What Are The 34 Menopause Symptoms ?

34 symptoms of the menopause
What are the symptoms, when do they start and how long do they last? We answer all of your menopause and perimenopause questions.

Ask women to list their menopause symptoms and we guarantee every woman’s list will be different. We can also guarantee that, collectively, women can share far more than 34 symptoms of menopause – although most of us will not, thankfully, experience all of them. But when it comes to that famed “34 symptoms” list, these are probably the most common:

  1. Irregular periods.
  2. Hot flushes.
  3. Night sweats.
  4. Vaginal dryness.
  5. A loss of libido.
  6. Mood swings.
  7. Fatigue.
  8. Insomnia and disturbed sleep.
  9. Weight gain.
  10. Thinning and brittle hair.
  11. Dry skin.
  12. Joint and muscle pain.
  13. Breast tenderness.
  14. Headaches.
  15. Urinary changes.
  16. Digestive problems.
  17. Memory lapses or difficulty concentrating.
  18. Feelings of anxiety.
  19. Depression.
  20. Irritability.
  21. Heart palpitations.
  22. Osteoporosis.
  23. Changes in body odour.
  24. Allergies.
  25. Brittle nails.
  26. Gum problems.
  27. Electric shock sensations.
  28. Dizziness.
  29. Bloating.
  30. Itchy skin.
  31. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
  32. Burning tongue or mouth.
  33. Increased facial hair.
  34. Changes in body shape or distribution of fat.

And the list goes on…

How can I tell if I’m menopausal?

At Hylda, our mantra is “every woman’s menopause is different” and our experience really does bear this out. From our conversations with our Facebook community Women With Ambition, Attitude and Brain Fog, and via our Instagram community @wearehylda, we talk to women every day about their symptoms and experiences. Although sometimes it feels like we’ve got them all, the reality is each women will experience a different range of symptoms. There are at least 34 symptoms of the menopause (and counting), some are more common than others, and vary as we age. In this article we will cover several frequently asked questions:

What is the average age for menopause?

Let’s start with clarifying a few of the terms, with some help from Hylda’s women’s health partner, My Menopause Centre

The perimenopause marks the start of the menopause transition. It is the time when your body starts to change, typically over five years but it can be up to eight to 10 years before the menopause occurs. During this time, your periods can become irregular and you may start to experience menopause symptoms.

So menopause itself is the anniversary of 12 months of no periods. This means that you will only know that you have reached menopause retrospectively – when you realise you’ve had a year with no periods. Frustrated? We get it! Our mantra at Hylda is that every woman’s menopause is different, and our job is to give you all the information you need to take control of the situation. It all starts here.

READ MORE What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

For UK women, the average age of menopause is 51, but as the My Menopause Team have noted, symptoms can start several years before that. Symptoms typically start showing at an average age of 45 years. This is your perimenopause. The time after menopause is called post-menopause, and it’s common for your symptoms to continue into this time.

There’s a reason why our medical advisor Dr Clare Spencer calls perimenopause “the storm before the calm”: the perimenopause years are when many women experience the most hormonal turbulence and disruption. Many of us are still having regular periods and therefore assume that the menopause is years off.

We have no clue that the sudden onset of symptoms like aching joints (yes, achy legs at night is a menopause symptom!), anxiety and brain fog are in fact all a part of our menopause journey. Welcome to perimenopause!

READ MORE Book your private menopause appointment.

How long does menopause last?

As we outlined above, the menopause itself is just a moment in time. But perimenopause and post-menopause symptoms can carry on for several years.

The perimenopause can last from 12 months to up to, on average, five years in most women. From this time, your ovaries release less oestrogen than in previous years. Menopause symptoms may appear earlier than your mid 40s, especially if you have undergone chemotherapy, had a surgical menopause with removal of your ovaries, or had a hysterectomy (where you may experience an earlier menopause – even with ovaries left intact).

The postmenopausal phase is where menopause symptoms slowly subside, although some women will experience symptoms into their 60s and even 70s.

