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  • Writer's pictureKaren Bigman

Common Symptoms of Menopause-No You Don't have to live with them!

Most of us are familiar with some of the symptoms of menopause. Whether you’ve experienced them or watched a loved one suffering through them. I can still remember my mom walking around with a portable, battery-operated fan to help her cool down during excessive hot flashes.

I suffered some fairly common symptoms through my perimenopausal years yet had no idea that they could be related to the hormonal changes I was facing. In my early 40s I began a downward emotional spiral into clinical depression. I had spent many of my adult years complaining of being depressed but was rarely taken seriously. It wasn’t until my weight plummeted, sleep evaded me and crying was my standard operating procedure, that my therapist suggested perhaps I was having more than just a little sadness.

Whether my depression worsened because my hormones changed or vice versa, I’ll never know. Heart palpitations lead to a full cardio work up (nothing wrong there). Thinning hair led to minoxidil treatments. I was so worried about losing my hair that I even investigated a hair transplant.

More enlightened now that I’ve begun working in the menopause space, I can probably deduce that my hormonal fluctuations played a large role in my symptoms.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of menopause:

· Hot flashes

· cold flashes

· night sweats

· clammy feelings

· heart palpitations

· Irritability

· mood swing,

· trouble sleeping

· Irregular periods

· low sex drive

· dry vagina

· fatigue

· anxiety

· depression

· lack of focus

· Faulty memory

· incontinence

· itchy crawly skin

· achy joints and muscles

· tense muscles

· sore breasts

· headaches

· digestive issues

· bloating

· worsened allergies

· weight gain

· hair loss or thinning

· more facial hair

· dizziness, vertigo

· Changed body odor

· Electric shock feelings

· tingling extremities

· bleeding gums

· burning tongue or roof of your mouth

· chronic bad breath

· osteoporosis

· weakened fingernails

· ringing in your ears or tinnitus

As a non-medical professional, I'm not going to say for certain that these are symptoms that are related to menopause, however, if you’re experiencing a multitude of these symptoms or even one that is causing significant difficulty in your life and you’re over 40, it would behoove you to go see a medical professional who specializes in menopause (there are increasingly more women under 40 that are also experiencing early menopause. Don’t rule it out if you’re under 40).

How can all these symptoms be related to menopause?

During perimenopause, hormones related to your reproductive cycle begin to fluctuate. At some point, they level out at a much lower base line, and you stop getting your period. The official definition of menopause is 12 months without a period. Then you’re post-menopausal.

It’s during the transition (perimenopause) that the symptoms typically surface. Not every woman will experience every symptom. In fact, some women don’t experience any symptoms at all. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to how you will experience menopause which I won’t go into here. I do want to explain why these seemingly unrelated symptoms may occur for you.

During perimenopause, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can fluctuate wildly. Your hormones work in a feedback loop from your ovaries to your brain (or your brain to your ovaries) and ultimately impact all the systems in your body.

There are estrogen receptors in almost every system in your body, not just the female reproductive organs. These hormones regulate multiple complex processes in your body. Your central and peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, metabolism and body composition as well as, your gastrointestinal system.

(Diagram courtesy of Girls Gone Strong)

Do not let your doctor dismiss you if you are having any of these or other unusual symptoms. And if they do dismiss you, find another practitioner. The North American Menopause Society has a list of Menopause Certified Practitioners.

Once you’ve determined that indeed your symptoms are menopause related, there are a plethora of possible solutions including Hormone Therapy, changes to your diet, exercise and several medications that can really help mitigate your discomfort.

There is absolutely no reason you should be suffering!

Interested in learning more? Subscribe to the Taboo to Truth Podcast here.

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