Hot flushes, mood swings and reduced libido are all well-known symptoms of the menopause.
But doctors say there’s another sign to look out for — ‘the change’ could be spelling trouble for your love life.
A poll today revealed seven out of 10 women with marital difficulties, such as being divorced or going through a separation, blamed it for their woes.
Yet that’s not the only bizarre symptom suffered by some women going through the menopause.
Here, MailOnline walks you through some of the other stranger signs of the change.
The drop in oestrogen and progesterone that causes the menopause has a vast array of effects on the body, some of which are totally bizarre
The menopause is when a woman’s periods stop. It usually between the ages of 45 and 55.
It is a normal part of ageing and caused by levels of oestrogen and progesterone dropping.
HRT replaces the hormones and is the main treatment used to treat symptoms — which can be severe and disrupt day-to-day life.
On average, women will experience at least 10 symptoms when menopause hits, but there are dozens more.
Bina Mehta, pharmacist at Boots, said: ‘Many women are unaware that there are over 40 signs and symptoms of the menopause.
‘Hot flushes are one of the most commonly known symptoms, however, there are many symptoms such as low mood and anxiety, brain fog, and fatigue that can be missed or attributed to other life events.
‘These symptoms are due to fluctuating hormones produced by the ovaries, mainly oestrogen.
‘The menopause is a natural process, and everyone’s experience is different.’
What are the 40 symptoms of menopause?
- Irregular periods
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Discomfort during sex
- Decreased sex drive
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Involuntary urinating when exerting
- Needing to urinate frequently
- Needing to urinate in the night
- Painful urination
- Hair loss, thinning
- Weight gain
- Joint pain, muscle aches
- Breast tenderness, soreness
- Mouth dryness
- Digestive problems
- Increase in aches and pains
- Body odour
- Gum problems
- Burning mouth syndrome
- Brittle nails
- Facial hair growth
- Dry skin
- Dry eyes
- Tingling sensation in the extremities
- Electric shock sensations
- Dizzy attacks
- Frequent allergies
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lack of motivation
Hot flushes can leave women with a sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body.
But it’s not just the body that can randomly feel hot when you enter the menopause.
Around 8 per cent of menopausal women experience a burning tongue, according to supplement manufacturer DR.VEGAN’s Annual Menopause Survey 2022 of more than 1,000 women in Britain.
But The Menopause Charity, which offers support to women going through the menopause, as well as doctors treating it and employers whose staff are affected by it, claims it can strike up to one in three menopausal women.
It can feel like a sudden, short pain in the mouth and is more common in women who also experience metallic tastes, mouth dryness, tingling or soreness.
Actually scalding the mouth, for example by drinking tea that is too hot, makes it even worse.
Burning can also be felt around the roof of the mouth, lips or inside of the cheeks.
Doctors believe that it is caused by lower oestrogen levels activating pain-sensitive nerves around the taste buds in the tongue.
But there are currently little-to-no specific treatment options available. It can take several months for the symptoms to fade, even with HRT.
The NHS recommends women suffering the symptom take up yoga and mindfulness to ease stress.
This is thought to make the feeling of pain less intense.
Medications, including low dose antidepressants, can also be recommended. These replace the natural painkilling endorphins, which dip when oestrogen levels are low.
As well as burning, menopausal women can be left feeling like they’re suffering from electric shocks.
The jolts of pain, which can be severe, usually occur just before a hot flush.
Electric shock sensations can feel like a rubber band snapping in the flesh under the skin anywhere on the body, most commonly across the forehead.
Medics are not entirely sure what causes the symptom, but it’s thought that fluctuating hormone levels can lead to the nervous system misfiring.
Drugs used to treat hot flushes have also been blamed for the sensation, which can affect around 15 per cent of people.
As with most of these symptoms, doctors do not prescribe anything specific to help prevent them, other than HRT.
A diet high in soybeans, tofu, chickpeas, broccoli and pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds helps increase them in the body.
The symptom is different to trigeminal neuralgia, a rare pain that feels like an electric shock in the jaw, teeth and gums that is most common in women aged over 60.
Trigeminal neuralgia is usually caused by a nerve in the skull getting trapped and is not linked specifically to the menopause.
Another unpleasant but little-known, symptom is formication.
It leaves some women feeling like they have an army of ants crawling underneath their skin.
The sensation — which affects up to 21 per cent of menopausal women — usually occurs early in the change or soon after a woman’s last period and does eventually disappear on its own.
Oestrogen stimulates the production of collagen — which strengthens and tightens— and oils, which helps keep it moist.
When levels of the hormone fall, this naturally dries out the skin, causing it to feel itchy.
When oestrogen levels stabilise after around a year, often with the help of HRT, the symptom tends to fade away.
But in the meantime, the NHS recommends women eat a diet rich in healthy fats, with food including salmon, walnuts and eggs prioritised.
