When we asked women this past year what they knew about menopause before starting their own journey, their answers were overwhelmingly, “not much”. Beyond hot flashes and night sweats as well as no more periods, many women were unaware of what to expect, and were caught by surprise by the widespread impact on their bodies and emotions. One woman commented that she thought menopause was something that “just sort of happened”. She shared, “I guess like when I got my period for the first time - it started without warning. So [I thought my periods] would just stop, and there would be much rejoicing.”
We followed up with the question of what surprised them most about menopause. And their answers were just as unique as the experience of menopause is to every woman. While the majority of respondents answered that they suffered with multiple vexing symptoms, we were delighted to hear it wasn’t all bad. Some women are also finding the silver lining in this transitional stage of life. As one woman put it, “Menopause isn’t just one thing, but many experiences. And it doesn’t have to mean that I’m old or past my prime. I can still feel good and vibrant and have energy. Weight gain isn’t inevitable and CAN be controlled. I can build endurance and strength if I carve out the time. And I’m worth the effort. That said, the inability to sleep soundly and consistently has been the hardest and most frustrating aspect of menopause.”
Women learn from other women’s experiences. And feeling like you are not alone in menopause can be very good for your emotional health. Here are 25 surprising things women shared they have experienced with menopause.
What has been the most surprising aspect of menopause?
- “How much the change in hormone levels affects every aspect of your life.”
- “How my body and brain are fairly unrecognizable when compared to my body and brain of even 12 months ago.”
- “Hair loss, sleeplessness, forgetfulness, belly fat (even though I never had children).”
- “Mood changes, joint pain, itchy & dry skin, scalp hair changes, breast cysts forming, vaginal dryness, digestion slowing down, that it can start many years before actually stopping!”
- “The most surprising aspect has been how hard menopause hit my body. I've always been blessed with good health and an active lifestyle. I never expected to develop vertigo, an anxiety disorder, or have my nervous system feel like it's on fire. I never thought it would disrupt my life as it has. And I never thought I would fight with my body so much.”
- “I was most surprised that my OB/GYN really couldn't help with this aspect of my health. Not a lot of knowledge about menopause and she did not have the time to review all the options out there for me to explore like HRT, supplements, and lifestyle changes.”
- “That I started perimenopause WAY, WAY before I even knew what was going on with my body. I had no idea why I felt the way I did, and why my periods were so terrible for so many years in my early 40's. How tired I would feel. How it would affect so much of who I am; my confidence, my sex drive, my energy level, and don't get me started with the brain fog. So much brain fog. It's scary.”
- “That it happened so early.. also Lichens sclerosis.”
- “I’m amazed that my sleep is now so compromised. I can fall asleep no problem, but staying asleep is a challenge.”
- “How it has affected my life as far as having brain fog, anxiety, ringing in my ears.”
- “That at a certain point you start experiencing a lot of different symptoms, some days more some days less, your body starts changing and your brain too...and you start asking yourself what’s going on? After a while you ask yourself why nobody told me about this?”
- “The feeling that my body has lost control of its normal disposition. I experienced extreme anxiety attacks, palpitations and an elevated heart-rate. Nothing I had heard of being the typical menopause symptoms…”
- “I get nauseous right before a hot flash. Also, how night sweats come one right after the other and I haven't slept in weeks.”
- “Crawly skin, tingling and pins and needle.. heavy head/burning scalp/ and muscle weakness to name a few.”
- “To lose my eyebrows… and grow facial hair on my lip and at the side of my face.”
- “Neurological symptoms: brain fog, mood swings, depression.”
- “It totally sucks! I hate not feeling in control of my moods or my body!”
- “My biggest problems were the symptoms I did not attribute to menopause. I was deeply concerned I was in early onset Alzheimer’s. Unable to find words, not complex words but everyday nouns. Both of my Grandmas had Alzheimer’s, but not at the age of 50. The utter relief I felt after learning this happens in menopause, I can't even describe how I felt!”
- “Anxiety. Major mood swings. Emotional rollercoaster. No libido.”
- “How fast it has hit me. And the amount of discomfort I have in my feet and legs on a daily basis”
- “Loss of words, hairs in new and unwelcome places, the sudden onslaught of anxiety over unfixable past actions, social anxiety, and the sharp increase in caring what others think of me.”
- “How absolutely out of control I feel. I have been suffering from such random symptoms like rashes, headaches, heavy periods, joint pain, anxiety, depression, weight gain. I thought I was going mad! I am 48 and I feel like an old woman. A few months later, I realized that I was in real trouble when I started feeling anxious and depressed. Please note that I have never ever suffered with either.”
- “I LOVE being the AGE of menopause. I wish I had more answers so I could move through it with more clarity. I’d love to feel like I had more control.”
- “The increase in confidence in who I am and what I have to offer, and I pick things and activities because I like them, not because of how others will perceive me.”
- “The freedom and empowerment.”
Your menopause journey is as unique as you are. And while some symptoms are more common than others, our integrated menopause care team is trained to support you through them all. Join the 94% of women who have found relief in menopause by visiting with a Gennev board-certified OB/GYN who specializes in menopause.
The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.