Everyone is different and charts their own unique path through the Big M. But still, have you wondered what signs of menopause you, individually, may experience? It’s a
good great and very understandable question. Although we are all different, some common menopause symptoms may occur. We wish we’d all known in high school that there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to fitting in, and the same is true how menopause will manifest itself in your life, both physically and emotionally. Furthermore, there is no right or wrong way to feel about The Change’s, well, changes. The best way to not let this life stage limit you is preparation. So, returning to our high school analogy, let’s put on our study caps and get educated about emotional and physical menopause symptoms, as well as the signs of menopause.
What Does It Feel Like to Go Through “The Change” Emotionally Speaking?
How do emotions impact our permanent vacation to M Land? Well, like comparing trips with a friend who visited the same destination as you, everyone’s itinerary looks different. You may experience emotional mountains, mood valleys, highs and lows, or you may not feel any changes at all, giving you a relatively smooth ride. Additionally, you may feel a wide range of emotions or mostly deal with one symptom. Whatever you feel, cut yourself some slack and remind yourself to do the best you can to enjoy your journey. Unlike perfectly straight totally unfrizzy hair and naturally straight teeth, feelings are normal, and moving through them is important. (As you can tell, I’m still processing my feelings about a certain high school prom queen. But hey, even she’s struggling through menopause right now!
Emotional Signs of Menopause
Some common emotions you might feel during your mental menopausal transition include:
Menopause signals the loss of fertility. Whether you have children or not, The Change may make you men-o-pause and realize that your ability to get pregnant has passed. Even if you have no desire to have any little ones, feeling the loss of your childbearing years is perfectly normal. Some people also may feel menopause is a sign of getting older and a loss of youth.
Remember, menopause age is not always the same for everyone. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the average menopause age is 51. But some people hit early menopause before 40, and some are still getting their period well into their 50s.
With fluctuating hormone levels, those going through menopause won’t be surprised to learn that they may develop a host of emotions, including anxiety. Physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, weight gain, and night sweats, also can make you anxious and uncomfortable. Fortunately, treatments for menopause make dealing with anxiety possible, including self-care, medication, supplements, vitamins, and even essential oils.
We all have days when we feel a little down, but depression is different. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, women have an increased risk of developing depression as they approach menopause. Signs it may be more than a case of the blahs include:
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness
- Decreased energy
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Problems sleeping
- Change in appetite
- Withdrawal from family and friends
Depression in menopause may happen due to declining hormone levels, life stresses, and an underlying predisposition for mood disorders. The good news is depression during menopause is treatable with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Don’t ignore the signs. You deserve to feel better, so talk to your healthcare provider.
Whether you’re skipping date night or are less productive at work, you might feel a bit of guilt. You may feel guilty because you want to be there for everyone else. But, because menopause signs and symptoms may leave you feeling like you’re running on “E,” now is the time to say, “no more running, time for me!” Remember: You are human. You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. (Only fairy godmothers and the friendliest of puppies can do that.)
Do you sometimes feel angry? Do you look at your significant other and wonder why they have to breathe so LOUDLY while you’re watching your favorite de-stress tv show?, some people deal with feelings of rage during menopause. So, what gives? Feeling anger during menopause may be a combination of frustration dealing with physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep problems, and, you guessed it, hormonal changes. But learning strategies to decrease stress, such as getting out in nature, yoga, and deep breathing, can help. There’s also buying adorable little throw pillows with mood-boosting motivational sayings . . . and then screaming into them.
What Are the Physical Signs of Menopause?
What menopause symptoms will you experience aside from emotional changes? Fluctuating or decreasing hormones may bring about physical changes as well. For example, MedicalNewsToday details the 34 symptoms of menopause while Healthline lists 66 potential menopausal maladies.
Physical Menopause Symptoms
In a previous post, we listed the 10 most common menopause symptoms. The information below shares just a few of the most popular ones.
A “hot flash” is a sudden feeling of heat in your body. Your face and neck may become flushed. Red blotches may appear on your chest, back, and arms. One minute you’re feeling fine, the next you’re on fire. Not literally, but it feels that way!
