15 Surprising Menopause Symptoms You May Not Know About

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Which are the first symptoms that come to your mind at the mention of menopause? Hot flashes, period problems, night sweats, and sleep problems. Right? The other day, I went through a 2018 study on 180 women in the 40-45 age group. The results were as expected. Around 52% of the women had experienced menopause.

Of them, around 56% weren’t aware of most of the menopausal symptoms. About 34.4% of the women mentioned an absent period as the symptom of menopause, while 32.8% spoke of irritability, and 27.8% mentioned hot flashes. The most common and most known symptom of menopause is hot flashes, seen in almost 80% of women.

However, if you are under the impression that menopause is only about hot flashes, night sweats, mood issues, and vaginal dryness, you are mistaken. There is a lot more to know and understand, much more than you can imagine. No, my intention isn’t to scare you but to make you aware of the umpteen lesser-known symptoms that hormonal imbalances because of menopause can bring in.

Before we get any further, here’s a word or two about me. This is Dr. Karen Pike. I’ve been associated with the medical field for a long. If you were to ask me what made me write more about menopause, well, in a word, I would say that it is the lessened awareness among women. In the ER, I would find that almost nine of the ten women I encountered didn’t know the basics of menopause. This is when I decided to reach out to women on a broader scale through my writings. So, let’s get started.

15 Lesser Known and Surprising Symptoms of Menopause 

Women in their mid-40s often complain of things happening together, like their skin getting drier than before, their hair getting thinner, or even a change in their hearing. Most of these changes can be attributed to the hormonal fluctuations a woman experiences.

Burning Mouth Syndrome 

A woman in the ER once complained that she would often feel her tongue, gums, and lips burning to the extent as if someone had put something hot inside. I have heard many women saying that feeling was similar to what you experience when your tongue gets burnt after you’ve sipped or eaten something hot. The low estrogen levels are responsible for the same. Around 18-33% of menopausal women experience burning mouth syndrome, as per studies.

Tingling Sensations

If you thought estrogen only helped in reproduction, you were wrong. It influences other systems of the body as well. So, when your estrogen levels are low and fluctuate, it negatively impacts the central nervous system. This leads to varied sensations in the skin.

You could experience tingling, crawling, burning, cold, or even a pin-and-needle sensation on your hands, face, and feet. A patient once said that the tingling sensation in her legs and hands was so intense that it would wake her from sleep.

Cold Flashes

You are more acquainted with hot flashes. But what about a cold flash? Most of you may experience a cold flash right after a hot flash. It’s the cold, chilly feeling you may have right after all the heat and sweat. Though, the exact cause is yet to be known. However, the reason is similar to hot flashes. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls body temperature.

A reduction in the estrogen level disrupts the function of the hypothalamus, lessening the brain’s ability to regulate body temperature. This leads to a fluctuation in the body temperature from extreme heat to immense cold.

Thinning of Hair 

A study on 200 women in the postmenopause phase showed that around 52.2% experienced hair thinning. Many women in their mid-40s and 50s often tell me how their thick tresses seem to be thinning with every passing time.

Hair thinning is one of the symptoms of menopause that most of us aren’t aware of. The fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone cause a shrinkage in the hair follicles, resulting in lessened hair growth and increased shedding,

Vertigo or Dizziness 

Feelings of dizziness and lightheadedness are other less-known symptoms of menopause. The drop in estrogen levels is mainly responsible for the same. However, that’s not the only reason.

Fatigue after a hot flash episode can also lead to dizzy spells. Moreover, menopause even takes a toll on your hearing sometimes, which may lead to vertigo issues, balance problems, and lightheadedness.

Brittle Nails 

Little did you think that changes in your fingernails may also happen when you reach menopause age? The protein keratin that helps keep your nails hard and strong gets affected due to low estrogen levels. Lessened keratin production makes the nails soft and thin so they can split, break, and crack easily.

Alterations in your Body Odor

Women who have increased episodes of hot flashes and night sweats may notice a change in their body odor on the unpleasant side. This would elevate further when you have trigger foods like caffeine, alcohol, or spicy foods.

