How do you know when you are going through menopause?

Menopause Symptoms? How do you know when you are going through menopause?

Well, the quick, short answer is that if you find yourself asking yourself the questions: “Am I going through menopause, am I experiencing menopause symptoms?”, that generally means that you are.  The asking of the  question usually means that means some things have been happening to you that are out of the ordinary.  Menopause, or rather peri-menopause, is the time leading up to menopause.  Menopause is when you have had no periods for at least a year.

When does Menopause start? – menopause Age- What is the average age for Peri Menopause?

The age when menopause symptoms start varies greatly from woman to woman. Generally it is said that the age your mother went through menopause is a good indicator of when you will start to experience it as well.  I find that the level, severity and duration of symptoms can be vastly different as today women have many therapies and help available that their mothers did not have.  Even things like dietary and exercise changes can hugely impact a woman’s menopause experience.

Very generally, the average age for peri menopause:

Perimenopause can begin at around age 40 and continue until around 50 or 55 years old when the period ends completely. It can start earlier and end later than this range.  Having some blood tests can help you deteremine if peri menopause is happening.

Menopause Symptoms – Peri Menopause Symptoms- Pre Menopasue Symptoms

Usually symptoms of menopause can start with things that are not glaringly related to what you would think is obviously menopause.  It’s usually things that you can easily explain away by attributing it to be being busy or stressed or not eating right or getting enough exercise. The early symptoms of menopause -pre menopause symptoms- can be easily explained away as something else especially if you have young children that still need a lot of your time and attention. The early menopause symptoms seem to creep in slowly well before you have an obvious hot flash.  It usually starts with:

  • a bit of insomnia
  • some tiredness or fatigue
  • some weight gain
  • dry skin
  • headaches
  • a bit of irritibility (which can be dismissed as stressed because you’re busy)
  • feeling a little “glum” or down or like your world is a little bit “colourless”
  • not so interested in sex
  • changes in frequency of periods (a week earlier or a week later)
  • changes in quality of periods (lighter/heavier, longer bleed/shorter bleed, more pain/less pain, darker in colour/lighter in colour, etc.)

Hot flashes and night sweats are the most obvious signs of menopause and perimenopause.  Having a hot flash is what usually makes women stop and pay attention and realise that this must be menopause.

There are so many physical, emotional & mental menopause symptoms that it can be difficult in the beginning of the peri menopause stage to realise that it even is peri menopause.  Mainly because we tend to explain away why we are tired or gaining weight, etc. And also, during peri menopause our hormone levels are fluctuating up & down, so the peri menopause symptoms we feel can come and go frequently as our hormone levels change up & down.  See the full list below of menopause symptoms & peri menopause symtpoms.

What you can do for Menopause Symptoms & to ease the transition

Take care of yourself-Nourish Yourself.  As we get older it takes more effort to maintain your health. Replenish yourself with healthy foods, stay hydrated, do rejuvinating exercise like yoga, tai chi, walking (not depleting exercise), implement a sleep nighttime routine, cut down on caffeine, sugar & alcohol, make time for yourself to have some fun & to address anything that is bothering you.  Get a massage or refelxology or get a facial & a new face moisturiser.  Meditate, get acupuncture.  Take some herbs, talk to your doctor.  Talk to friends, spouse, a counsellor, etc. Nourish Yourself in any way you can.  Definitely add in some fun. Click to read about natural remedies for hot flashes

You will not necessarily experience all of the symptoms listed below, so don’t get worried, plenty of women manage to go through menopause without major disruption and even change their lives for the better if they nourish themselves and put some attention & time to it. Below is the long list of the Physical, Emotional & Mental Symptoms of Menopause:

Physical Menopause Symptoms & Perimenopause Symptoms:
  • Night Sweats
  • Hot Flashes / Hot Flushes (Feeling heat in face, ears or chest or generally feeling hot & sweaty all over)
  • Palpitations (racing/ rapid heartbeat)
  • Insomnia/ sleep disturbances
  • Tiredness/lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sore/ tender breasts
  • Period changes
  • Erratic/ irregular period cycle lengths
  • Flooding/ heavy period bleeding
  • Spotting
  • Increased or changes in pre-menstrual symptoms
  • Changes in libido
  • Pain/ discomfort during intercourse
  • Acne
  • Dry skin
  • Thinning skin
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Bloating
  • Dizzyness/ Light headed/ feeling faint
  • Loss of balance
  • Disorientation
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry, brittle fingernails
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Urinary tract infections/ vaginal infections
  • Yeast infection
  • Incontinence
  • Back pain
  • Aching/ painful joints or muscles
  • Hot hands and or feet
  • Cold hands and or feet
  • Sweating
  • Body odour
  • Itchiness
  • Tingling skin sensation
  • Tingling in extremities
  • Nausea
  • Digestive problems
  • Flatulence
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Food allergies
  • Other allergies
  • Head hair loss/ thinning
  • Increased body hair
  • Decreasing calcium levels
  • Decreasing hormone levels
  • Increasing hormone levels
  • Prolapse
  • Cystitis
  • Osteoporosis (bone loss)
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular changes
  • Abnormal pap smear
  • Feeling of lump in the throat
  • Sensation of burning tongue
Emotional & Mental Menopause Symptoms & Perimenopause Symptoms:
  • Mood swings/ Emotional bouts
  • Depression
  • Feelings of doom and gloom
  • Feelings of apprehension
  • Anxiety/Panic
  • Anger/rage
  • Frustration/ irritability/agitation
  • Feeling irrational
  • Feeling like cannot control emotions
  • Forgetfulness/ memory problems
  • Mental blanks/ memory lapse
  • Occasional aphasia (inability to find the right word)
  • Lack of drive/motivation
  • Loss of purpose
  • Fearfulness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Changes in libido
  • Accident prone
  • Tearfulness/weepy/sudden tears
  • Indecisiveness
  • Disorganisation
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Extreme elation
  • Confusion/brain fog
  • Agoraphobia
  • Other phobias
  • Vivid dreams

Take heart though, as you will not experience all of the above menopause symptoms, your menopause experience will be unique to you with your own combination of symptoms at varying degrees of intensity. Plenty of women make this time manageable and even use it as an opportunity to grow and change things for the better.

Linda Ryan- Founder of MARA Fertility Acupuncture ClinicHi, I’m Linda Ryan, Menopause Acupuncturist, mother of three: Having overcome my own menopause issues is what drives me to help women like you to achieve the relief that I made happen for myself.