What are the 34 symptoms of menopause?

Yes, the list is long! Symptoms can affect your physical and your mental health. There is no one answer to the question, what are the worst menopause symptoms. Because every woman’s menopause is different, each of us will experience the symptoms in different ways. It is entirely personal.

If you’re reading this and wondering, am I going through menopause? The answer could well be yes. Read on.

Hot flushes

Hot flushes are early symptoms that you are approaching  menopause. A red neck and face characterise the flashes in up to 72% of women. When you have hot flushes, your body suddenly overheats, and you experience sweating and night sweats because the hormones responsible for controlling your body’s temperature are low. Spicy foods and hot drinks usually trigger symptoms of hot flushes.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about hot flushes.

Night sweats

Night sweats are associated with difficulties in sleeping for most menopausal women. Night sweats are a result of hot flushes you experience at night.

Mood swings

Studies have shown that about 27% of women experience mood swings. Many women experience anxiety as well. The mood swings are similar to mood changes you may experience during your periods but tend to be extreme.


Anxiety affects one out of three menopausal women. It is common in women who also experience mood swings.

READ MORE: Does menopause cause anxiety?

Weight gain

Weight gain during menopause, especially around your middle, is caused by the hormonal changes your body is going through. It is not caused by Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Exercise and a healthy diet can help you combat it. Does menopause make you bloated? Yes, it can.

READ MORE The best exercises for your menopause belly fat.

Changes in libido

While most women report having a decrease in their libido, some have reported having increased libido. The changes in libido are, therefore, different from one woman to another. Decreased libido is said to be associated with gaining weight. It can lower your sex drive by making you feel uncomfortable with your body. Exercising and eating healthy can, however, make you embrace your body again.

READ MORE Perimenopause, HRT and sex drive, all you need to know.

Irregular periods

Irregular periods are among the earlier symptoms of perimenopause in most women. As your egg production decreases, your hormone levels drop and fluctuate more erratically too. At times, you may get signs of premenstrual syndrome such as irritability, bloating and breast tenderness but fail to get your periods.

Vaginal dryness

During perimenopause and after menopause, the natural lubrication of your vagina is inadequate. Oestrogen is responsible for vaginal lubrication. When you are in the menopause years, your eggs fail to produce enough oestrogen to lubricate the vagina, and as a result, you experience vaginal dryness. The dryness can make sex uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

Sleeping difficulties

Insomnia is common because of hot flushes that can occur at night. The flashes may lead to night sweats that make it uncomfortable for you to sleep. Other symptoms can affect sleep also, such as anxiety and low mood.

Difficulties in concentration

Your brain makes energy with the aid of estrogen by burning glucose to help you concentrate while carrying out your daily activities. When your oestrogen levels decrease, the brain is no longer able to make enough energy to help you focus, leading to you experiencing concentration difficulties.

Does menopause affect your skin and hair?

There are oestrogen receptors in every cell of your body, so your oestrogen levels change, your skin and hair are affected too.

READ MORE Best products for menopause hair loss.

Dry skin

Oestrogen is essential for skin hydration, facialist and acupuncturist Annee de Mamiel explains, because it increases the skin’s production of GAGs and oil, improves the barrier function and increases water retention.

“As oestrogen levels reduce during the menopause and perimenopause, your skin can become more delicate, less elastic and more dry,” says My Menopause Centre’s Dr Clare Spencer. “It becomes less able to hold water and stay hydrated. A drop in oestrogen also changes the collagen in the skin, meaning that it can become less plump and more saggy.”

To help keep your skin hydrated, leading dermatologist and dermatological surgeon Dr Dennis Gross recommends looking for ingredients that build your skin barrier like bakuchiol and niacinamide. “This helps not only lock in moisture, but also help prevent skin from becoming irritated,” he explains.

READ MORE: How to help dry skin in menopause.

