8 surprising menopause symptoms

Patsy Westcott / 14 February 2017 ( 21 May 2019 )

Most of us know the classic signs, such as flushes, sweats and insomnia, but the menopause can also bring a range of less familiar, unexpected problems.

Best treatments for menopause symptoms


Fast or irregular heartbeats are common and often linked to hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms.

Help yourself

  • Rest and breathe quietly for five minutes – they will usually subside.
  • Medication such as beta-blockers can help keep them at bay.
  • Alcohol and caffeine can exacerbate symptoms, so steer clear.
  • If you also experience dizziness, fainting, or tightness in the chest or neck, seek immediate medical help.

Palpitations can also be a symptom of Atrial Fibrillation, find out more

Joint aches and pains

Osteoarthritis often kicks in at menopause as a result of loss of oestrogen’s anti-inflammatory effect.

Help yourself

  • Try yoga, walking and muscle-strengthening exercises, such as squats and lunges, to attempt to stabilize joints.
  • A hot-water bottle or heat pack can increase mobility before exercise. A cold pack can reduce inflammation and swelling.

Aching joints – what’s the cause?

Itchy skin

Known medically as pruritus, this is usually caused by drier skin, due to a lack of oestrogen.

Help yourself

  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, such as herrings, salmon and fortified eggs.
  • Shower in warm water rather than bathe, and use gloves for washing up - hot water can be harsh and drying.
  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.

Common skin problems in the over-50s – including pruritus

Advice from Dr Mark Porter on dealing with itchy legs

Hair loss

If your parting seems wider or you can see your scalp through your hair, you could have female pattern hair loss.

Help yourself

  • Look out for shampoos, conditioners and other products for thinning hair.
  • Scalp massage may help.
  • See the doctor - several medications are available.

How to thicken hair in six easy steps

Help for thinning hair

The best foods to eat if you have thinning hair

Foggy brain

This can include difficulty recalling words or numbers, needing memory aids, and forgetting why you were doing something, such as going upstairs.

Help yourself

  • Stress exacerbates a muddled brain - take regular breaks and give yourself wind-down time.
  • Make notes, use Post-its and your mobile to remind you of appointments and so on.
  • Studies suggest ginkgo biloba may help improve blood flow to the brain.

Six unusual causes of forgetfulness

Five ways to supercharge your memory

Eat smart: brain-boosting tips

Get smart: increase your brain power

Five of the best brain training apps

Vertigo and dizziness

Recent research found that menopausal women are more prone to BPPV – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo – in which the world appears to be spinning when you look up or turn over in bed, due to fluctuating hormones.

Help yourself

  • Low levels of Vitamin D could be to blame.  Check your levels at the surgery or get a self-test kit from the pharmacy.
  • The Epley manouevre, which involves turning the head in a specific way, can often help. Your doctor or a physio can do it.
  • If simple self-help doesn’t work, see the doctor. Medications are available.

Dizziness: symptoms, causes and treatments

10 simple ways to reduce dizziness

Learn more about Vitamin D

10 ways to boost your Vitamin D levels

Irritable bowel syndrome

Symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, bowel discomfort and changes in bowel patterns together with diarrhoea and/or constipation – are more common as a result of the effects of fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone on pain ‘pathways’ in the gut and the brain.

Help yourself

  • Insoluble fibre (bran) found in wholemeal bread and cereals can exacerbate symptoms, so steer clear.
  • Soluble fibre, found in foods such as oats, pulses and linseeds can, by contrast, help, especially with bloating, so try to eat every day
  • Probiotics can help rebalance gut bacteria, which may be a factor in IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome treatments

Eight ways to control your IBS symptoms

Gut instinct: recognising bowel disorders

Burning mouth

Tender, tingling, hot, scalding, and numb sensations in the mouth are thought to be due to activation of pain-sensitive nerve cells surrounding the taste buds at the back of the tongue.

Help yourself

  • Steer clear of alcohol and products containing it, including mouthwashes. They can irritate the lining of your mouth.
  • Avoid spicy foods and acidic foods and drinks, such as tomatoes, orange juice, soft drinks and coffee.
  • Try mild or flavour-free toothpastes or ones for sensitive teeth.

10 foods that fight aches and pains

For advice on beating long-term menopausal symptoms, see the March issue of Saga Magazine.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.