The life chapter that is menopause can feel strange. No two bodies experience symptoms in the same way. So if you feel as though you have unusual menopause symptoms, you’re not alone.
Menopause is technically defined as twelve months after your period ends—but it’s best understood as a transition that happens over a phase of a few years.
During this time, you may experience many physical and psychological shifts.
The problem is, we don’t talk about this time of life nearly enough.
The result? While you may be frantically Googling I have weird symptoms with perimenopause, your symptoms may not be as “weird” as you think.
The more we connect on this, the easier it’s going to be to get through it.
In this article 📝
- Why do I feel so weird during menopause?
- Can menopause cause weird symptoms?
- Can menopause make you feel ill?
- What are the rare symptoms of menopause?
Why do I feel so weird during menopause?
There are major changes afoot, and no transition of this magnitude is easy. (Hey, do you think the caterpillar has an easy time popping out those wings?)
When you reach perimenopause, the hormones that govern your menstrual cycle go through an overhaul, meaning changes in levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen.
With these hormonal shifts may come a host of “weird” symptoms.
Obviously, the most noticeable change that you will experience is that your period, a monthly staple for approximately 35 years, begins to retire itself.
Usually without your detection, the behavior of FSH—the hormone that controls your ovaries during your menstrual cycle—shifts with age.
During your menstruating life, FSH increases each month, causing the follicles in your ovaries to enlarge and produce estrogen. This, in turn, helps your ovaries produce eggs.
During perimenopause, FSH can seem to go almost haywire. In what may seem really counterintuitive, as the number of follicles and their capacity to be stimulated drops, higher levels of FSH can be detected in your blood.
(This is sometimes used as a menopause test—although it’s not as reliable as we would like. FSH levels rise and fall throughout the menopausal transition, making certainty hard to come by.)
Added to this, FSH and estrogen are not the only disrupters here. Progesterone—the hormone that helps regulate your cycle and prepare your uterus for pregnancy—also falls over this time.
Yep, there’s a lot going on.
Can menopause cause weird symptoms?
The short answer? Yes. Such. Weird. Symptoms.
But because they are so commonly experienced, the only thing truly weird about them is that we consider them weird.
And while hormones are responsible for many of the symptoms you may experience, the psychological effects of this transitionary time cannot be underestimated.
You’re moving into a whole new phase of existence. Careers, families, societal expectations—everything may feel as though it’s shifting right now. It’s no wonder it will affect how you’re feeling day-to-day.
Can menopause make you feel ill?
The short answer? Yep. But that doesn’t mean you have to just suck it up and deal.
Navigating this transition with the help of your healthcare provider, accessing support from friends and family, and joining the Peanut community can all help make this time more manageable.
Before we talk about the less common symptoms of menopause, let’s start with the more well-known ones that make the news.
- Hot flashes. Yep, the iconic image of the menopausal heat surge often seems to top the charts when it comes to the symptoms you might expect. While the research is still young on exactly what causes hot flashes, it’s pointing toward hormones and their role in regulating your internal thermostat, called your hypothalamus. Because hot flashes often occur at night, they can really get in the way of a good night’s sleep.
- Nausea. Menopause nausea is real. Lowered levels of progesterone do a number on your digestive tract, and may leave you feeling a bit sick to your stomach. You may also feel bloated and crampy and retain some fluids. What a ride.
- Incontinence. Those pelvic muscles are feeling like it’s time to chill. Caution: leaks may happen.
- Anxiety and depression. Talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two can do wonders. You don’t have to go on, business-as-usual. This is a big deal.
- Vaginal dryness. This can make sex painful, but there’s still hope. You can still have a thriving sex life post-menopause.
- Hair growth. Spoiler alert—we’re not talking about on top of your head.
What are the rare symptoms of menopause?
There are some less common symptoms of menopause—some of which can be concerning. Here are the symptoms that rarely make it to the headlines.
Unusual symptoms of menopause
- Burning mouth syndrome. Yep, it’s a thing. As if you’ve burned your mouth on a hot soup. It can affect your tongue, lips, gums, palate and throat. You may also notice a metallic taste in your mouth. It’s those hormones again. Decreased estrogen = decreased saliva = weird sensations in your mouth.
- Brain fog. If you feel you can’t concentrate or remember as well as you used to, you’re not alone. This work from the University of Rochester shows that the link between menopause and cognitive performance (brain fog) is significant. As the research develops, the hope is that more targeted treatments will become available.
- Body odor. You may be stickier than usual, and that can lead to some pungent aromas.
- Sore breasts. If the pain feels intolerable, there are treatments available for this that may be appropriate for you. Hormone Replacement Therapy is one option. (Here’s what the FDA has to say about the options.) Symptomatic relief is another. Talk to your doctor about whether they might be a good fit.
- Symptoms linked to stroke and heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. The risk goes up substantially when you hit menopause. If you are experiencing a combination of severe symptoms—such as hot flashes, dizziness, gastrointestinal issues—it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as you can. There is also evidence to suggest that going through menopause early may increase your risk.
There is no one way to have this experience. The bottom line is you don’t have to do it alone. The more we talk to each other, the more informed and less isolated we will be. Let’s have the conversation.