Is it Menopause or Something Else?

mistaken for menopause what can mimic menopause symptoms what if it's not menopause Mar 18, 2024

Is it Menopause or Something Else?

The rise of menopause information. 

In this vlog, I want to chat to you about all the things that you could have thought, oh, it's menopause.

Because menopause is a really hot topic, isn't it?

I've been working in the world of the menopause for about 10 or 11 years and in the last two or three years, there has been an explosion of interest. Everybody's talking about it!

It's being given as the reason for so many things and each of the time is probably influential in the way we as women feel as we navigate our way through our 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, but it's not responsible for everything.

And I think it's really important to put another slant on some of these ways of thinking.


The many symptoms of menopause

So I think originally when the menopause symptoms were listed out, there was something like 32 symptoms.

And I think it's gone up to about 45 now!

And many of us have heard of many of them, but there are still a few symptoms that aren't talked about very much - in fact I did a blog about some of the more unusual symptoms which you can see HERE. 

But I just wanted to take some of the common symptoms and get you to potentially think about are the reasons that you may well be struggling with these, and not just assume it's all down to your hormones.


Menopause Fatigue and Insomnia

I'm going to start with a really simple one, um, which is fatigue and insomnia.

We know that hot flushes (or hot flashes as they're called in the US) are often the thing that wake us up in the middle of the night, hot and sweaty. We also know that we may wake up at 3am and can't get back to sleep.  

One of the reasons for this can be the decline in oestrogen and progesterone, but there are plenty of other reasons why many women might not be able to sleep and why we are are exhausted all the time. We're dealing with so much stuff in our lives at the moment.

Many of us are dealing with the care of elderly relatives, elderly parents, we're dealing with kids who are leaving home or coming back and leaving home again. We're dealing with grandchildren. We're running the Committee, we're at a high point of our career. We're juggling all of those plates and we are tired, but we're expected to hold down all of these roles, and it's very rare that anybody ever says, you go and have a break.

So it's no wonder you are tired! Don't beat yourself up over it. It could just be where you are at in your life right now. And the best thing for you may be to start saying no to some of these things, so that you get back a little bit of quality time for you.


Urinary infections and discomfort

Many women, as they grew up through 30s and 40s, 20s, 30s, 40s, got used to having cystitis once or twice a year. It was one of those things that you dealt with, and you went along and you got some Cymalon from the pharmacist, and if it didn't go, you went to the doctor and he or she gave you some antibiotics, and it normally passed.

And then, for many women, that stage of the frequent cystitis disappeared and we didn't get it.

Now, as our oestrogen levels go down, our tissues in our urethra, and vagina, and anus, all of that pelvic bowl, your tissues become very much thinner. And that increases the likelihood of getting a urine infection.

But it's often not caused by an infection, it's caused by these thin tissues. And in fact, a little bit of vaginal oestrogen, prescribed by your doctor or purchased over the counter, can be the thing that stops you getting these recurrent episodes. But it's not necessarily always the case.

It's really important if you are peeing blood, if you're in incredible pain in your back or kidney area or bladder area, don't assume that you don't need to go to the doctor.

Yes, we can get cystitis because of infection.

Yes, we can get cystitis like feelings from the menopause and our decline in hormones, but please don't sit at home and think you've just got to suck it up and get rid of it and wait for it to go away without getting some advice.

If you are concerned and it's been going on for more than 24, 48 hours and you're in a lot of pain or there's blood in your urine, please go and get that checked out.


Palpitations - or a fluttery feeling in your chest

Another important topic to address is palpitations. Many women experience this fluttering sensation in their chest as part of their menopausal transition. Palpitations, while often benign, meaning not a cause for immediate concern, can be unsettling. They stem from the decline in estrogen, which affects the heart muscle. However, if you're also experiencing chest pain, breathlessness, or neck tightness, especially during exertion like walking uphill, it's crucial to seek medical attention.

Don't brush it off thinking it's just a symptom of menopause.

Palpitations should not be ignored, as they could indicate an underlying issue. If you're worried about palpitations that haven't been evaluated by a healthcare professional, it's essential to get them checked out promptly. Delaying could potentially lead to complications. 


Menopause Joint pain

Joint pain, a topic I discuss extensively!! 

Our shoulders, knees, and ankles, the classic "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" areas, often experience stiffness and tightness as estrogen levels decline. It's akin to the WD-40 in our joints running low. However, joint pain isn't always attributed solely to menopause. It could indicate other conditions such as osteoarthritis, bursitis, or injuries. If you're experiencing joint pain, especially if it's localized to one area rather than being symmetrical, and traditional remedies like rest and anti-inflammatory medications aren't providing relief, it's essential to seek professional evaluation.

Consulting a physiotherapist or your doctor can help determine the underlying cause and provide tailored treatment, which might include specific exercises to alleviate discomfort.

Remember, while joint pain is a common aspect of aging, it's not always due to menopause, and seeking medical advice can lead to effective management strategies.


Mood swings and growling at those we love!

Mood swings, a common occurrence when we're juggling multiple responsibilities, from managing households to ensuring everyone's safety.

Feeling a bit moody isn't uncommon, but it's not always attributable to menopause! It could simply be a result of the overwhelming demands of life. However, mood swings could also signal underlying issues like thyroid problems that require attention. If you're experiencing persistent mood fluctuations despite undergoing menopausal transition and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), seeking a second opinion is advisable. It's essential to rule out other potential causes contributing to your emotional well-being.

Similarly, brain fog and memory issues are often associated with menopause due to declining estrogen levels affecting cognitive function. However, consider the multitude of tasks cluttering your mind daily – from remembering appointments to managing various responsibilities. It's no wonder you may experience lapses in memory or difficulty concentrating. This cognitive fog may stem more from life's demands than solely hormonal changes.

While menopause can certainly impact cognitive function, don't overlook the possibility of other factors contributing to brain fog. Ultimately, it's essential to consider both hormonal and lifestyle factors when addressing mood swings and cognitive challenges during menopause.



Dry and Itchy skin

Let's talk about itchy skin! You may have experienced that sensation, like tiny spiders crawling under our skin, a phenomenon known as formication.

But did you know that dry skin can also cause intense itching?

I vividly recall my grandmother's legs, dry and scaly, a result of neglecting proper skincare. In our busy lives, we often overlook skincare, either due to lack of time or using inadequate moisturizers. Skin health is influenced by where we are in life, perhaps as much as by our hormones.

If you're not prioritizing skincare and using the right products, you might inadvertently exacerbate the problem. Introducing self-care and choosing suitable skincare products can make a world of difference. So, consider pampering your skin with the care it deserves—it could be the key to relieving that pesky itchiness.


Irregular Periods

And lastly, let's talk about irregular periods.

During the perimenopause transition, your menstrual cycle can become unpredictable, ranging from every 28 days to as long as 96 days.

However, it's essential to recognize that not all irregularities are solely due to perimenopause. If you're experiencing concerns, especially if your periods haven't ceased entirely and you're still in the fluctuating stage, it's crucial to seek medical advice.

It's important not to attribute every symptom to menopause alone.

While menopause is a significant phase in life, there are various other health conditions and illnesses that may affect us. So, if you're struggling with any symptom mentioned or others, don't hesitate to seek advice from a healthcare professional. Your well-being matters, and it's always better to address concerns promptly.


Thank you for tuning in, and I look forward to sharing more vlogs with you soon. 


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