Yes, you read that right, menopause can cause up to 34 highly varied symptoms (also known as climacteric), ranging from the famous hot flashes and night sweats to more bizarre ones such as a burning mouth or sensations of electric shocks. But you don't need to worry too much because 1) not all women experience all symptoms to the same extent and 2) there are things you can do to alleviate them. But let's start at the beginning with the very basics of this natural biological process in a woman's life.

The time before menopause is called perimenopause (meaning “around menopause”). It usually begins at age 40 when levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to drop. These hormones, which are produced in the ovaries, have many functions in a woman's body. At this stage, the woman continues to have menstrual periods, although they may become irregular, and she is quite possibly still fertile. You may also start to feel some discomfort such as fatigue, weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings, etc.

Menopause marks the end of menstrual periods and the fertile stage. It is diagnosed when a woman has gone 12 months without menstruation. According to the Mayo Clinic, menopause can occur between the ages of 40 and 50, but the average age is 51 in the United States. By that time, at least 85% of women experience some type of climacteric symptoms. According to a recent study by the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, more than half of women experience these unpleasant symptoms for seven or more years, especially hot flashes and night sweats. These eventually go away for 90% of women.

And what are the 34 symptoms? Depression, anxiety, sleep problems, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, joint pain, osteoporosis, hair changes, headaches, irregular heartbeat, weight gain, memory changes, difficulty concentrating, night sweats, bloating, irregular menstrual periods, breast pain, tingling extremities, burning mouth, taste changes and oral dryness, digestive changes, muscle pain and tension, electric shock sensation, itching, urinary incontinence, dizziness, allergies , brittle nails, increased body odor, irritability, panic disorder, and mood swings.

Now, does this mean you're going to have all those symptoms? No, each woman is different and experiences the symptoms with different intensities. According to a study carried out in Cuba, for 49% of women the symptoms are severe, for 31% of women they are moderate and for 23% of women they are mild.

Again, don't worry because there are things you can do to alleviate them: maintain a healthy diet high in phytoestrogens, with lean proteins, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and low in hot, spicy foods, sugars, salt, caffeine; limit alcohol consumption and smoking; exercise daily combining cardio with strength and resistance; take natural supplements designed to alleviate the most common symptoms of menopause, and most importantly, despite everything, keep a positive attitude to make this inevitable phase the best of our lives.


December 12, 2022 — Laura Posada