The UK’s biggest ever study into the menopause found women recognise hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness, sleep difficulties and irregular periods are all part of the process.
But further study proves other ailments such as tinnitus, urinary infections, change in body odour, weak bones and restless legs can all be associated with this time in a woman’s life, according to specialists.
As can increased allergies, heart palpitations and changes in oral health.
Research of 5,000 women pre-menopause, in peri, or post menopause – and found even women who are at the end of their journey remain relatively clueless about what they have been through.
It also emerged that of those women who are going through, or have had their menopause, just 40 per cent visited a GP to get help for their symptoms.
Understanding your body better
This research was commissioned by hygiene and health company Essity, who have teamed up with menopause specialist Dr Naomi Potter, to create a series of educational packs to help all women better understand their changing bodies.
A common misconception among all women polled is that the menopause runs across many years.
But Dr Potter advises this transition period is called the perimenopause – and the time when hormones fluctuate can last for years and years.
The menopause occurs 12 months after a woman’s last period.
She said: “I hear of so many myths from women who are unsure about what their body will or is going through – many of whom are in total denial.
“Women believe they can’t experience symptoms in their forties because they’re not old enough, or their symptoms aren’t menopausal – when in fact if they’re over 45, it’s likely they are.
“And women are just as baffled about help available from medical professionals, believing they can’t be treated if they’re overweight, old, have migraines, have liver disease, high blood pressure and so on.
“The reason why it is so hard to pinpoint the number of symptoms is also because not all are associated with peri or menopause – people do obviously suffer with other ailments which are totally unrelated.”
Changes to hormone levels
While nearly half felt ill informed about what their body was going through, 56 per cent admitted to being constantly surprised at what they were experiencing.
Just one per cent of women were aware more unusual symptoms like urinary frequency or vaginal changes were part of the journey to menopause – until they endured them.
Similarly, only two per cent knew they would have to put up with the likes of incontinence, skin problems or heart palpations.
And just three per cent understood their feelings of dizziness, loss of confidence or loss of joy were directly linked to the change in their hormone levels.
For women who claim to be pre perimenopause, one third don’t think it happens to every female.
And four in 10 are unsure whether it can be hereditary in terms of the age it starts, or symptoms suffered.
Check with your GP first, just to be sure
A further two thirds have no idea whether the journey to menopause can decrease sex drive, and 74 per cent didn’t realise it could be linked with weight gain.
While nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of those polled, via OnePoll, don’t believe symptoms can be treated.
A spokesman for Essity, which has launched a new online menopause community called www.Issviva.co.uk, said: “This is the UK’s biggest ever study on menopause, and the findings tell us that it’s a heavily misunderstood subject.
"And the taboo surrounding it means women aren’t accessing the information and advice that could really help them.
“There’s an opportunity to bring all of the knowledge, experience and expertise that exists together in one place and that’s our objective with Issviva.
“We want it to be a one-stop-shop for all things related to the menopause, and the community aspect of it will help reassure women that they are not alone.
“Of course, anybody experiencing symptoms should visit their GP first to ensure a correct diagnosis.”
The 62 menopause symptoms, according to Dr. Naomi Potter
- Chest pain
- Breast tenderness
- Itchy skin
- Dry Skin
- Thin skin
- Collagen loss
- Brain Fog
- Memory Loss
- Poor concentration
- Word finding difficulty
- Low mood
- Worsening PMS
- Anger/ Rage /
- Joint Pain
- Joint stiffness
- Vaginal Dryness
- Vaginal discharge
- Vulval itch
- Perineal itch
- Vulval/ vaginal electric shocks
- Increase in thrush
- Increase in BV
- Poor libido
- High libido
- Weight gain
- Scalp Hair loss
- Unwanted Hair growth
- Urinary Infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary urgency
- Nocturia (getting up at night)
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Chest Tightness
- Gastric reflux
- Night Sweats
- Hot flushes
- Cold flushes
- Period increased frequency
- Periods decreased frequency
- Heavier periods
- Muscle Loss
- Dry eyes
- Watery eyes
- Burning mouth
- Gum disease
- Foot pain
- Frozen shoulder
- Histamine sensitivity
- New allergy
- Body odour change