The Mind. Also, visit the Memory Loss, Foggy Thinking, Forgetfulness, Verbal Slips Forum
13. Disturbing memory lapses. Note: See #12,
-- especially upon sneezing, laughing: urge incontinence (reflects
a general loss of smooth muscle tone).
15. Itchy, crawly skin (feeling of ants crawling under the skin,
not just dry, itchy skin Note:
the feeling of ants crawling on your skin is called "formication") Visit the Your Skin: Dryness, Itching, Vaginal Dryness, Disorders, Discomfort Forum
16. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons. (may include such problems
as carpal tunnel syndrome). Note:
can develop during perimenopause - and those with existing arthritic
and/or rheumatic pain may find it's exacerbated during the menopausal
transition. See the Joints Aches and Pains/Arthrisitis Forum
17. Increased tension in muscles.
18. Breast tenderness. Note:
Breast swelling, soreness, pain.
19. Headache change: increase or decrease. Note:
Many women develop migraine
headaches during perimenopause. However, if one doesn't have a
history of migraine headeaches, they're generally a short-lived experience
of perimenopause. Also see the Headaches, Migraine Forum
20. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain,
nausea. Note: For nausea,
try some ginger or, as I use, boiling hot water with a few teaspoons
of lemon or lemon juice concentrate in it. Many women also develop
acid reflux (Gerd). For some, it can be an uncomfortable feeling of
severe burning sensations in the throat. If it persists, see your
health care practitioner.
21. Sudden bouts of bloat. Note:
Bloating, water retention are common complaints during perimenopause. Also, Acid reflux and heartburn are very common during perimenopause. Treat them as you would if you weren't going through menopause.
(has a quality from other depression, the inability to cope is overwhelming,
there is a feeling of a loss of self. Natural hormone therapy, ameliorates
the depression dramatically). Note:
There are various natural methods of treating depression. Read Power
Surge's Menopause Survival Tips. Also, many women using progestins
or progesterone supplementation experience "depression"
as a side effect. Power Surge recommends only
naturally compounded, bio-identical hormones. Naturally compounded
estrogen and progesterone supplementation doses can be individually
adjusted to suit each woman's needs. So, if a woman is experiencing
depression from progesterone, the level of progesterone supplementation
can be reduced until the compounding pharmacist comes up with the
right blend. The combination of estrogen and progesterone is important
in achieving the desired results. Other remedies, such as St.
John's Wort can be very effective in alleviating the depression
associated with menopause.
My personal experience was that my perimenopause-related depression
was elliminated when I started using Revival
Soy Protein Revival is excellent for mood swings, but I was astonished
by the impact it had on the hormone-related "lows" I experienced
before using it. Also recommended, The Depression Forum
23. Exacerbation of any existing conditions. Note:
Often, conditions women had prior to entering perimenopause become
exaggerated (worse) during the menopause transition.
24. Increase in allergies. Note:
Many women who suffer from allergies develop worse allergies during
the menopausal years. Many women who've never had allergy or respiratory
problems may develop them for the first time. Many people don't realize
that histamine levels are affected by hormone levels. Women can develop
wheezing, coughing and a host of respiratory problems. This generally
disappears as the hormones level out once a woman becomes menopausal.
25. Weight gain. (is often around the waist and thighs, resulting in "the disappearing waistline" and changes in body shape.) A good read, Weight Gain and Fitness Issues
loss or thinning, head or whole body, increase in facial hair.
Note: There is often
a loss of pubic hair during menopause. Many women are more comfortable
simply shaving their pubic area instead of having patches of hair.
27. Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance. Note:
Although common complaints during menopause, I always recommend
anyone suffering from dizziness, dysequilibrium have her blood pressure checked just
to be on the safe side. However, women can experience these symptoms during perimenopause without having hypertension.
28. Changes in body odor. Note:
I wouldn't be too concerned about this one. It can happen, but in
13 years of running Power Surge, I've heard of relatively few cases
of developing body odor during menopause.
29. Electric shock sensation under the skin & in the head ("take
the feeling of a rubber band snapping against the skin, multiply it
(exponentially, sometimes) radiate it & put it in the layer of
tissues between skin & muscle & sometimes a precursor to a
hot flash.") Note:
Those buzzing sensations, as though you've put your finger into a
live electrical socket, can be frightening. They're all part of the
hormones, nerve endings and electrical waves running through our bodies
when our hormones are constantly fluctuating. Many women experience
this during perimenopause, but it eventually passes.
30. Tingling in the extremities (can also be a symptom of B-12 deficiency,
diabetes, or from an alteration in the flexibility of blood vessels
in the extremities.)
31. Gum problems, increased bleeding.
32. Burning tongue
(after several years)
34. Brittle fingernails, which peel & break easily.
Some additional signs from Dearest:
- Dry skin / skin changes
- Internal shaking / tremor-like feelings. Read the Internal Shaking Forum
- Acne and other skin eruptions
- Itching wildly and erratic rashes
- Shoulder pain / joints / arthritis development or flare up in
- "Heart pain" - a feeling of pain in the area of the
heart (if persistent, get checked by your health care practitioner)
- Acid reflux / heartburn / difficulty digesting certain foods
Some of the 34 signs may also be symptoms of one of the following:
If you have reason to believe you may have one of these conditions,
see your healthcare practitioner for treatment.
Dearest Note: Remember
that although these may be common complaints during menopause, they
might also indicate some other health problem. Be sure to consult
with your personal health care practitioner before attributing these
symptoms to menopause.
You can read about many of these symptoms in the Educate
Your Body Library, and the Transcripts
with guest experts.