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5 Menopause Symptoms That Catch Women Most Off Guard

It’s typical that women have at least some knowledge of what to expect before getting their first period, having sex for the first time, and having a baby. However, preparation for menopause, a rite of passage every woman will experience, is practically non-existent. Most women report being caught off guard and surprised by the physical and emotional changes. In fact, it’s common for women to question whether a symptom is related to menopause or something else.

In the early stages of perimenopause, before your periods become irregular, it can be hard to sort out what’s menopause-related and what’s not. With at least 34 symptoms associated with menopause, and conditions like a thyroid problem with similar symptoms, it’s easy to see why there’s so much confusion. Classic symptoms like hot flashes, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness and low libido grab the spotlight since they are the most frequent symptoms women experience. However, that leaves 30 other symptoms, many of which women are unaware. Which one’s catch women most off guard? Read on for my pick of the top five.

1. Thinning Hair

Women tend to be fiercely attached to their hair. We spend a lot of money and time making sure it looks good, and a bad haircut can send us into an emotional tailspin. As menopause progresses, quite a few women are surprised to find their hair starts to thin. Naturally, this causes a lot of distress, and confidence and self-esteem can take a hit. Fortunately for us, new hair-care products from companies like Better Not Younger target the unique needs of women 40+ to help restore hair. What else can you do to improve hair health? Pay attention to nutrition, get a good night’s sleep, and lower your stress levels. These factors can make all the difference to your hair (and overall health, too). For more holistic hair-care tips for thinning, dry, frizzy and gray hair, check out our guide.

2. Dry, Itchy Skin

When estrogen levels decline, our skin loses moisture and becomes dry and itchy. Even oily skin can become parched and flakey seemingly overnight. Part of the frustration is the very products we used for years with success don’t serve us well, sending us on the hunt for replacements. The trial and error process and money wasted on products that sit in a drawer is irritating, to say the least. That’s because most skincare products are formulated for younger women and may also contain ingredients that irritate newly sensitive skin.

Here again, new companies focusing on aging skin are coming to the rescue. I’ve had great results from brands like Womaness, Caire Beauty and Pause Well-Aging. For dry, itchy skin, look for products containing hyaluronic acid, a powerful ingredient that draws in moisture. Focus self-care on being gentle with your skin. For example, avoid skincare products and soaps that contain alcohol, fragrances, dyes or other chemicals. Limit hot showers and baths and wear loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibers. Get more tips on helping your skin age well and comfortably here

3. Rage 

In the last couple of years, more perimenopausal women are describing rage-like emotions. Sure, we all get angry and irritable from time to time, but women express surprise by this new, more intense feeling. Rage and anger are actually two different emotions. Rage is generally described as excessive anger. It’s a strong emotion that can leave you reeling. There are lots of reasons for feelings of rage. The hormonal rollercoaster that is menopause, menopause symptoms, life pressures and tough transitions are just a few. Rage is tougher to tame than feeling irritable. You need support and a multi-prong strategy that includes diet, exercise, mindfulness exercises, therapy and possibly even prescription medication. Learn more about rage and how to manage this new unexpected symptom.

4. Anxiety 

This was one of the symptoms that most took me by surprise. It was my first time encountering anxiety and it turns out, I wasn’t alone. About 23% of women experience anxiety on their menopause journey. Anxiety during menopause can be generalized or hot flash-induced. The important thing to remember is that we don’t have to live with anxiety. There are several options for reducing the severity and frequency of what can be a debilitating mental health issue, including therapy, paced breathing, exercise and sleep, along with several others. We’ve got more suggestions on managing anxiety here.

5. Joint Pain 

Stiff, aching, creaky joints are actually quite a common symptom. I think the surprising part is that one day your joints feel great and suddenly they don’t. We don’t know for sure if joint pain is a menopause symptom, but it starts to make its appearance around the menopause transition. As you age, sometimes old injuries come back to haunt you or you may be more sensitive to cold temperatures. It’s always good to talk to an expert about any pain you have, especially if it’s interfering with doing what you love or your activities of daily living. Usually, though, experts will advise you to stay active, stretch frequently, remove inflammatory foods from your diet, and manage stress levels. Find out all your options for managing joint pain holistically with our expert guide.

Menopause symptoms can be challenging, but know that you are not alone. If a symptom catches you off guard, millions of other women are also dealing with the same symptom and it can get better. Talk about what you’re experiencing with loved ones and friends. Seek support from professionals when you need to. And, we’re always here for you at Lisa Health and Better Not Younger with expert tips and resources.

Which menopause symptom caught you most by surprise? Drop us a line and share your experience at hello@lisahealth.com