It wouldn’t be a surprise if you are shocked that there are 34 symptoms of menopause. After all, there has been an incredible gap in menopause education for women and it’s not something we were taught in science, health or even sex education classes. While there are 34 signs of menopause, it doesn’t mean you will experience them all as every woman’s experience of menopause is unique. You may experience a few and even others that aren’t on this list.
It’s also worth mentioning that there being a definitive 34 symptoms of menopause is a bit of a misnomer because every woman’s menopause is different. What we do know is that there are at least 34 symptoms that you could encounter.
You may experience many of these symptoms at different stages of your life but talk to your doctor if you think you might be going through menopause and have some of the symptoms below.
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What are the 34 symptoms of menopause?
Menopause is defined specifically as the one day in a woman’s life that comes exactly one year after her last period. For many women, this day goes by without them realising, especially if using hormonal contraception.
Most women go through menopause in their early 50s, but oestrogen levels begin to decrease up to 10 years before. During this time, you may experience some of the 34 symptoms of menopause. Read more about the stages of menopause.
Early or surgical menopause
Menopause doesn’t just happen in your 50s. Early menopause is when your periods stop before the age of 40. Menopause can occur spontaneously, or after surgery to remove your ovaries or following certain cancer treatments. Read our guide to induced and surgical menopause.
How are the 34 menopause symptoms grouped together?
When it comes to the menopause symptoms list, symptoms are separated into the following groups:
- Vasomotor: Hot flushes, night sweats, chills and heart palpitations are vasomotor symptoms, primarily caused when your blood vessels are dilating or contracting. As your hormone levels change during menopause, your body becomes more sensitive to temperature changes and your internal temperature control can malfunction.
- Psychological: Menopause is often described as a physical change, yet hormones have a massive impact on your mind, altering how you feel. Symptoms include mood swings, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, anger and low confidence.
- Somatic (physical): Symptoms can affect your whole body, including headaches, joint pain, sleep issues, weight gain and more. Changing hormone levels in your body can change its appearance, function and sensation.
- Urogenital (sex and pelvic floor): Your pelvic floor begins to weaken as you age, but this process can be exacerbated further as oestrogen declines. Symptoms include painful sex, low libido, urinary incontinence and vaginal discomfort.
Menopause symptoms checklist
You might not experience every single one of the 34 signs of menopause on our menopause symptoms checklist. If you find that a lot of these sound familiar or ring true with your experiences, then you might want to consider doing a little bit more research or speaking to your doctor for more advice.
1. Irregular and heavy periods
If your periods are becoming erratic or your flow is either lighter or heavier, you could be perimenopausal. If you have heavy or irregular periods, see your doctor for a check-up and to rule out any potentially treatable underlying causes. You may also want to ask about treatment options, which include hormone-releasing coils known as intrauterine systems (IUS). Brand names available are Mirena, Levosert and Benilexa. These can give relief from heavy bleeding. If you are not using hormonal birth control, you can track your period frequency in the run-up to menopause – your menopause has officially started after a year without a period. Read more about heavy periods during perimenopause and the IUS.
2. Hot flushes (Vasomotor)
A hot flush feels like a wave of heat flowing through your body and you may experience a red face and chest as your blood vessels dilate to cool you down. Out of the 34 symptoms of menopause, many women find hot flushes cause the most embarrassment and stress, especially at work. Read our tips on dealing with hot flushes at work and learn more about hot flushes in our symptoms library.
3. Night sweats (Vasomotor)
Suddenly being woken from sleep dripping wet with sweat and soaked bedclothes can be intensely frustrating and disruptive, leaving you exhausted the next day. Among the 34 symptoms of menopause, night sweats are one of the most common. Download the Stella app, for meditations specifically designed to help you calmly drift back off to sleep after a night sweat. See your doctor if your symptoms persist. Read more about sweating in our symptoms library.
4. Heart palpitations (Vasomotor)
You may notice your heart is suddenly beating fast, pounding or fluttering during your menopause journey. Sometimes this symptom accompanies a hot flush or panic attack. While they may make you feel worried, they are often harmless – talk to your doctor if they are happening to you. Reducing caffeine, alcohol and smoking can help keep your heart rate steady. Read more about heart palpitations in our symptoms library.
5. Mood swings (Psychological)
Hormones affect a woman’s mood from teenage years through to postmenopause. A decline in the oestrogen hormone during menopause can alter the way you process serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, your happiness hormones. This can make it harder to process your emotions. Nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management are important areas to focus on when you are feeling out of sorts.
6. Depression, unhappiness and loss of interest (Psychological)
Those changes to serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine can also contribute to feeling depressed or unhappy. You may feel flat, exhausted and that you’ve lost interest in things that used to give joy. Evidence indicates women who’ve experienced depression in the past may be more likely to have mood-related symptoms during menopause. Talk to your doctor for advice and support, and seek emergency help if you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Getting the blood pumping can help lift your mood – read Ida’s story on overcoming dark thoughts. Learn more about depression in our symptoms library.
