Well, some doctors may know these symptoms, but they might not put it all together initially while you bounce around other ideas of "it could be...."
Don't worry --- you're not going crazy! In the past, women have not spoken openly about all of the symptoms that can come from menopause. It's only recently that we are coming out about this information, which is also being impacted by new environmental factors that our great grandparents weren't exposed to.
Some women even report these symptoms starting as early as their mid-30's, or more commonly around mid 40's to 50's.
1. Phantom Periods - All the Symptoms But...
Phantom periods are another common experience for women going through menopause. These are instances where a woman may exhibit symptoms typically associated with menstruation, such as bloating, cramping, and mood swings, but without any actual bleeding.
These symptoms can be attributed to the fluctuating hormone levels during menopause, particularly the decrease in estrogen. Even though the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs, the body may still respond as if it's preparing for a menstrual cycle. As with other menopausal symptoms, it's important to remember that phantom periods are a completely normal part of this natural process.
Alternatively, you could also be experiencing some break-through bleeding or even multiple times during the same month where you notice menstrual-like symptoms.
2. A Distinct Notice in an Increase of Body Odor
It's perfectly normal if you've noticed a change in your body odor as you navigate your journey through menopause. As this is a time when your body experiences many hormonal changes, these shifts can surprisingly affect your sense of smell and body odor. Even with the usual hygiene practice, you may notice that your scent is simply "more noticeable" to yourself.
Estrogen levels decrease during menopause, and this decline has been linked to an increase in sweat production. Sweat itself is odorless, but when it comes in contact with the bacteria on our skin, it can produce a distinct smell. Additionally, the sweat produced by apocrine glands, which are active during hormonal fluctuations, is thicker and can contribute to a stronger odor when combined with skin bacteria.
Another factor is the changing body temperature due to hot flashes and night sweats, common occurrences in menopause. These can lead to excessive sweating, particularly at night, creating an environment in which bacteria thrive, hence contributing to increased body odor.
3. Blurry Vision and a Change in Depth Perspective
While the physical changes of menopause are often discussed, the implications it has on vision, particularly depth perception, are seldom addressed. Depth perception is our ability to determine distances between objects and see the world in three dimensions. Several women going through menopause have reported experiencing alterations in their depth perception, leading to difficulties in activities like reading, driving, or descending stairs.
Decreased estrogen levels during menopause can affect the eyes in multiple ways. Lower estrogen levels may cause reduced tear production leading to dry eyes, which can blur vision and distort depth perception. Also, reduced estrogen may affect the eye's lens, leading to cloudiness or the formation of cataracts, which can further impair depth perception and overall vision.
Additionally, changes in blood pressure and hormonal fluctuations may lead to migraines, which can temporarily affect vision clarity and depth perception. It's important to remember that while these changes can be disconcerting, they are a normal part of menopause.
4. Ear Ringing, Random Painful Nervous System Shocks
Another unsettling but often overlooked symptom of menopause is the occurrence of random nervous system jabs or shocks. These sudden, electric shock-like sensations, often referred to as 'paresthesia', can be quite startling and are believed to be linked to the fluctuations in hormone levels, specifically estrogen.
Estrogen has a direct effect on the function of the brain and nervous system, and as these levels decline during menopause, it can result in a variety of neurological symptoms, including these unexpected shocks.
These sensations typically occur on the skin and may be accompanied by a rapid increase in heart rate and a hot flash. While these symptoms can be alarming, they are generally harmless and tend to decrease in frequency and intensity as the body adjusts to the new hormone levels.
Tinnitus, commonly referred to as 'ringing in the ears', is an additional symptom that may occur. As some hormone levels decline, it can lead to changes in hearing, often manifesting as tinnitus. This condition is characterized by the perception of noise or ringing in the ears, and can be intermittent or constant, with varying volumes.
It is worth noting that while tinnitus can be bothersome and disruptive to daily life, it is typically a not a long-term symptom of menopause.
5. Foot Discomfort, Walking Pain, Joint Pain & Body Aches
Foot pain can sometimes increase during this phase due to fluctuating hormone levels. Reduced estrogen can lead to lower collagen production, which is vital for joint flexibility, potentially leading to stiffness and discomfort in the feet.
Additionally, weight gain often associated with menopause can put extra stress on the feet, leading to conditions such as plantar fasciitis or exacerbating existing foot discomfort. Regular exercise, wearing supportive footwear, and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage foot pain during menopause. However, persistent or severe foot pain should not be overlooked and warrants a visit to a healthcare professional or a podiatrist for proper evaluation and treatment.
This is also the reason we often recommend additional mineral aids during this time, which can also help the joints recover and maintain their flexibility.
5. COLD Flashes, Hot Flashes and Difficulty Moderating Temperature
Temperature swings, commonly known as hot flashes, are one of the most frequently reported symptoms. These sudden feelings of heat can be intense and can cause discomfort, disrupting everyday life.
