Uncommon Symptoms of Menopause

It’s well known that Menopause and Perimenopause cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and sleep issues. But is that all? 

Absolutely not! There are 10s if not 100s of possible symptoms and symptoms and side-effects of the hormonal, physiological and mental changes that are taking place in our bodies. 

We’re going to zoom in on a few of the easier to miss – and easier to misdiagnose – symptoms that menopause could be the root cause of! 

Sensitive digestion

It’s impossible to go through life without experiencing some periods of digestive discomfort. In fact lots of women put up with recurring digestive issues every single month. 

That’s because Oestrogen and Progesterone play a role in the function of your digestive system. As these hormones fall during Perimenopause it can result in the processing of food through the GI tract becoming sluggish, causing an increase in water absorption that leads to adverse symptoms like constipation and bloating.

In this situation, increasing the amount of fibre and pre/probiotics in your diet is very helpful for the health of your gut microbiome.

Tinnitus / Sound Sensitivity

The exact details of the link between oestrogen and hearing is a bit of a mystery, but we do know that there are oestrogen receptors inside your ear, so it’s very likely that oestrogen is helping to protect your inner ear.

So as oestrogen levels fall across the menopause, susceptibility to hearing loss, sound sensitivity and tinnitus increases. Studies have demonstrated a link between low oestrogen levels and impaired hearing.

As a woman who’s been to many loud gigs in my life, I’ve slowly learned to take better care of my ears and I have been taking extra precautions during my menopause! We’re lucky to have access to plenty of ear plugs on the market that filter out high, damaging frequencies but still allow us to enjoy the experience just as much, so a pair of these would be a great choice.

Changes in libido

Hormone levels play a major role in our sex drive. Testosterone is the primary driver of our sexual desire, and drops off gradually throughout our life. 

So a natural fall-off in sex drive is perfectly normal. 

But it’s also normal for stress to increase and stress resilience to decrease during the menopause due to the way oestrogen interacts with our stress hormone cortisol. And it’s also well-observed that menopause is linked to an increased likelihood of developing sleep disorders and insomnia.

Why does this matter for libido? Well, being stressed and tired is not sexy at all. 

This is to say that a reduced sex drive is not always just ‘something that happens to everyone’ and supporting the menopause-affected root causes can drastically improve your desire!

Changes in hair growth and texture

Menopausal women often notice reduced hair volume and growth. Guess what’s behind it? 

Yep, it’s oestrogen again! 

It seems like oestrogen is behind everything right? Just goes to show how interconnected and crucial our hormone system is to our overall health. 

Oestrogen helps keep your hair in the growth phase for longer, so as it decreases across perimenopause, your hair starts to shift through its phases faster, causing it to grow less long and fall out more often which leads to thinning.

Changes in allergies

Another uncommon symptom is changes in allergies, and changes in the way our body responds to allergies.

Oestrogen is at it again! This time it’s playing a role in stimulating your immune system to make more histamine to combat pollen and intolerances. When your body is producing too much oestrogen compared to progesterone – oestrogen dominance – it can lead to excess histamine and intolerance. 

But if oestrogen levels are dropping during our perimenopause and menopause, why would new histamine intolerance start? 

Because progesterone levels commonly fall quicker than oestrogen, this leads to an imbalance and oestrogen dominance. So women who have previously had pretty well balanced hormones – and therefore less allergies – can become oestrogen dominant and suffer with those symptoms.