The Menopause Charity

Over half the population will go through menopause in their lifetime.

Despite this many still struggle to spot the signs and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. This sadly delays access to support and treatment; impacting them and those around them.

It’s easy enough to miss the signs that you are perimenopausal or menopausal.  You may think your symptoms are the result of stress, just a normal part of getting older or side effects from other treatment you may be receiving.

Wherever you are at in your menopause journey, it’s important that you don’t suffer in silence.  Life doesn’t have to be put on hold because of menopause.  There are lots of lifestyle changes and treatment options to consider to help you manage your symptoms.

Most women will experience menopausal symptoms.  Some will experience few, or no, symptoms.  For others they can be severe and have a significant impact on everyday life and overall well-being.

There are over 34 symptoms, and it is important to remember that everyone’s menopause journey is different.  Symptoms can vary widely, understand that your experience may not align exactly with what you’ve heard about menopause.

Symptoms can last for months or several years. They can also change over time.  Some symptoms can carry after your periods stop.  This time is known as post menopause.

However you decide to manage your menopause, if you suspect that you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause, make an appointment to see your doctor.  Use a symptom tracker to help you and your GP work out whether you may be experiencing perimenopause or menopause and rule out any other underlying conditions.

These are some of the symptoms you may experience because of fluctuating hormones experienced during perimenopause and menopause.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding

If you still have periods, you may experience a change to your periods.  In between periods, or once they have stopped, you may experience spotting or brown discharge.

If you experience bleeding that doesn’t seem like a period.  Or if you are postmenopausal and have started bleeding again it is important to speak to your healthcare professional.

Acne

Changes in skin oils during perimenopause and menopause might lead to acne.  You may experience breakouts, spots, or an oily complexion.

Altered sense of smell

Your ability to detect scents may change, making some smells more or less noticeable than before.

Anhedonia

It is common to experience a lack of interest or joy in activities that once brought happiness.  The medical term for this is anhedonia.

Discover more about menopause and mental health.

Anxiety

Many experience feelings of unease or apprehension that seem difficult to explain. These feelings may range from mild to intense and may impact your daily life.

Discover more about anxiety.

Bladder weakness

You might experience occasional leaks or a sense of urgency affecting your control over going to the toilet.   You might experience:

  • Stress incontinence – leaking when your bladder is put under pressure from coughing or sneezing
  • Urge incontinence – a sudden urge to wee
  • Nocturia – excessive need to wee at night

Discover more about menopause and urine incontinence.

Bloating

You may notice a sensation of fullness or swelling in your tummy.  This can feel very uncomfortable and usually comes and goes. This may be new or worse than what you have experienced in the past.

Brain fog

It is common to have difficulty in concentrating, with memory lapses and a sense of fogginess.  Brain fog can make daily tasks challenging.

Discover more about brain fog.

Breathing difficulties

You may experience changes in your breathing such as being wheezy or struggling to catch your breath when being active. Sometimes, if you have a history of childhood asthma this may come back. Oestrogen is anti-inflammatory and as it declines; in some women this can cause breathlessness. If you experience shortness of breath regularly, do seek medical advice to rule out other causes.

Brittle nails

Your nails may become more prone to breakage, splitting, or peeling due to the drop in hormone levels.

Burning mouth

You may experience a burning or tingling sensation in your mouth or on your tongue. This can be because of a reduction in saliva and dry mouth.

Discover more about burning mouth syndrome.

Change to your periods

You might find your periods are heavier than usual, or they might get lighter.  They may become more regular, or you may not have one for months at a time.  Eventually, as your ovaries run out of eggs, you will stop having periods altogether.

Change to your skin

You may notice changes in the condition of your skin due to the drop in your oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.  Your skin may become more dry or oily. You may also experience the onset of adult acne.

Change to your mood

The changes to your hormones during perimenopause and menopause can affect your mental health.  You may experience low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Cold flushes or feeling cold

It is possible to experience sudden sensations of feeling intensely cold. Sometimes this can follow a hot sweat. This can cause you to shiver or feel uncomfortable.

Clitoral pain or changes

Changes in sensitivity or discomfort in the clitoral area may affect your sexual experiences. This is part of Genitourinary syndrome of Menopause.

Crying spells

Episodes of intense sadness or tearfulness may happen unexpectedly. Such as hearing a news story or watching a TV show. It can be embarrassing and feel irrational to be emotional unexpectedly and for many women it can add to anxiety and low mood.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Depression

The changes to your hormones during perimenopause and menopause can affect your mental health.  You may experience low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Difficulty concentrating

Your focus and concentration may become challenging and you may not focus or multi-task as well as you used to.This can lead to frustration in tasks that once seemed routine.

Difficulty in sleeping

Hormonal changes can affect your sleep patterns.  This may result in difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.