Hot flashes are directly linked to the hormonal changes happening in the body. As the levels of estrogen - a hormone that plays a pivotal role in regulating the body's thermostat - fluctuates, it can often trigger these extreme temperature shifts.
Understanding what triggers a hot flash can help manage them better. Common triggers include spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, stress, and tight clothing. Keeping a 'hot flash diary' can help you identify your personal triggers.
When a hot flash strikes, try to stay calm. Deep, slow breathing (inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth) may also help. Dress in layers so you can remove clothing when you feel too warm. Opt for loose, breathable fabrics like cotton.
Just as some women experience hot flashes during menopause, others might encounter their chilly counterpart: cold flashes. Cold flashes, much like hot flashes, are related to the fluctuating hormone levels during menopause.
During a cold flash, you might feel an abrupt sense of coldness, often accompanied by chills, and sometimes followed by a hot flash. The skin might also appear paler than usual. It's been observed that stress, anxiety, or sudden changes in the body's environment could act as potential triggers.
To combat a cold flash, try to keep warm with layers of clothing or blankets. Hot drinks can also provide relief.
6. Increased Anxiety or an Onset of New OCD Symptoms
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorders can also surface or worsen during menopause. Hormonal fluctuations can exacerbate these conditions, making it a challenging time for women who already have a history of such mental health issues.
In menopause, the decline in estrogen can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin—a key player in mood regulation—contributing to heightened feelings of anxiety or obsessive thoughts. It's crucial to recognize these symptoms and not dismiss them as just another aspect of menopause. Mental health care is a vital part of managing menopause.
Anxiety during menopause is not uncommon, yet it often remains an under-discussed aspect of this life transition. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can lead to both physical and emotional shifts, and anxiety is one potential manifestation of these changes.
Women may experience general feelings of unease, restlessness, and worry during this stage, often disproportionate to the situation at hand. Anxiety might also reveal itself in physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sleep disturbances, and even panic attacks.
7. Changes in Taste & Cravings, Dry Mouth, Altered Sense of Smell
Changes in taste during menopause are another relatively less discussed yet quite common symptom women might encounter. This can be particularly disconcerting as it influences one of our fundamental sensory experiences.
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can alter the way foods and drinks are perceived, making certain flavors seem more intense or, conversely, entirely insipid. Sweet, salty, bitter, or sour—no taste category is immune.
Alongside changes in taste, some women might also experience a dry mouth or altered sense of smell during menopause, further influencing their flavor perception. It's important to remember that while these changes can be confusing or frustrating, they are usually temporary.
8. "Brain Fog" - Feeling Spacey, Forgetful, Disoriented, or Confused
Feeling disoriented or experiencing moments of "brain fog" is another symptom that some women may encounter during menopause. Maintaining concentration or recalling specific details might unexpectedly become difficult. This can be particularly alarming, leaving many women feeling stressed and anxious about their cognitive health. However, it's important to understand that these experiences are often a result of hormonal changes during menopause and are generally temporary.
Menopause is a significant period of transition for every woman, and the drop in estrogen levels can impact various functions of the body, including brain function. Cognitive symptoms, such as forgetfulness, difficulty focusing, and feeling disoriented, are not uncommon. These can often be managed effectively through lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy diet, ensuring regular physical activity, and getting adequate sleep. Additionally, engaging in mental exercises, like reading, puzzles, or learning new skills can also aid in keeping the mind sharp.
9. Emotional Rollercoaster - Depression, Paranoia & Emotional Swings
Emotional swings are another common facet of menopause many women face. With the hormonal fluctuations that occur during this phase, it's not uncommon for women to experience mood swings, feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, or a decreased sense of well-being.
These emotional changes can be sudden and intense, often seeming to come out of nowhere. Additionally, factors such as sleep disturbances, stress, and the physical symptoms of menopause can further intensify these emotional ups and downs. It's important for women to understand that these emotional changes are a common part of the menopause transition and not a reflection of personal weakness or failure.
Depression is yet another facet of the emotional challenges experienced during menopause. Hormonal shifts can contribute to feelings of persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, or noticeable changes in appetite or weight.
10. Vaginal Atrophy, AKA: Pain, Discomfort, Dryness, Painful Intercourse
Vaginal skin thinning, or vaginal atrophy, is a common symptom experienced during menopause. This hormonal change can cause the vaginal walls to become thinner, less elastic, and more fragile.
Symptoms may include vaginal dryness, itching, discomfort, and pain during intercourse. It can also lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infections due to the thinning of the urethra. It's important to note that these changes are completely normal and treatable.
Now, before you frown, let's focus on the good news - it's treatable! You're not alone in this, and there are solutions available. You may want to look into review of our Vital V Wild Yam Salve where many women have experiencing relief from these symptoms.