Adult acne

“Acne around the time of the perimenopause is not uncommon,” says Dr Clare Spencer. “With hormonal changes, there is usually a drop in oestrogen and as a consequence a relatively high level of testosterone. Testosterone causes an increase in sebum (oil) production in the skin. This blocks the pores and allows growth of certain bacteria. On top of that, with age, skin turnover is less effective resulting in more blockage of the pores, inflammation and infection.”

Another factor, Annee de Mamiel explains, is the rising levels of cortisol women often experience during menopause. “This can impact our ability to cope with stress and result in mood swings, anxiety, lack of sleep and depression which in turn increase cortisol levels and has a negative impact on our skin,” she says.

Dry and itchy skin

When your oestrogen levels decrease during menopause, collagen also decreases. Annee de Mamiel says that as much as 30% of collagen is lost in the first five years after menopause. Collagen is a protein in the body that strengthens your skin and keeps it moist. When it drops, it is another factor that contributes to your skin becoming dry and itchy, a condition known as pruritus.

Dr Gross suggests introducing a retinol into your skincare routine to stimulate collagen production and increase cell turnover. “It helps fight fine lines and wrinkles, keeps pores clear which prevents breakouts and also diminishes hyperpigmentation.” However, be sure to select a product that is not harsh and won’t irritate the skin. “I recommend finding a product that combines retinol with anti-inflammatory ingredients like ferulic acid, bakuchiol and rambutan,” he says. “This will give you all of the benefits of retinol without the irritation.”

READ MORE Does menopause cause itchy skin?

Loss of hair

Age may affect your hair volume and also make it thin. However, menopause accelerates the two and also makes you lose hair faster.

Approximately 40% of women experience hair loss during the menopause. Dr Sharon Wong, one of only a handful of people combining medical trichology with dermatology, explains this is because during menopause, the ratio between female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and male hormones (androgens) is gradually reversed. 

“Oestrogen and progesterones are hair ‘protective’ and maintain hairs in the growth phase of the hair cycle. Androgens are the hormones involved in kick-starting the balding process in genetic hair loss,” she says. “The decline in oestrogens/progesterones means you lose the protective effect on your hair, whilst the effect of androgens on the follicle is amplified.”

Menopause is also a time which coincides with the onset of female pattern hair loss (FPHL). “This is the female equivalent of male pattern balding, with loss of density and thinning specifically over the crown,” explains Dr Wong. “The parting progressively becomes wider and the scalp starts to show through the hair more.”

READ MORE: The 10 best products for menopause hair loss.

Brittle nails

Your nails may break easily during menopause. Oestrogen is essential in keeping the keratin layer, which strengthens your nails, strong. When it reduces, the keratin layer weakens to cause brittle nails in many women in their menopause.

Can menopause make you feel strange? 

There are some symptoms that you would not expect to be caused by the menopause. And yes, some of them will certainly make you feel strange.


Feeling exhausted is also common during menopause. Research shows that 25% of women experience fatigue during menopause.

Tingling sensation in the extremities

While most women report experiencing tingling sensations in their fingers and toes, it is also normal to experience a burning sensation or some numbness. These changes are due to a drop in your oestrogen levels that affects your central nervous system, which relays signals to the rest of your body.


Sudden unexplainable dizziness during menopause is said to be associated with a drop in your levels of estrogen.

Pain in joints

Oestrogen is responsible for strengthening bones and protecting them from inflammation. As the levels of the hormone decrease, your joints become susceptible to inflammation.

Electric shocks

Electric shocks are a menopausal symptom that occur suddenly and are due to the inappropriate firing of neurons. You are likely to experience electric shocks after hot flushes.

Burning tongue

A burning tongue is due to dry mouth that may be due to reduced levels of oestrogen. Just like the mucosa of the vagina, the mucosa of the mouth has oestrogen receptors that contribute to saliva formation. Reduction in your oestrogen levels during menopause leads to reduced saliva production.

Problems with gums

Gum problems during menopause can cause your mouth to taste like metal. Gum problems affect 10-40% of women.

