6 Little-Known Menopause Symptoms That Aren't Just Hot Flushes

Those can be the tip of the iceberg (or fireball, I guess).
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Menopause comes for about half of us ― but it can sometimes feel like the medical world has yet to catch up to that reality.

Speaking to the CEO of gut health company ZOE Jonathan Wolf on his podcast, gynaecologist Dr. Mary Claire Haver and Dr. Sarah Berry, an associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, talked menopause.

And when asked by Wolf “Do most women know that they have started to go through menopause?”, Dr. Haver simply replied, “No.”

Thankfully, both experts shared some of the lesser-known symptoms related to menopause in the episode. Here are just six:

1) A “frozen” shoulder

Dr. Haver revealed that “about 80%” of menopausal people experience musculoskeletal issues, “and for 20% of them, it’s their worst symptom, their most life-disrupting symptom.”

In particular, she sees a lot of people with adhesive capsulitis, or “frozen shoulder.”

“You get the lack of movement. It’s really painful. You can’t put your hand behind your back, put on your bra,” she said.

You should “Immediately go to orthopedic surgery” or speak to your doctor when you notice this, she warns, as it can worsen.

2) Alzheimer’s-like symptoms

Brain fog can seem like a mild term for what some menopausal people face, Dr. Haver said in the ZOE podcast.

“You think you have dementia. You think you’re on the path to Alzheimer’s, especially if you have a family history and here you are, suddenly forgetful, suddenly struggling for words,” she shared.

Dr. Berry agreed, saying that while she never experienced hot flushes ― which is sometimes the only symptom people associate with menopause ― she did experience “terrible brain fog.”

3) Panic attacks

When a hot flush takes place, Dr. Haver says, “Quite often it’s preceded by a panic attack. In some patients, you get this level of anxiety, then you get really hot, then you start sweating.”

It can happen anywhere, she adds ― “This could be in the middle of a boardroom presentation, in the middle of teaching children, you know, at any point of your life.”

4) UTIs and vaginal dryness

Oestrogen receptors exist all over the body ― especially in the bladder and vagina, Dr. Haver said. “And when we lose estrogen in those areas, we start having dryness. You know, loss of lubrication and recurrent urinary tract infections.”

5) Tinnitus and vertigo

Though lesser-known, Dr. Haver argues that a lot of women don’t know that menopause can cause “tinnitus, or vertigo that came out of nowhere suddenly in this time period clumped around her last menstrual period.”

6) Disturbed sleep

“Over 80%” of those experiencing menopause “report disturbed sleep as their main symptom,” Dr. Berry says. That’s as many as report anxiety (80%) as their main symptom; it’s followed by weight gain and brain fog, with hot flushes coming in fourth.

There are far more symptoms associated with menopause ― like lowered libido, decreased self-esteem, palpitations, dry and itchy skin, and even sensitive teeth ― which you can read about on the NHS’s site.

If you think you’re experiencing menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms, speaking to a medical expert about the best next steps can be helpful as “getting advice early can help reduce the impact perimenopause and menopause have on your health, relationships and work.”