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Menopause is more than just hot flashes (Yes – there’s more!)

Menopause is more than just hot flashes (Yes – there’s more!)

Written by Dr. Heather Hirsch on January 30, 2024.

Heather Hirsch, M.D. MS, NCMP, is the founder of the Menopause & Midlife clinic at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and also served on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hirsch is board certified in Internal Medicine and completed advanced fellowship training in Women’s Health at the Cleveland Clinic. Her specialty practice focuses on menopausal hormone therapy, perimenopause, breast cancer survivorship, sexual dysfunction, bone health, and other conditions common to women in midlife.

Yes, Hot Flashes Can Be a Common Symptom of Menopause, But That Doesn’t Mean All Women Experience Them

As a certified internist specializing in menopause, I often hear hot flashes as the most commonly reported symptom. While hot flashes and nights sweats are one of the most common menopause symptoms women report it’s important to note that not ALL women will experience them. In fact, some women might experience bodily changes to both heat and cold. Some women may even get cold sweats as opposed to the more widely known hot flashes. This all stems from not being able to regulate her body temperature now that her body is creating less estrogen.

Now let’s get into symptoms that women might not automatically associate with Menopause. As I take you through each symptom, don’t forget that the Clearblue® me app can help you keep track of 19 symptoms noting the frequency and intensity of each, so you have it all in one place if you are seeking help from your clinician.

Brain Fog – That Forgetfulness and Loss of Focus You’re Feeling May Be Attributed to Menopause

Brain fog can present in a few different ways including loss of immediate focus, distraction, misplacement of items and slowing of processing speed. This is a less commonly talked about symptom that women may not automatically associate with menopause and women might instead associate with aging in general, but it’s true that brain fog is one of the many side effects women can experience from a decrease in estrogen.

Notice Your Hair Is Thinning Out Or Growth In Places It Didn’t Exist Before?

Do you remember your mom saying she mysteriously started growing hair on her chin, or any other places where they didn’t have hair before? Or maybe you realize you’re losing more than before? Both symptoms are caused by changes in a woman’s hormones, namely from the decline in estrogen.

Sudden Irritability or Changes In Moods

Correct again – this can be a symptom of menopause and due to the decline and volatility in hormone levels. In some women this can manifest as low moods. I definitely recommend seeking help from your healthcare provider if you’re feeling prolonged low moods.

Bladder Weakness or Even Bladder Leaks

Bladder weakness (whether that be frequent trips to the bathroom or even bladder leaks) are common, and another lesser-known symptom of menopause that is rarely talked about. Regular trips to the bathroom are normal and is something many women might experience and should not feel ashamed of.

Of course, there are many other symptoms woman experience in addition to the ones listed above, and it is important that we do not diminish the experience to just hot flashes because every woman’s menopause journey will be very different.

If you’re feeling confused and want something to help you understand your menopause journey, try the Clearblue® Menopause Stage Indicator to find your likely menopause stage1 and get your very own personalized report that can house up to 6 weeks of your tracked symptoms so you can have a more productive conversation with your healthcare provider.

Disclaimers/Sources

  1. Only a healthcare professional can confirm your menopause stage.
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