Digestive problems

Bloating, gas, or changes in bowel habits may impact your digestive comfort.

Dry eyes

A sensation of dryness, itchiness or grittiness in your eyes may occur. It can be uncomfortable and distracting and may even affect your vision.

Dry mouth

A persistent dry feeling in the mouth can contribute to discomfort or difficulty swallowing. It is believed that the hormonal changes impact the saliva production and this causes dryness.

Dry or itchy skin

Changes in skin moisture levels may lead to dryness or itchiness, affecting the overall feel of your skin. Dry skin can feel prickly and itchy and be more sensitive.

Discover more about skin changes.

Electric shocks

Some women experience a sudden, brief sensation of electric shocks on their skin.  Whilst they are not usually painful, they can be startling or uncomfortable especially if frequent.

Fatigue

Many report unexplainable tiredness. This could impact your working and personal life and may also be as a result of poor sleep and joint pains.

Feeling dizzy or faint

Episodes of dizziness or feeling faint may occur unexpectedly. These can be due to other causes and it is important to seek medical advice if they are not fitting with other menopause symptoms.

Feeling tense or nervous

A heightened sense of tension or nervousness may accompany daily activities and this can be debilitating when it hinders life such as social events, driving or work.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Feeling unhappy or depressed

Persistent feelings of unhappiness, sadness, or a lack of interest in life may affect your overall wellbeing. It is troubling to feel a lack of joy.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM)

Hormonal changes can lead to many symptoms in your genital and urinary organs.  This is known as Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM).  These symptoms can include:

Headaches

Menopause-related hormonal changes can contribute to headaches, ranging from mild tension headaches to more severe migraines.

Heart burn

A burning sensation in your chest or throat, commonly associated with acid reflux may occur. This can also be triggered by many lifestyle changes such as erratic eating, snacking, caffeine and alcohol.

Heart palpitations

You may feel fluttering or rapid heartbeats, causing awareness of your heartbeat. This can lead to episodes of feeling faint. These can be due to other causes and it is important to seek medical advice if they are not fitting with other menopause symptoms.

Heavy periods or flooding

Your hormones being irregular often leads to changes in menstrual flow, resulting in heavier periods or episodes of flooding. Often this is a marker of being perimenopausal.

Hot flushes

You may have sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest. This intense heat can disturb sleep or can make you feel dizzy.

Insomnia

It is common to have difficulty getting off to sleep or staying asleep. The drop in hormones results in less deep and sustained sleep.  The medical term is insomnia.  Long term, sleep deprivation impacts how you feel physically and mentally.

Irregular periods

Your menstrual cycle may become unpredictable, with variations in timing and flow. It is most helpful to track your cycle so you can note changes.

Irritability

Increased irritability or frustration may be experienced with all the symptoms impacting you mentally and physically.

Joint pain

Joint pain, stiffness, aching and loss of strength can be common symptoms during perimenopause and menopause. This can make you feel uncomfortable, impact life and limit your movement. This is a really common symptom.

Labia shrinking

Hormonal changes may lead to a reduction in the size of your labia.  This can affect sensations in your genital area. This is part of Genitourinary syndrome of Menopause.

Lacking in energy

A general lack of vitality or enthusiasm may make daily tasks more challenging. This could impact your working and personal life and may also be as a result of poor sleep.

Lack of motivation

Reduced drive or enthusiasm for once-motivating activities may occur. This impacts self-care, working, and personal life for many.

Loss of bone density

Menopause can contribute to a decrease in bone density, potentially leading to an increased risk of fractures.

Discover more about lifestyle for healthy bones.

Loss of concentration

Difficulty focusing on tasks or maintaining attention may be a common experience.

Loss of confidence

Changes in self-perception and feeling unwell may result in decreased confidence or self-assurance. Increasing awareness of menopause can help this.

Discover how to boost confidence in menopause.

Loss of interest in most things (Anhedonia)

You may have a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that leave you feeling disengaged. The medical term for this is Anhedonia.  The changes to your hormones during perimenopause and menopause can affect your mental health.  You may also experience low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Low or loss of libido

Decreased sexual desire or interest in intimate activities may occur.

It can help if your partner understands the changes you are experiencing.

Low mood

A sense of low mood may impact your emotional well-being.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Memory problems

Difficulty remembering names, details, or information may be part of menopausal memory challenges as our brain needs the hormones to work to full function. This can be really distressing and sometimes embarrassing.

It is common to experience memory problems associated with perimenopause.  However, if you are concerned about young onset dementia and menopause discover more in our resource developed with Dementia UK.

Migraines

You may start to experience migraines for the first time during perimenopause. If you have suffered from migraines before, you might find your migraines become more severe or closer together.

Discover more about migraines and menopause.

Mood swings

Fluctuations in mood, ranging from elation to irritability, may occur.