Wearing sunscreen regularly — even on overcast days — can also help keep skin moist.
Women are also advised to avoid piping hot baths or showers, drink plenty of water, use gentle soaps, exfoliate and moisturise regularly, and reduce alcohol and smoking.
Antihistamine creams are also available over the counter to help ease irritation, while doctors can also help if the effects are not manageable.
WHAT IS THE MENOPAUSE?
Menopause is when a woman stops having periods, and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
It is a normal part of ageing and caused by levels of the sex hormone oestrogen dropping.
Some women go through this time with few, if any, symptoms.
Others suffer from hot flushes, sleeping difficulties, mood swings and brain fog, which can last for months or years and might change over time.
HRT replaces the hormones and is the main treatment used to treat symptoms — which can be severe and disrupt day-to-day life.
Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Menopause can also leave women with the unpleasant sensation of tinnitus, in theory.
This is when you hear noises that aren’t coming from the outside world.
Most commonly, it sound like a constant ringing in the ears, although buzzing, humming and hissing are all signs of the condition.
More than a fifth of women going through the change suffer tinnitus, according to the DR.VEGAN survey. It is listed as a potential side effect on several health advice websites.
NHS data suggests around 13 per cent of British adults in the wider population experience tinnitus.
Although a direct causal link with menopause has yet to have been established, it is also thought to be linked to the same drop in hormone levels as all the other symptoms.
Little research has been done into why it appears to be more prevalent in menopausal women but experts believe it may be linked to blood flow in the ear.
A sudden drop in oestrogen can limit the flow to the inner ear tube — known as the cochlear — potentially sending the nerve signals inside haywire.
This can affect how sound is perceived and may be to blame for the ringing sensation.
Other than HRT, deep breathing, yoga and other stress-reducing activities are also believed to help alleviate the symptom. Depression and mood disorders have been linked to tinnitus.
As with formication, the symptom can disappear on its own, although it does not for everyone.
Another potential side effect of the change is developing a bad smell.
Surveys suggest up to three in four women experience night sweats or hot flushes.
As with during a hot flush, when oestrogen levels drop, the hypothalamus gland in the brain is tricked into think you are overheating.
This triggers the body to start sweating excessively, even when you’re not actually hot.
The sweat can build up and result in unpleasant body odour.
At the same time, the same time the effect is boosted by the plunging levels of oestrogen meaning amounts of the male sex hormone testosterone are relatively higher.
Testosterone can boost the levels of bacteria in sweat, making the moisture smell more.
Antiperspirants can help reduce the sweating by blocking sweat glands. Some also contain antibacterial agents, reducing the bad smell.
GPs can also help pick out extra-strength deodorants if the problem is serious.
Breathable clothing, fans and cooling sprays and cooling pillows at night are also all recommended.
With the host of symptoms women have to deal with, it is not surprising around 70 per cent of those in the menopause feel irritable.
But for some this boils even further to a lot of anger or even rage.
Perimenopause rage differs from normal feelings of anger because it can occur out of the blue.
Mood swings are a common side effect of the change because oestrogen plays an important role in regulating the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin.
As oestrogen and serotonin levels fall, it becomes harder to control more negative emotions.
Doctors advise the same stress-relieving activities as with the other symptoms, including yoga and meditation, on top of HRT.
Women are also encouraged to allow angry outbursts to happen rather than trying to suppress them.
A study by Canadian researchers published in the Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the community, found self-silencing can increase the risk of developing depression in women.
Outlets to release anger like exercise can also help reduce rage, while also boosting serotonin levels.
Finally, anger management therapy is recommended for women who are really struggling with the symptom.
‘I felt old, dried up, and ashamed’: Davina McCall says she was too embarrassed to admit to taking hormone replacement therapy to help with her menopause symptoms
By MILLY VEITCH FOR MAILONLINE
Davina McCall has opened up on the shame she felt around taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in order to help other women become better informed about the treatment.
The presenter, 54, explained how she felt ‘ashamed’ to be relying on a drug and worried that people would think her reason was vanity-based.
Writing in The Mirror, she said: ‘I felt old, dried up, and ashamed that I couldn’t grin and bear it when I was so tough. I’d had three home births, but perimenopause floored me. And there I was, taking a drug to make me feel better. That’s how I perceived it.’
Brave: Davina McCall has opened up on the shame she felt around taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in order to help other women become better informed about the treatment
She added: ‘I really believed people would think my decision to take HRT was based on some sort of vanity – that I wanted to appear or look or feel younger.’
Davina went on to say she worried that what she was doing was anti-natural and didn’t fit with her clean-living lifestyle.
She wrote that she soon educated herself on HRT and reframed her thinking, realising that the treatment could help her extreme menopause symptoms.
She said: ‘I am not trying to turn into a superhuman, I’m not doing it to be thin, and I’m not doing it to make my face look younger. I’m doing it because my world was falling apart.’