Metallic Taste 

Some women may experience a metallic taste due to menopause. This is caused by the fluctuation and reduction in estrogen levels that also affects your taste buds. If you don’t maintain oral hygiene, this will be aggravated further.

Itchy and Dry Skin

Collagen and natural oils significantly maintain the skin’s elasticity, moisture, and suppleness. Low estrogen levels also lessen the supply of collagen, resulting in dry, elastic, tight, and itchy skin. It’s a less-known symptom but not rare. Around 50% of menopausal women experience skin-related disorders.

Cognitive Issues 

Cognitive impairment may come as a surprise to many, but that doesn’t mean it is rare. Around 2/3rds of women are likely to experience the same in perimenopause and menopause. The low estrogen levels may disrupt the functioning of the brain cells, resulting in cognitive issues. Many women struggle to pay attention, solve problems, make decisions, or memorize things.

Vaginal Pain

Vaginal dryness is common but vaginal pain as a menopause symptom seems unheard of, right? Low estrogen causes the vaginal walls to become inflamed, dried, and thin. This results in vaginal pain, particularly during intercourse.

Less Full Breasts

Many women find their breasts to appear less fuller than before after 40. They may experience other symptoms as well, like soreness, burning sensation, or pain in their breasts. You can attribute all of these to the hormonal imbalances.

Dry Eyes 

I wouldn’t call this a rare symptom of menopause because 61% of women in the perimenopause and menopause stage go through it. However, few people know low estrogen levels are often responsible for dry eyes. Estrogen maintains the eye’s immune system, producing, draining, and evaporating tears. Its reduced levels could cause your eyes to become dry, itchy, teary, and watery.

Tinnitus 

Your ear cells have estrogen receptors, which aid in proper hearing. When there is a reduction in the estrogen levels, it affects the auditory functioning. Research shows that high estrogen levels facilitate better hearing in frequencies higher than 2000 Hz. In contrast, reduced levels impair hearing. So, if you are in your mid-40s and experience a clicking, humming, buzzing, or roaring sound, it could be due to menopause or any underlying condition. Women with a pre-existing tinnitus condition may experience a severity in their condition during menopause.

Other Symptoms 

I mentioned just a few of the lesser-known symptoms of menopause above. But that’s not it. It’s a long list, indeed. Heart palpitations, headaches, digestive disorders, allergies, digestive disorders, voice change, dry mouth, changes in taste and smell, and so on.

Tips to Manage the Less Common Menopausal Symptoms 

I am giving you a few quick tips, which I often tell my female patients when they tell me of the array of issues they experience, especially in their midlife.

  • For burning mouth syndrome, stay hydrated, and suck ice chips for relief. Avoid carbonated beverages, coffee, acidic foods, and juices. Say away from alcohol and tobacco products also.
  • For a crawling sensation, identify the riggers causing it. Try relaxation techniques to manage stress. Maintain proper skin hygiene.
  • Add a layer of clothing to feel warm when you have a cold flash. Keep moving, as that helps increase your body’s temperature. If you’ve experienced a ho0t flash, immediately change your wet clothes or bedding. That may save you from a cold flash.
  • If you are recurrently going through hair loss, eat well, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, manage stress, and, above all, avoid using straightening irons and hair dryers that may cause hair breakage and loss.
  • Having a balanced diet and drinking sufficient water helps manage dizziness to a greater extent.
  • To deal with brittle nails, moisturize them well with cream without harsh chemicals, and take special care of your diet. Also, wear gloves when doing household chores, saving your nails from damage.
  • A warm compress will provide relief for those struggling to manage dry eyes. Lessen screen time, and wear sunglasses while going out. Relaxation techniques also help.

Conclusion 

I hope the mention of these symptoms makes you aware of all that your body can go through when you are transitioning into menopause. Above all, I would say that if you experience any problem for long, do not pass it off as menopause woes. It could be an underlying condition, too. So, consult the doctor at once for prompt treatment.