Menopause is a normal, uncomfortable, and unique experience for women. It’s certainly not abrupt, and the signs and symptoms of menopause can last for what seems like forever. This is why we like to refer to menopause as a transition and not a change. From skipped periods to hot flashes, acne and restless sleep in your late 30s, early 40s, or even your early 50s, every single woman’s transition is a bit different from another. Know what to look for with these 5 signs and symptoms of menopause and what to do about them!
What Is Menopause
Ah, the change. The transition phase from being a fertile woman to never having to worry about a period again (now that’s a plus!). The menopausal transition can last about 7 years and up to about 14 years. The body undergoes a major hormonal transition where the production of estrogen and progesterone completely changes. The body will use energy differently, fat cells change, weight gain can set in as well as changes in bone health.
Menopause happens when you haven’t had a period for 12 straight months. It’s a completely normal part of aging and every woman will eventually go through it.
Menopause can be triggered naturally or by having a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries). However, while many focus on the physical changes that happen with menopause, there’s a wide array of mental and emotional ones that come along with it. This is where it’s important to remember - you’re not alone, there are resources and options, and a vast community of other women out there looking to help and guide you along the way.
How Do I Know If I’m In Menopause?
Early signs and symptoms of menopause happen in the phase called ‘perimenopause’, which happens in the years leading up to menopause. You might experience hot flashes or irregular periods, for example, or some of the other signs and symptoms of menopause that we mention in this article. If you’re experiencing some of the common symptoms of early menopause, you can inquire with your physician and even get a blood test to check your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol (E2) levels which rule out other factors for the symptoms/changes you might be experiencing.
While no woman knows when the time will come, what you can do is pay attention to your body and listen to what it is trying to tell you. You might experience every symptom on the menopause spectrum out there are you might barely experience any of the signs and symptoms of menopause altogether. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, don’t forget to have grace with yourself and this transition period.
5 Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
Understanding that the things we experience during menopause are real can make a big difference. The hot flashes, the mental changes, the moody blues, the agitation, and inflammation are all completely normal, and in fact, real symptoms. While seeing your general practitioner will help you understand what is going on biologically, talking with others, reading material and blogs, and sharing with a support group can help exponentially.
You’re not alone – here are some of the symptoms of menopause you should be aware of.
Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause: Unintentional Weight Gain
While a loss of estrogen is often to blame for unintentional weight gain, there are other contributing factors to the little extra body fat gain that you may encounter. Not sleeping, not exercising, giving into cravings, and not adhering to a nutritious lifestyle can all contribute to unintentional weight gain.9 The diet that worked for you in your 20s isn’t going to suffice and you're going to have to make some changes if you've got an unhealthy relationship with food. The best way to nourish from the inside out? Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, functional carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Give your body a chance to feel good with the food that you give it. After all, it will not only help you through the change, but long after, as well!
During premenopausal and menopause changes, women’s lean muscle mass decreases and metabolism slows contributing to weight gain. Estrogen and hormonal replacement therapy techniques may be used to manage other negative symptoms of menopause but some research has found that HRT can improve overall body composition and reduce abdominal fat.10
Weight gain is common, but you’re not doomed to experience it. Making a healthy and active lifestyle a priority will be the biggest and most important lifestyle modification to prevent unintentional weight gain as you go through the change and beyond.
Need help with your diet? Schedule a free nutrition consultation with a professional to help you navigate the transition like a pro!
Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause: Depression & Menopause
It’s okay to feel a little down as long as you don’t get too down. Depressive symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Hormone changes are usually to blame for psychological distress, agitation, depression and just plain old being blue. Not to mention, menopausal women are often the butt of jokes, making us feel even worse about what we’re going through.
Symptoms of Depression:
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of guilt
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Trouble Concentrating
- Loss of Interest
The severity of symptoms vary for women in menopause and this also influences how depression is treated. There’s nothing wrong with depression, but there is something wrong with not seeking care. Hormone therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressants, and support groups are just a few of the treatment options. But not all depressive symptoms are severe.8
If you’re feeling the moody blues a bit more than other times in your life, becoming aware and validating your feelings and behaviors enable you to make a positive change in your life. Your environment, your social interactions, and your overall health can both negatively and positively affect your mood. Surround yourself with positivity, and if you find yourself falling into a negativity trap, find a new surrounding before it goes too far. Good nutrition, social groups, and regular exercise can help ease the transition while hanging out alone all the time can certainly make them worse.
If you find yourself experiencing severe depression, which can be an absolute reality, please seek help from a friend or physician. If you’ve experienced depression or depressive symptoms in the past, you’re going to be more at risk for developing them during the hormonal transition, or menopause. The transition isn’t just about physical change; it’s about mental and emotional change, as well. You need to take care of your entire body, not just part of it, with self-love, appreciation, and acknowledgment.
Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause: Hot Flashes & Cold Sweats
Boy oh boy, are these a bummer! Most women would ration the other symptoms of the menopausal transition instead of experiencing cold sweats and hot flashes. Vasomotor Instability is the official word for it, or temperature fluctuations within the body, are regulated as a byproduct of brain signaling. Typical flashes last about 4 minutes and are one of the most common signs and symptoms of menopause. Nearly 75% of women in the menopausal transition report experiencing hot flashes leading to cardiac palpitations, obvious perspiration, and heightened anxiety.6
Think of it as standing next to the thermostat all day, turning it all the way up, then when it gets too hot inside, turning it all the way down, making it too cold. Basically, your internal temperature regulation is a little wacky and it’s having a hard time finding it’s homeostasis or baseline. Some women only experience these in mild cases or only at night, while others are in full-blown poor temperature regulation, so what are you to do?
