Resources / Menopause symptoms

Menopause symptoms

Menopause symptoms can be different for every woman; and while some experience only mild symptoms, others experience debilitating symptoms that have a huge impact on their quality of life. Common ailments include irregular menstrual bleeding, hot flushes, and difficulty with concentration and memory (“brain fog”).

Menopause symptoms

But there are more serious long-term implications that come with menopause and its associated estrogen decline, that many women are unaware of. 

Often, women are surprised and scared when they experience the onset of menopause, not linking their symptoms to menopause and therefore, potentially missing out on opportunities for intervention and treatment. It’s therefore important to be familiar with menopausal symptoms, and the potential long-term implications of menopause itself.

The more knowledge you have, the better a headstart you have on making health and lifestyle choices that can help to minimise menopause symptoms and lessen its long-term effects.

What are the symptoms of menopause to look out for?

While it’s important to note that every woman’s experience of menopause is different, there are common symptoms that are experienced by most women which we’ve listed below. The severity and duration of these symptoms also vary.

The typical symptoms of menopause are a mixture of physical and psychological.

Physical symptoms of menopause

  • Irregular periods: One of the first signs of the onset of menopause is irregular menstrual cycles. They can be longer or shorter, lighter or heavier, and can even stop suddenly with no warning. However, some women experience no change in their menstrual cycles.  
  • Vasomotor symptoms: This is the medical term for hot flushes and sweats. Most women describe this feeling as sudden heat in the chest, neck and face, often followed by sweating. 
  • Palpitations: Palpitations refer to the pounding or racing heartbeat some women feel, which can be accompanied by anxiety.
  • Headaches: New onset, or worsening of, headaches is another common symptom of menopause.

Other physical symptoms of menopause that women commonly report experiencing include:

  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains in joints and muscles
  • Weight gain
  • Increased fat deposition in abdominal region
  • Hair loss and hair thinning
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • Changes in libido (sex drive)
  • Bladder problems

Psychological symptoms of menopause

  • Mood swings: Many women will experience sudden changes in mood with no obvious cause.
  • Depression and anxiety: General low mood and anxiety symptoms are also common in menopausal women.
  • Brain fog: One of the most commonly described psychological symptoms of menopause is brain fog. This refers to changes in cognitive function, including problems with memory and concentration.

Other commonly reported effects include loss of self-confidence and reduced self-esteem. Physical symptoms like weight gain, hair loss and sexual difficulty also contribute to this, while disrupted sleep from night sweats causes tiredness and irritability.

Again, it is important to note that not all women experience all these symptoms, and for many they are very mild. So, though it may sound worrying, there is no guarantee that you will experience the worst symptoms of menopause, but if you do, there’s lots that can be done to help. 

Menopause symptoms to look out for

Do menopausal symptoms change with age?

Menopause generally occurs between the ages of 45-55, with 51 being the average age for women in the UK. Menopause is said to be “early” if it occurs between ages 40-45 and “premature” at any age below 40. 

Menopause symptoms can fluctuate and change over time. In general, women who experience menopause earlier than the usual age tend to have more symptoms than women who experience it later. For most women, hot flushes, sweats and brain fog improve as they get older, but for others this is not the case.


What can cause the worsening of menopause symptoms?

Although it is often not clear why some symptoms become worse in some women, we know that some lifestyle factors may have an impact, including:

  • Diet: Sometimes, women report becoming much more sensitive to certain foods. Also, there is some evidence that women who follow a plant-based diet may experience fewer hot flushes and sweats than women who don’t.
  • Dehydration: Not staying sufficiently hydrated may also be associated with worse symptoms including hot flushes, headaches, palpitations, nausea, fatigue, and brain fog. 
  • Alcohol and smoking: Many women find that alcohol makes their menopausal symptoms, and in particular, hot flushes, worse. There’s actually a biological reason for this. Firstly, women have lower levels of alcohol-metabolising enzymes than men, but also, the changes in women’s fat-to-water ratio that occur during menopause mean that alcohol levels in the blood rise more quickly and take longer to get rid of, resulting in more pronounced alcohol effects. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy a glass of wine, but it’s important to be aware of its effects on you. As well as its known harmful effects in increasing the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and breast cancer, smoking is also toxic to the ovaries, and so may worsen menopause symptoms.
  • Stress: Stress increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol which is known to block the action of estrogen. This may be why some women notice that their menopause symptoms are worse when they’re stressed. Understanding the reasons you get stressed and actively doing things to reduce this such as practising relaxation techniques and mindfulness have been shown to have a beneficial effect on menopause symptoms.

What are the long-term health implications of menopause?

Estrogen has an extremely important protective role in the body, with receptors present on nearly all cells, not just in the reproductive and genital organs. As estrogen production declines during menopause, the risk of certain medical conditions increases. 

These include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Osteoporosis (bone thinning)
  • Muscle loss and joint problems
  • Cataracts
  • Weight gain
  • Urinary incontinence 
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Problems with sexual function
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy (thinning of the vaginal walls)

Recognising menopause symptoms early is crucial for women to be able to make the health and lifestyle choices that mean they can enter menopause in the best shape possible. 

The symptoms mentioned here can sound worrying, but there are many ways to manage them. In the next section, you’ll find essential information about the most common menopause symptoms, why they happen, and how to alleviate them.

We cover:

  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Sore breasts
  • Itchy skin
  • Hair loss
  • Joint pain
  • Brain fog
  • Crying
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Unusual menopause symptoms


Menopause Support

Support and treatment for menopause symptoms

Menopause symptoms can sound worrying, but there are many ways to manage them. There are good treatments available to help menopause symptoms, like Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Diet and lifestyle changes also make a big difference. 

At NewWoman Health, we help women manage and minimise menopause symptoms in an uplifting, affirmative way with our range of specialist treatments, including:

  • Personalised medical consultations
  • Personalised one-to-one fitness and well-being advice
  • Work and life coaching
  • Psychosexual counselling
  • Skin health advice
  • One-to-one nutritional advice
  • Weight management support
  • Women’s (pelvic) health physiotherapy

Whatever your symptoms, whatever your stage of life, we can help to ensure your menopause is a time of opportunity with our expert help. Book your personal consultation today to take the first step in ensuring the future quality, and potential longevity, of your life.

Book your menopause consultation today

Take the next step to taking control of your future and book a consultation with our specialist team today. Our doctors and experts will help you with a pragmatic, personalised plan to optimise your life and make your menopause transition a period of opportunity. 

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You are not alone. As a local example, in Manchester over 46% of council employees are female and over 40 years old. In a CIPD survey (2019) over 30% of women said they were unable to work because of menopausal symptoms.

Only 25% said they could tell their manager the real reason for their absence. The Council account for nearly 7% of all employment in Manchester. They implemented a new Menopause policy in March 2022. CIPD survey | Manchester Council Menopause Policy | CIPD Manchester

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