Digestive issues

Digestive issues may be excessive flatulence, bloating, nausea and abdominal cramps. The problems arise from elevated cortisol levels as your oestrogen decreases, since estrogen is responsible for maintaining healthy cortisol levels.


Bloating is an early sign that you are approaching menopause. Bloating is a common perimenopausal symptom, especially if it persists after you complete your periods.

READ MORE Does HRT cause weight gain?

Sore breasts

Feeling soreness in your breasts is a common symptom in perimenopause. It is the same as the sore you experience when you have your period or are pregnant.


If you experienced headaches during your menstrual period, it is common to get headaches during menopause too. Hormones released by your ovaries may also affect chemicals in the brain related to headaches. Headaches are less likely to occur if your hormones are steady. In the menopause years, however, the hormones fluctuate, explaining why headaches are more frequent in menopause.

Memory lapse

Temporary forgetfulness is a common symptom you will experience in later stages of menopause. It is associated with fatigue, but you can rectify it by doing cognitive exercises to enhance your cognition.

Tight muscles

Strain in your muscles is often associated with stress. Since menopause is associated with symptoms like anxiety and stress, your muscles may tighten. Yoga and meditation can, however, relieve stress and help your body relax for your muscles to loosen.

Changes in body odour

The natural body scent changes when you reach menopause. These changes may be due to hormonal changes and frequent sweating associated with hot flushes.


Fluctuations in your hormones are associated with changes in mood at menopause. Try relaxing activities and exercise, or meditating to help control the changes in your moods.


Since hormones and your immune system are linked, finding yourself allergic to new things is common when you are in menopause.

Irregular heartbeat

You may notice changes in your heartbeat, such as palpitations. Similar to the tingling sensations you may experience during menopause, irregular heartbeats occur because the drop in your estrogen levels may cause misfiring of neurons.

Stress incontinence

The inability to control your bladder when you lift heavy items off the ground or cough is called stress incontinence. During menopause, physical activities can cause urine leakage because they stress your bladder.

READ MORE: A woman’s health physio on how to strengthen your pelvic floor. 


Studies show that women younger than 45 years are less likely to be depressed compared to those who are older. Due to the mood changes you experience in menopause, such as sadness, you might experience depression. If low mood is particularly affecting your quality of life, or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please speak to your GP, call 111 (in the UK) or consider calling the Samaritans. Do not suffer in silence.

Panic disorder

As aforementioned, menopausal women are prone to anxiety due to hormonal changes. Anxiety may contribute to panic attacks. However, panic attacks are not a common symptom of menopause. If anxiety is impacting on your quality of life, please speak to your GP or call 111  to talk through strategies that can help.


Osteoporosis is a condition associated with weak bones that are prone to fractures. A significant function of estrogen is to maintain healthy and strong bones. Your bones, therefore, weaken when your estrogen levels lower during menopause.

What is HRT?

Hormone Replacement Therapy, HRT, is the medical treatment for menopause. Hormone therapy is, the most recognised method of managing menopausal symptoms and replacing deficient hormone levels. It helps not just with symptoms but with future health issues caused by low hormone levels, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

Since the cause of menopausal symptoms arises from low levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, hormone therapy can help alleviate the symptoms.

READ MORE: HRT, is it safe? Everything you need to know.

What is the best natural remedy for menopause?

There are several natural remedies that some women use for combating specific symptoms menopause brings. Always let your doctor know if you are taking any, because they can affect more traditional medicines.

Black cohosh, flax seeds, soy, vitamin E, exercising, yoga and meditation have been adopted by many women to lessen menopause symptoms.

However, each remedy aims at relieving a particular symptom. Flax seed, for example, is a useful remedy for hot flushes, while vitamin E relieves vaginal dryness.

A lot of women use black cohosh. It aims at relieving hot flushes and night sweats of menopause. Black cohosh is a herb, and its dietary supplements are from a powder of its roots.

READ MORE Dr Clare Spencer is the co founder and Clinical Director of My Menopause Centre. You can find out more about the clinic and book an appointment here

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