The other bad news is this – temperature fluctuations during menopause can last for… years. Eeek! The good news is that you can positively influence it prior to going through the transition. By maintaining a lower/healthier bodyweight it’s been proven that vasomotor symptoms are reduced during the menopause transition as compared to those who enter the transition as overweight or obese. Natural remedies and non-pharmacologic options are recommended to treat hot and cold flashes. This includes slow, diaphragmatic breathing, relaxation techniques (essential oils for example), and minimizing potential triggers like smoking, tight clothing, and stressful environments.7
If your symptoms are absolutely extreme and too severe for you to work through them, we recommend visiting your physician.
Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause: Poor Quality Sleep or Not Sleeping At All
Are you finding yourself counting all the stars in the sky at night? Restless and poor quality sleep stinks. Tossing and turning through the night is a pretty normal symptom while going through the menopause transition, unfortunately. Trouble sleeping leads to poor functioning, recovery, and quality of life.
While avoiding caffeine, exercising early in the day, not taking naps, and supplementing with a sleep supplement can help you get to sleep better and stay asleep longer. Supplementing with ZMT, a sleep supplement from Swolverine that contains high levels of magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc can ease the negative symptoms of menopause (mood swings & bloating3) while contributing to better quality sleep5, lower levels of cortisol4, and maintaining bone density2.
Lastly, create a consistent and relaxing bedtime ritual. Start relaxing, turning down the lights, take your ZMT, avoid your electronics, read a book, apply your nighttime creams, tinkle, and brush your teeth. This will signify to your body that sleep is coming soon! It’s imperative for you to get quality sleep, and the more you have to do to achieve it, the more you’re going to have to do. Simple as that.
Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause: Intimacy, or Lack There Of
It’s okay – sometimes this can be hard to talk about, so we’ll talk to you about it instead. Menopause incites transitions within your body that have to do with both your hormones and your reproductive system. But reproduction isn’t the only way you use your down under.
Menopause can also transition the way you respond to intimacy, how much you feel like experiencing, and even how it feels. Symptoms like vaginal dryness, low sex drive, pain, and inability to enjoy intimacy are a few of the most popular signs of menopause that women experience regularly. When estrogen levels drop, you lose your natural ability to lubricate. This symptom alone can be one of the most discouraging and emotionally challenging symptoms of menopause. Research suggests that 40-50 percent of women experience vaginal dryness during menopause.1
Natural treatment of vaginal dryness includes estrogen hormone therapy, via pill or cream, having sex on a regular basis, avoiding over-cleaning the vagina and vaginal area, eating foods rich in phytoestrogens, wearing breathable undies, and not being ashamed of talking to someone about the symptoms. You may be able to fix the issue as easy as using a lubricant during intimate sessions, not too shabby, huh!
After you go through menopause there’s post-menopause, a time when women are the most vulnerable to things like heart disease and osteoporosis. This is where a diet full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, proteins, and functional carbohydrates really comes into play. Not only will it keep your bones and heart strong, but it’ll help you maintain lean muscle mass and a healthy weight for the future. It’s important to note that once a woman’s period is gone for a complete year, she has entered into full menopause and there’s no going back.
The signs and symptoms of menopause help women navigate the transitional change with more grace and ease. Prioritize a lifestyle with regular exercise, lots of nutrients from your food, and supplement when necessary. Menopause doesn’t have to have control over of your life, and if it is, take a trip to your general practitioner or your gynecologist to have a conversation about it. Don’t be bashful or shy, they’re medical professionals with your best interest at heart, even if it’s the most vulnerable part of your body and your life. This part of your life can actually, believe it or not, get better with time. Now that’s a positive!
Need Help Balancing Your Hormones During Your Transition?
ZMT contains powerful ingredients to help you sleep and regulate your hormones, by naturally raising testosterone levels. Testosterone is a very powerful hormone and in fact, testosterone is the most abundant biologically active hormone in women.
Some of the benefits of testosterone support with women include
- Increasing positivity and mood
- Elevating Overall Vitality
- Enhancing Sexual Desire
SWOLVERINE IS AN ENDURANCE ATHLETE AND ACTIVE LIFESTYLE BRAND. MADE FOR THE ELITE ATHLETE, AND THE STRONG-WILLED OUR PRODUCTS WERE DESIGNED TO FUEL YOUR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE. WE PERFORM WHEN YOU PERFORM.
We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.
King DE, Mainous AG, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24(3):166-71.
Walker AF, Desouza
MC, Vickers MF, Abeyasekera S, Collins ML, Trinca LA. Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. J Womens Health. 1998;7(9):1157-65.
Facchinetti F, Borella P, Sances G, Fioroni L, Nappi RE, Genazzani AR. Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Obstet Gynecol. 1991;78(2):177-81.
Held K, Antonijevic IA, Künzel H, et al. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002;35(4):135-43.
Bavelloni A, Piazzi M, Raffini M, Faenza I, Blalock WL. Prohibitin 2: At a communications crossroads. IUBMB Life. 2015;67(4):239-54.
Bavelloni A, Piazzi M, Raffini M, Faenza I, Blalock WL. Prohibitin 2: At a communications crossroads. IUBMB Life. 2015;67(4):239-54.
Proietto J. Obesity and weight management at menopause. Aust Fam Physician. 2017;46(6):368-370.
Kozakowski J, Gietka-czernel M, Leszczyńska D, Majos A. Obesity in menopause - our negligence or an unfortunate inevitability?. Prz Menopauzalny. 2017;16(2):61-65.