‘Ashamed’: The presenter, 54, explained how she felt ‘ashamed’ to be relying on a drug and worried that people would think her reason was vanity-based
Davina went on to dispel certain myths about HRT, in a bid to help other women make an ‘informed choice’ about the treatment.
It’s the latest piece from Davina about her experience going through menopause, in order to help other women going through it.
She previously described the symptoms as beginning ‘overnight’ and said they left her feelings as though she had ‘lost something of myself’.
Writing in The Mirror, Davina said: ‘The moment I think my perimenopausal symptoms started I can actually pinpoint. I was 44 and I remember it because it was so weird. The best way I can describe it is that I just lost something of myself.’
Candid: It’s the latest piece from Davina about her experience going through menopause, in order to help other women going through it
She explained how she felt, saying: ‘I didn’t feel myself. I remember feeling more self-conscious and awkward than I normally would. And I’d wake up in the middle of the night and the sheets would be soaking. I felt my entire body had turned into a prune.’
The Masked Dancer judge said that one of the most ‘frightening’ symptoms was her memory problems.
She wrote: ‘Then there was the forgetfulness: my phone was in the fridge, my keys ended up in the bin. This reached really frightening levels, I forgot everything. Words, names, events – everything.’
Davina went on to give out advice to other women, from exercise tips to diet ideas to skin care information, to help with the symptoms of menopause.
Difficult: She previously described the symptoms as beginning ‘overnight’ and said they left her feelings as though she had ‘lost something of myself’
The Big Brother host has been candid about her experiences in the past, previously revealing she experienced such bad brain fog that it affected her work and she thought she’d lose her job.
Davina recalled once being on a TV set with interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, 57, and forgetting his name due to menopausal memory loss.
‘I was with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and I couldn’t remember his name,’ she said, according to The Sun.
‘I thought I was going to have to give up my job — and I love my job.’
She added that she thought she was ‘going mad’.
‘I thought I was going mad!’ The Big Brother host has been candid about her experiences in the past, previously revealing she experienced such bad brain fog that it affected her work and she thought she’d lose her job
‘I was just at a stage where I thought I really knew how to do this job and then thought ”you are going to take it off me”.
Davina said that she wished she had the courage to speak to her production team about her memory loss due to menopause, but was too ‘ashamed’.
Now, she’s speaking out about her experience with menopause to help end the stigma and to help others.
She added she found the night sweats ‘debilitating,’ but soon found relief through hormone replacement therapy or HRT.
She added on Lorraine on Thursday that she felt quite lonely going through menopause but wanted to remind women they aren’t alone.
Memory issues: ‘I was with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and I couldn’t remember his name,’ she said, according to The Sun
‘It’s so lonely [going through menopause], I thought I was disappearing and my world was getting smaller and smaller. I felt very lonely and isolated,’ she said.
‘It’s only when you come out of the grey, you think, I haven’t belly laughed for months… It can be a fantastic time in your life, of freedom. It’s just the next stage.’
Davina explored menopause in a documentary entitled Sex, Mind and the Menopause – the follow-up to her 2021 programme Sex, Myths and the Menopause.
The show further explored more of the burning issues raised in her first documentary – including menopause myths and the taboo around HRT.
It also took a deeper look at whether women are being sidelined, sacked or forced to go part-time when hit by menopause symptoms at work.
Her fight: Davina has vowed to ‘fight as long as she can’ for women to get Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and the correct menopause care amid a shortage issue in the UK
Davina has vowed to ‘fight as long as she can’ for women to get Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and the correct menopause care amid a major shortage issue in the UK.
The supply crisis has seen major shortages of some HRT products, which are used by approximately 1 million women in the UK, while a new survey reveals that women have been forced to leave their jobs after reaching menopause.
Speaking to The Mirror, Davina, has not shied away from discussing the menopause extensively in the past, explained: ‘I think this is going to be my life’s work now. It’s frustrating, but it feels like we’ve gone a long way in the last year in terms of public knowledge and willingness to do something about it.’
The publication reports that she then became emotional as she continued: ‘I’ll be doing this as long as it takes, I feel like it’s really important, I think it’s the most important thing I’ll ever do.’
The mother-of-three went on to share her reaction to a new Channel 4 survey, which revealed that of the 4, 014 women polled, 14% reduced their work hours due to having menopause symptoms.
It also revealed that 52% of women lost their confidence at work due to the menopause, while a whopping 84% felt there was no one they could turn to in their workplace to help with their issue.
Sharing how the menopause affected her prior to getting HRT treatment, Davina admitted that it made her ‘feel invisible’ as she couldn’t speak to anyone about it, while she was ‘frightened’ as she was unsure what was happening to her.
She added that once she got HRT, it felt like she was ‘being reborn’, with the star remarking that she ‘felt like I’d got myself back’.