I first started experiencing symptoms of menopause about fifteen years ago. I was a registered nurse at the time, and I felt prepared for the transition. I would sail right through it.
But I was astonished by the myriad of symptoms. Menopause was affecting me mentally, physically, and emotionally. For support, I leaned on a group of girlfriends who were all experiencing the same difficulties.
We all lived in different places, so we met annually on one weekend for 13 years. We exchanged stories and shared helpful tips or remedies for managing our menopause symptoms. We laughed a lot, and we cried a lot — together. Using our collective wisdom, we started the Menopause Goddess Blog.
There is a lot of information out there on symptoms like hot flashes, dryness, decreased libido, anger, and depression. But there are five other important symptoms we rarely hear of. Read on to learn more about these symptoms and how they may affect you.
1. Brain fog
Seemingly overnight, my ability to process information and solve problems was compromised. I thought I was losing my mind, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get it back.
It felt like an actual cloud of fog had rolled into my head, obscuring the world around me. I couldn’t remember common words, how to read a map, or balance my checkbook. If I made a list, I would leave it somewhere and forget where I put it.
Like the majority of menopause symptoms, brain fog is temporary. Still, it helps to take steps to decrease its effects.
How to deal
Exercise your brain. Play word games or learn a new language. Online brain exercise programs like Lumosity open new pathways by enhancing neuroplasticity. You can take an online course in a foreign language or whatever else interests you. I still play Lumosity. I feel like my brain is stronger now than before this menopause.
I was never an anxious person, until menopause.
I would wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares. I found myself worrying about everything and anything. What’s making that weird noise? Are we out of cat food? Is my son going to be OK when he’s on his own? And, I was always assuming the worst possible outcomes for things.
Anxiety can affect your life during menopause. It can cause you to feel doubt and unease. However, if you’re able to recognize it as a symptom of menopause and nothing more, you may be able to regain more control of your thoughts.
How to deal
Try deep breathing and meditation. Valerian and CBD oil can relax severe anxiety. Be sure to ask your doctor if these are right for you.
3. Hair loss
When my hair began to thin and fall out, I panicked. I would wake up with clumps of hair on my pillow. When I showered, hair would cover the drain. Many of my Menopause Goddess sisters experienced the same thing.
My hairdresser told me not to worry and that it was just hormonal. But that wasn’t comforting. I was losing my hair!
My hair stopped falling out several months later, but it hasn’t regained its volume. I’ve learned how to work with my new hair.
How to deal
Get a layered haircut and use a volumizing cream for style. Highlights can also make your hair look thicker. Shampoos made for thinning hair help, too.
The fatigue during menopause can consume you. Sometimes, I’d wake up after a full night’s rest still feeling tired.
How to deal
Be kind to yourself until the worst of it passes. Take frequent breaks and sleep when you need to. Treat yourself to a massage. Stay home and read a book instead of running an errand. Slow down.
5. Immune dysfunction
Menopause also takes a toll on your immune system. While you’re going through menopause, you may have your first outbreak of shingles. You’re at a higher risk of infection because of immune dysfunction.
I contracted a cardiac virus at the onset of menopause. I made a full recovery, but it took a year and a half.
How to deal
Healthy eating, exercise, and stress reduction can support your immune system, preventing or lessening any effects.
The most important thing to remember is that these are symptoms of menopause and that they’re normal. Women can handle anything when they know what to expect. Practice self-care and be kind to yourself. Menopause may seem scary at first, but it can also bring a new beginning.
Lynette Sheppard, RN, is an artist and writer who hosts the popular Menopause Goddess Blog. Within the blog, women share humor, health, and heart about menopause and menopause remedies. Lynette is also the author of the book “Becoming a Menopause Goddess.”