Whether they lead to excessive sweating or a few beads on your brow, night sweats affect up to 80% of menopausal mavens during the perimenopause-to-menopause transition. That sounds like a lot. But the severity and intensity can vary. Before you get green with envy of the 20% that don’t seem to break a sweat while you’re over there feeling like you could water your own rain forest, recognize that they likely have a host of other signs and symptoms.
As if getting sleep during midlife isn’t tough enough, right?! We all know that a lack of good sleep can impact our energy levels, mental health, and stress levels. One night you can sleep for hours and hours, the next night you’re staring at the flashing light of the alarm clock, praying for just a wee bit of succulent slumber.
Vaginal Dryness and Urinary Incontinence
Menopause is no laughing matter, but it’s still got us peeing our pants! Because according to the Mayo Clinic, “When estrogen levels diminish, your vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful. Low estrogen may also leave you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Loss of tissue tone may contribute to urinary incontinence.” But hey, one way to feel young again is to remind yourself, “I haven’t peed my pants this much since preschool!”
5 Tips for Coping With the Signs of Menopause
Coping strategies can help us thrive as we go through the signs of menopause. Consider these five tips as you work your way through menopause’s many potential mental and physical changes:
1. Feel the feels.
Like my high school drama teacher loved to say, “Feel your feelings!” Feelings come and go. What you feel today about the menopausal transition may not be what you think tomorrow. Allow yourself to move through the emotions without feeling bad about yourself. We all have an occasional day where we want to pull the covers up and have a good cry. That’s OK. It’s also okay to cry without hiding your head under the covers! Letting your feelings out instead of trying to stuff them inside is sometimes your best bet.
2. Grieve your losses.
When people talk about grief and grieving, they are referring to death or the loss of a loved one. While death certainly can result in grieving, loss means much more than death. It also means the loss of expectations, the loss of normalcy (things changing, including our age, our body size and shape, our abilities, our health, etc.), the loss of how we see ourselves (for example, as sexual goddesses or risk-taking adventurers). Menopause doesn’t mean life is over. But, if you are stuck grieving, it will feel that way. Grief can come in waves but giving yourself permission to pause and grieve any losses you feel is key to moving through it and enjoying your new life. As the eternal poets of the band Semisonic sang, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
3. Practice gratitude and positive affirmations.
Misplaced guilt can lead to depression and decreased self-esteem. When you start to feel guilty, take a breath and replace negative self-talk with gratitude and positive affirmations. Mantras repeated multiple times in your mind several times a day can help reduce your guilt. Consider phrases like: “I am making it through menopause with grace and ease,” “I am empowered and educated and trust my gut to make the best decisions for my health and wellness,” and “I am my most important asset and give myself permission to fill up my own cup first.” There’s also, “I am a total badass and will kick menopause’s butt, right after I give myself permission to take a nap.”
4. Put your study cap on.
Various solutions are available to help you deal with all of your physical and emotional signs of menopause from night sweats and mood swings to irregular periods and vaginal dryness. When it comes to treatments for menopause, it is not a one size fits all situation. Get educated, track your symptoms, and work with a professional team to develop a plan that fits your needs.
5. Connect and get support.
We all can use a friend to lean on. Whether it’s your mom, significant other, or best bud, gain support from people that care about you. Not finding the perfect IRL friend or family member? No worries! App and online communities offer incredible menopausal support all from the comfort of your own home while you’re still in your pjs. (Or, if you’re having hot flashes, wearing nothing at all!)
It’s a Wrap!
Negative emotions can have a big impact on how you feel, both physically and mentally. It’s no secret that we all want to feel happier, stronger, and healthier as we journey through menopause and life in general.
Developing a positive mindset by taking the above steps can change the way you view the change! Life is about moving through different stages. Menopause is just another stage that, although it may bring many emotions and challenges, is manageable.
Also, knowledge is power. It, therefore, follows that emotional knowledge is emotional power! The more you know, the more you can put together a plan to deal with any symptoms that are having an adverse effect on your life. You can thrive as you go through The Change. Remember, midlife ain’t the end of life; the best may be yet to come!
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