Common symptoms

and what to do about them

Anxiety

Fluctuating hormones can create unexplained feelings of worry, dread, edginess and doom; sudden bursts of anger or weepi­ness and then possibly periods of introspection and wanting to be left alone.


Data shows some women are just more sensitive to hormone levels, including reduced estrogen, than others.

What we also know is that anxiety often co-exists with depression and that mid-life events like empty nest syndrome may also have an impact.

What to do about it

  • A healthy diet, exercise, trying to reduce stress, a good night’s sleep will all help.
     

  • Avoid self-medicating with alcohol - sadly, it is likely to exacerbate both the physical and psychological symptoms triggered by perimenopause and menopause.
     

  • The technique of mindfulness meditation has been shown to help with mild anxiety.

Brain Fog

Up to 60% of menopausal women complain of ‘brain fog’. This is not simply about forgetting the name of someone you have worked with for years or misplacing your keys. It’s more the feeling that their brain is completely cluttered which leads to difficulty retrieving information that they once knew and/or finding it harder to remember or recall new information.

 

For some women these symptoms can be so debilitating that they can actually think they are suffering with dementia.

What to do about it

  • To help you think more clearly keep yourself well hydrated – drinking water and herbal teas will help – evidence shows even very mild dehydration can lead to difficulties concentrating.

  • Avoid alcohol and eat a diet with plenty of water-rich vegetables and fruit.

  • Stress-relieving activ­ities, like exercise or meditative techniques, can also help you to unwind and declutter your brain.

  • Inhaling peppermint or rose­mary essential oils can have a short-term effect in helping with concentration and there is some evidence that the herb ginkgo biloba can help stimulate memo­ry.

  • DHA, one of the compounds found in oily fish, has also been shown to help speed up reac­tion times in short term memory.

If lifestyle changes don’t help do talk to your doctor who may suggest HRT. Be reassured this brain fogginess is temporary and when your hormones regain balance your brain will too.

Breast Pain

No-one knows for sure why some women find their breasts can feel sore and tender around the time of menopause but it is thought to be triggered by fluctuating and falling oestrogen and proges­terone levels. Just as you would expect during puberty and your normal period patterns. The big­ger your breasts the more likely they are to feel heavy, swollen and uncomfortable.

What to do about it

  • Wear a comfortable and supportive bra.

  • Dress in comfort­able soft layers.

  • Eat a diet high in phytoes­trogens (commonly known as ‘dietary estrogen’) e.g., whole grains, seeds, beans, root vegetables and soya.

Get advice from your doctor if you notice any changes in shape, size and/or find lumps.

Depression

Fluctuating hormones during perimenopause and menopause can lead to a greater risk of de­pression. Those who have had a history of depression are at greater risk.

What to do about it

  • Talk to you’re a women’s health/menopause specialist and or/men­tal health professional. HRT, and possibly CBT (or other forms of counsel­ling support) are both options that could help with this symptom.

  • There are lifestyle fac­tors that can help like exercis­ing, eating well and avoiding alcohol (which is a depressant).

Try to make time for yourself alone to avoid becoming over­whelmed. Take a relaxing bath with added neroli essential oil – there is evidence to show this could go some way to helping alleviate depressive symptoms.

Facial hair

Hormonal changes can trigger a change in hair growth patterns which can result in unwanted hair appearing on your upper lip and/or coarse dark hair sprout­ing on your chin. You might find your eyebrows and/or eyelash­es become thinner and sparser too. At a time when your confi­dence levels can feel at an all-time low this doesn’t exactly do much to help matters!

What to do about it

Invest in a magnifying mirror and/or tweezers with magnify­ing mirror attached to pull out the offending hairs (if they both­er you). Slanted tweezers tend to be more efficient at grabbing onto stubborn bristly hair.

 

Al­ternatively, have them waxed or professionally threaded at a salon. For a more long-term solution try electrolysis or laser hair removal which can get rid of the hair semi-permanently.

 

I have dermaplaning every 5 weeks. I find this not only removes the fine hair I have since being in menopause, but also makes my skin feel AWESEOME! I highly recommend it.

Breast Pain

No-one knows for sure why some women find their breasts can feel sore and tender around the time of menopause but it is thought to be triggered by fluctuating and falling oestrogen and proges­terone levels. Just as you would expect during puberty and your normal period patterns. The big­ger your breasts the more likely they are to feel heavy, swollen and uncomfortable.

What to do about it

  • Wear a comfortable and supportive bra.

  • Dress in comfort­able soft layers.

  • Eat a diet high in phytoes­trogens (commonly known as ‘dietary estrogen’) e.g., whole grains, seeds, beans, root vegetables and soya.

Get advice from your doctor if you notice any changes in shape, size and/or find lumps.

Breast Pain

No-one knows for sure why some women find their breasts can feel sore and tender around the time of menopause but it is thought to be triggered by fluctuating and falling oestrogen and proges­terone levels. Just as you would expect during puberty and your normal period patterns. The big­ger your breasts the more likely they are to feel heavy, swollen and uncomfortable.

What to do about it

  • Wear a comfortable and supportive bra.

  • Dress in comfort­able soft layers.

  • Eat a diet high in phytoes­trogens (commonly known as ‘dietary estrogen’) e.g., whole grains, seeds, beans, root vegetables and soya.

Get advice from your doctor if you notice any changes in shape, size and/or find lumps.