7. Anxiety and tension (Psychological)
Main women report anxiety as one of the main 34 symptoms of menopause that they experience. Some describe it as having a constant feeling of overwhelm, tension and nervousness. Perhaps your anxiety is linked to the worry about another symptom striking, such as hot flushes or brain fog. The good news is therapy, exercise and mindfulness can help. Read our guide on how meditation can ease anxiety or how exercise helped Emily’s anxious thoughts. Learn more about anxiety in our symptoms library.
8. Panic attacks (Psychological)
Hormonal changes can lead to panic attacks which are horrible and frightening, even if harmless. They can be triggered by a feeling of intense fear even if there is no immediate threat to life. You can feel like you are going to die, faint, vomit or suffocate as you hyperventilate. There are ways to help reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks. Read Erin’s story on how she managed panic attacks or learn more about panic attacks in our symptoms library.
9. Irritability and anger (Psychological)
Feeling on edge or outright rage about even quite small things can be part of your menopausal journey. You might find anger harder to control or keep up that professional mask at work thanks to hormonal imbalances. Learn techniques to manage emotions during menopause by downloading the Stella app. A creative outlet may help, read Emily’s story on how profanity embroidery helped her deal with menopausal rage.
10. Feeling tearful (Psychological)
With emotions being harder to control during your menopause journey, you can feel close to tears or find yourself sobbing uncontrollably. Even if you were not a crier before, you may find the tears flow more freely during menopause.
11. Ability to perform daily tasks (Psychological)
Menopause and hormone changes can have an effect on your brain function and ability to complete daily tasks that used to require little thought or effort in the past. It is one of the most frustrating of the 34 symptoms of menopause. To help, keep your bed and sleep times consistent so you have maximum energy and see your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve. See our tips on helping improve sleep quality.
12. Low confidence (Psychological)
Imposter syndrome can strike during your menopause journey as symptoms and hormones fluctuate. You may find it hard to adjust if your appearance has changed or feel less capable than you used to. Read Kwavi’s story about how her confidence collapsed postmenopause and what helped.
13. Weight gain (Somatic)
Fat distribution and muscle mass change as you age and you may find your waistband is becoming a little snug. Perhaps your usual routine and nutrition no longer keep weight off and need adjusting? If your sleep is disrupted, it can be harder to control cravings. Read our tips for improving nutrition during menopause or learn more about weight gain in our symptoms library.
14. Digestive problems (Somatic)
Your gastrointestinal tract can suffer as oestrogen declines and cortisol rises, reducing stomach acid, slowing food digestion and causing stomach pain. Stress and anxiety can also cause digestion issues. It can help to plan meals with easily digestible foods, and see your doctor if your symptoms are severe or don’t settle. Read Meera’s experience of digestion issues during menopause.
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15. Headaches (Somatic)
Half of women experience headaches due to their menstrual cycle so it is no surprise they crop up during menopause. Whether you have migraines or tension headaches, keep an eye on triggers. If they are stress-related, meditation and yoga may help, as will a healthier lifestyle. Read more about headaches in our symptoms library and see your doctor if they persist – there are plenty of treatment options available.
16. Skin changes – dryness and acne (Somatic)
Hair, skin and nails can dry out during menopause, leading to irritation, itchiness, brittleness and hair breakage. You may even find spots that appear similar to your teenage years. Read our guide to five changes that happen to your skin during menopause. Learn more about skin changes in our symptoms library.
17. Skin sensations – pins and needles, tingling skin-crawling (Somatic)
Strange skin sensations, known as paraethesia, can appear during menopause, often in your hands and feet. It’s caused by fluctuating hormones interfering with your central nervous system. They can be uncomfortable and irritating, disrupting your sleep and concentration. Ease these odd feelings with gentle exercise, stretching and getting outside for walks and check in with your doctor if they persist, urgently if you have any new or severe symptoms. Learn more about skin changes in our symptoms library.
18. Restless legs (Somatic)
If you cannot keep your legs and arms still, especially at night, you may have restless legs. Out of the 34 symptoms of menopause, this is one that can keep you up all night. There is no known cause and it is often accompanied by pins and needles, tingling and skin-crawling. Learn more about restless legs syndrome in our symptoms library.
19. Itchiness (Somatic)
Your skin becomes dryer during menopause and you may feel the urge to itch your chest, back, neck, arms and legs. Keep nails short, resist the urge to scratch and try gentle soaps and emollient creams. Learn more about itchiness in our symptoms library.
20. Joint pain (Somatic)
You may notice more pain as your oestrogen declines as it maintains joint fluid levels and has a useful anti-inflammatory effect on your body. Dehydration and weight gain can make joint pain worse so drink plenty of water and focus on nutrition. Read more about aches and pains in our symptoms library.
21. Aches and pains (Somatic)
It’s only when hormones decrease during menopause do you realise how much work they did when you were younger! Oestrogen has an anti-inflammatory effect which helps muscles and joints and reduces pain. Download Stella for exercises to stretch muscles and build strength. Learn more about aches and pains in our symptoms library.