Discover more about menopause and mental health

Muscle aches

Generalised discomfort or pain in the muscles may be experienced. It is common to label this as nonspecific fatigue, however, improving menopause care can help this.

Nail changes

Hormonal changes can impact nail health, leading to brittleness, peeling, or changes in appearance.

Nausea

A sensation of queasiness or an urge to vomit may be present. This can often be associated with heart burn or dizziness, so the symptoms can overlap.

Needing a wee more often or having leaks of urine

Changes in bladder function may result in an increased urge to go to the toilet more often and occasional leaks.  You may also experience recurrent urinary tract infections.

Discover more about menopause and urine incontinence.

Night sweats

Intense sweating during the night can disrupt rest and make you feel uncomfortable. It can impact your relationship. Hormone change impacts your body’s temperature control and this is why night sweats happen to many but not all.

Oral health

Changes in your mouth may occur, including bleeding or receding gums and a dry or burning sensation in your mouth.  You may also notice a change in taste or a metallic taste.

Other changes you may experience are dental decay, ulcers, or the loss of teeth.

It is important to track changes in your mouth and to see a dentist.

Painful sex

Changes in vaginal tissues may make sexual activity uncomfortable or painful.  The medical term for this is dyspareunia. This is part of Genitourinary syndrome of Menopause.

Painful smear test

Pelvic exams may become more uncomfortable due to changes in vaginal tissues.  This is part of Genitourinary syndrome of Menopause.

Panic Attacks

Intense, sudden feelings of fear or panic may occur unexpectedly. For many this can be completely new and unexplained. Recognising these, seeking help and mindful exercises can help.

Discover some simple breathing techniques and exercises that can help.

Pelvic organ prolapse

You might feel a sense of pressure or heaviness in your pelvic area. This is common after childbirth too. It is important to seek medical review for this.

Pins and needles

A tingling or prickling sensation, similar to when your foot ‘falls asleep’, may be experienced. These are usually short lived.

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

The recurrence of urinary tract infections, such as thrush or cystitis, may cause a frequent, urgent need to go to the toilet, accompanied by discomfort or pain when you wee.

Discover more about menopause and urine incontinence.

Reduced self-esteem

You may feel less confident or sure of yourself, impacting how you view your own worth.

Discover how to boost confidence in menopause.

Restless legs

Legs may feel irritable or jumpy at night, making it hard to keep them still and relaxed. This can affect sleep quality and comfort. It is an important symptom to recognise as it can be misunderstood and be missed.

Skin changes

Changes in skin moisture may lead to dryness, sensitivity, or show differences in texture and appearance.

Discover more about skin changes.

Sleep disturbance

It is common to find difficulty in falling or staying asleep. Hormonal changes can affect your sleep patterns.

Sore boobs

Breasts may feel tender, sore or sensitive to touch. This commonly occurs during periods as breast tissue is sensitive to hormone fluctuations and can continue into menopause.

Sore gums

Gums may feel tender or painful, especially when brushing or eating. Gums become weaker and recede with hormone change. It is important to track changes in your mouth and to see a dentist.

Stress incontinence

An uncontrollable urge to pass urine whilst laughing, sneezing or coughing may occur.  This can be exacerbated by Urinary Tract Infections.

Discover more about menopause and urine incontinence.

Thinning hair

You may notice a decrease in hair thickness or volume over time. This can be really distressing and knock confidence.

Tingling hands or feet

A sensation of pins and needles, like tingling or prickling, in your hands or feet may be experienced.

Tinnitus

You may experience a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears, even when it’s quiet. This is commonly not understood to be associated with menopause but it can be due to other causes so it is important to seek medical advice.

Urinary symptoms

Changes in bladder strength may lead to leaking, incontinence, frequent UTIs and waking up at night.

Discover more about menopause and urine incontinence.

Vaginal atrophy

The tissues of your vagina may become thinner, less elastic, and more fragile, often resulting in pain during sex.  The medical term for this is vaginal atrophy. This is part of Genitourinary syndrome of Menopause.

Vaginal or vulval dryness

A lack of moisture in the vaginal area, may cause discomfort, itching, or a feeling of tightness. It can be helped by awareness and vaginal moisturisers. This is part of Genitourinary syndrome of Menopause.

Discover more about vaginal dryness.

Vulvovaginal irritation

The external genital area and your vagina itself may become irritated.  This can cause a burning or itching sensation. . It can be helped by awareness and vaginal moisturisers. This is part of Genitourinary syndrome of Menopause.

Vertigo

A strong feeling of dizziness a sensation of the room is spinning, loss of balance and/or nausea may be experienced.

It is important to note your symptoms and seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Weight gain

There may be several lifestyle factors that lead to weight gain during perimenopause and menopause.

Discover more about weight change.

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: No connected account.

Please go to the Instagram Feed settings page to connect an account.

Instagram