The 5 Worst Menopause Symptoms Nobody Ever Told You About [by Lynette Sheppard RN]
Menopause felt like a semi-truck hit me. And flattened me. One day, I was a fit, focused midlife woman; the next day a sweaty, cranky, perimenopausal creature took her place.
My friend, Theresa, was flattened by the same truck. We had never heard that menopause could be life-shattering. Was something very wrong with us or was this normal?
So, we got together with fifteen other women and started our research on Menopause & it's symptoms - and share it with women through our Menopause Goddess Blog.
The internet abounds with information. Still, the information available is incomplete. The Big Five symptoms that we always seem to hear about are these:
Hot Flashes & night sweats.
Loss of sex drive
These are important issues and it’s wonderful that they have been addressed. But the symptoms about which Menopause Goddess Blog gets the most correspondence consist of another Five: I call them the Forgotten Five.
And readers express more distress and angst about each of these life-altering manifestations than the aforementioned Big Five combined. It’s time to bring them out into the open so that we can understand and cope with them.
1. Brain Fog
Our very ability to think, problem-solve, and process information is compromised. It feels like we are literally losing our minds. And we don’t know if we will ever get them back.
Lists help. Getting enough sleep helps, too.
I even take a supplement: acetyl-l-carnitine which was recommended by my MD.
Online brain games such as Lumosity and Brain HQ can help with memory, focus, and problem-solving.
While brain fog is temporary, it can be terrifying. It helps to remember that it is normal.
Whether we suddenly suffer from the night terrors, generalized anxiousness, or a sense of impending doom, anxiety can pervade our everyday life during perimenopause and menopause.
Worse, those of us who have rarely been scared or jittery may suddenly worry about almost everything. Again, we start to doubt our very sanity.
Meditation, remembering to breathe, and focusing on what is happening in the present moment is helpful in relieving anxiousness. When suffering the “what ifs”, it’s also important to give ourselves a reality check by asking “how likely is x to actually happen?”
Chamomile tea, lavender essential oil, and CBD oil are all calming preparations that can aid with anxiety.
3. Hair Loss
Women often associate hair with femininity. I know I did. When my hair began thinning and falling out, I was panicked.
More than half of our Menopause Goddess sisters have suffered the same condition. Dermatologists and hairdressers tell us “It’s just hormonal.” Which is about as helpful as saying that Hurricane Katrina was “just a weather phenomenon”.
Layered haircuts, shampoos formulated for thin hair, and volumizing products work wonders. Highlighting or hair coloring actually thickens the hair shaft giving hair more body and fullness.
Eventually, our hair stabilizes although it rarely is as thick as before menopause.
Bone-crushing fatigue can overtake you during perimenopause and menopause. I don’t know why – perhaps Changing on a molecular level (that’s how it feels) takes a lot out of us. Whatever the reason, it is a common, miserable part of the menopause experience for many women.
Exercise helps in two ways. It energizes us when we are active (even though it may feel like it’s impossible to get started.) It also helps us sleep more deeply. Restful sleep can combat the worst of the fatigue. Eating a lighter, more plant-based diet allows for more energy.
5. Immune Dysfunction
While menopause is a normal transition for a woman, it seems to take a toll. This may be the time that a woman has her first outbreak of Shingles (a herpes infection related to chickenpox). Or an illness comes out of nowhere like Rheumatoid Arthritis or a serious infection. (Half of our Menopause Goddess Group, a very healthy, active subset had this happen to them.)
I contracted a cardiac virus that thankfully resolved with little complications to save elevated blood pressure and rapid heart rate requiring medication.
Boost your immune system as you reach perimenopausal age. Myriad supplements and nutrients are available - find what’s right for you. While it may seem obvious, healthy eating, stress reduction, and exercise all help with immunity.
Of course, it’s important to seek medical attention to rule out more serious conditions related to the above symptoms. If your check-ups are fine, then I have important news for you. The worst of the menopause symptoms are normal. And temporary. You can repeat this as a mantra “it’s normal and it’s temporary.” We’re women. We can handle anything as long as we know what to expect.
Note: For a how-to on starting a group like ours, visit Menopause Goddess Blog and put “Creating Your Own Menopause Goddess Group” in the search box. You won’t be sorry and it just might save your sanity.