22. Dry or burning mouth (Somatic)
A dry or a burning mouth can be a really unpleasant symptom of menopause. Hormone fluctuations can interfere with saliva production, causing a dry, hot or burning sensation in the mouth, lips and cheeks, even leaving a metallic taste in your mouth. Keep hydrated and sipping cold drinks or sucking on ice can offer relief. See your doctor if it doesn’t improve.
23. Thinning hair (Somatic)
Are you noticing more hair on the floor or in your hairbrush? Oestrogen and progesterone help with hair growth and you may see more hair loss as these hormones decline. Your diet, stress and illness have an impact on hair health too. Bleach and artificial hair dyes can also damage hair follicles and accelerate hair loss. Embracing your silver and choosing your haircare products carefully could help your mane stay fuller for longer. Read our tips on how to handle your hair during menopause.
24. Difficulty concentrating and brain fog (Somatic)
Losing your train of thought, forgetting a word or being unable to remember why you went upstairs can make you fear you have Alzheimer’s when it is actually brain fog. It is often described as feeling like your head is full of cotton wool. It can be very embarrassing at work, especially if you have a public speaking role. Read how Lisa managed brain fog during menopause or learn more about brain fog in our symptoms library. Speak to your doctor if your symptoms of brain fog become troublesome.
25. Changes in body odour (Somatic)
You can feel quite repelled by the way you smell during menopause as your natural scent changes due to hormone fluctuations. Some women report that their sweat smells stronger and this is exacerbated if you experience hot flushes and night sweats. Read more about sweating during menopause in our symptoms library.
26. Feeling tired or low in energy (Somatic)
When looking at this list of the 34 symptoms of menopause, can it be a surprise if you are lacking your usual mojo and energy levels? So many of them disrupt your sleep and can leave you out of juice and feeling exhausted. Learn more about fatigue in our symptoms library and see your doctor if needed – they will be able to help rule out any underlying causes.
27. Difficulty sleeping (Somatic)
Menopause can seriously interrupt your sleep, from drifting off quickly to staying asleep and even waking too early. It’s also a challenge to manage racing thoughts at 3 am, night sweats and exhaustion the next day. Get on top of your bedtime routine with a set bedtime, no screens and a relaxing activity before you head to bed. There are many lifestyle habits that can improve sleep too. Learn more about sleep in our symptoms library.
28. Dry eyes and visual problems (Somatic)
Your eyes can become drier as oestrogen levels decline and other conditions like ocular rosacea become more common, These can cause painful, itchy or burning sensations in your eyes. Our reliance on screens at work and home can make this a real problem. Talk to your pharmacist about eye drops or talk to your doctor if the symptoms do not improve or worsen.
29. Low libido (Urogenital)
If sex is the last thing you feel like at the moment, you can blame your hormones. Oestrogen and other sex hormones fluctuate during menopause and can lower your desire for sex. Stress, anxiety and low self-esteem can also make getting in the mood pretty darn difficult. There is good news, sex can be part of your future if you want it to be. Read more about sex during menopause.
30. Vaginal dryness and discomfort (Urogenital)
By this point, “dryness” may seem like an unpleasantly recurring theme in the 34 symptoms of menopause list. Hormonal changes mean vaginal tissues become thinner and more at risk of tearing and inflammation. There are many effective treatments available. Read Louise’s story about finding treatment to relieve vaginal atrophy. Learn more about vaginal discomfort in our symptoms library.
31. Bladder problems (Urogenital)
Your pelvic floor can weaken as you age and you need these muscles to stop you from leaking, especially when sneezing, coughing or laughing. If you are finding you are needing the loo without much warning or leaking pee, download Stella for exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. Learn more about urinary incontinence in our symptoms library.
32. Painful sex (Urogenital)
Vaginal pain during penetrative sex can be incredibly frustrating if you enjoy sex. Taking the focus off penetration can help, as can the use of sex toys and non-irritant lubricants. Also, open communication is a great starting point – learn how to start rebuilding intimacy with your partner.
33. Vaginal prolapse (Urogenital)
Your uterus, urethra, bladder or rectum can droop into your vagina as you age and pelvic floor muscles weaken. It can be a very uncomfortable symptom of menopause and can be improved with daily pelvic floor exercises. Learn more about vaginal prolapse in our symptoms library.
34. Recurring UTIs (Urogenital)
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections in the urethra and most women have experienced one at some point in their lives. They become more likely during menopause, especially after sex, as your vaginal tissue thins and the bacteria in your genital area changes. If you have repeated UTIs, talk to your doctor. Read more about UTIs in our symptoms library.
The list of 34 symptoms of menopause is likely to terrify you and it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean that you will experience all of them or even some of them. Each woman experiences different symptoms with different levels of severity and frequency. So hold that thought!
Many of these symptoms can be treated effectively, either with HRT, other medications or lifestyle tweaks. As always, your own doctor is the best person to advise you on the best treatment options available for you.