What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Menopause?

Key Takeaways
  • Menopause symptoms and the severity of the symptoms can vary widely from one person to another.
  • Common menopause symptoms include sleep disruption, brain fog, hot flashes and/or night sweats, vaginal dryness and changes in libido.
  • If left unmanaged, hormone fluctuations during menopause can increase the risk of serious long-term medical issues.
  • Menopause symptoms often start to occur in the late 30's to mid 40’s as perimenopause begins.

Menopause is a universal transition for every person assigned female at birth. Similar to experiencing puberty but in reverse, menopause marks a period of change that, while entirely natural, can present its own set of challenges.

Menopause symptoms can interfere with the daily lives of 75% of people during the transition, with 1 in 4 experiencing severe symptoms. So severe that in Canada, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 may leave their jobs, due to unmanaged menopause symptoms.

A key part of managing this transition with confidence is understanding menopause and its associated symptoms, because while menopause is inevitable, suffering through the symptoms doesn’t have to be.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Menopause?

Like puberty, menopause symptoms can vary widely from one person to another. Some people may only experience certain symptoms, and the severity of these symptoms can range anywhere from mild to intense, depending on the individual.

With that in mind, some common menopause symptoms include:

  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding (i.e., heavy, irregular periods)
  • Sleep disruption
  • Temporary cognitive changes (also called brain fog)
  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Discomfort during sexual activities
  • Changes in libido
  • Urinary issues, including increased risks of infections
  • Weight gain (particularly around the abdomen)
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Facial hair growth
  • Acne
  • Mood changes, including anxiety and depression

If you’re in your late 30's, and these symptoms are starting to affect your ability to enjoy life, there are supports available to you. Talk to a healthcare practitioner at Felix, and they can discuss potential treatment options that will help alleviate the specific symptoms you’re experiencing.

What Are the Earliest Signs of Menopause?

The journey through perimenopause and menopause is unique to each individual, influenced by health, age, biology, genetics, and medical history. Symptoms vary widely throughout the menopause continuum, from irregular periods and mood changes to hot flashes and changes in libido.

Often starting in the late thirties to mid forties, perimenopause marks the beginning of the menopause transition. At this point, women may experience menopause-related symptoms, such as:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Changes in libido
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep disturbances

What Are Menopause Hot Flashes?

Menopause hot flashes are one of the most commonly recognized symptoms of menopause that people seek treatment for; likely due to the strong impact it can have on daily comfort and sleep.

Also known as the vasomotor symptoms, hot flashes are sudden feelings of warmth that can lead to discomfort and sweating; primarily in the face, neck, and chest.

It’s believed that Menopause hot flashes occur, because of the reduction of estrogen during the menopause transition. In turn, this impacts your body’s regulation of temperature. The exact mechanism isn’t fully understood, but it’s known that these hormonal adjustments affect the hypothalamus (your body’s natural thermometer).

Essentially, your body thinks that it’s overheating, even when it isn’t. This signals your skin to open its blood vessels and sweat glands to cool you down.

Since you’re not actually overheating, this can lead to discomfort, feeling overheated, excessive sweating, and flushing; with each episode lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes.

When hot flashes happen overnight, they’re called ‘night sweats’. This is because many people wake up soaked in sweat. Over time, this can cause long-term sleep problems, if left untreated.

Can Menopause Affect My Sex Drive?

Yes, menopause can affect your sex drive, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life.

On one hand, it can influence sexual desire and comfort. Reduced estrogen levels can lead to a decreased libido, as well as vaginal dryness that could cause pain during sexual activities.

Some treatments, like hormone therapy, open communication with your partner, and enlisting the support of a pelvic floor physiotherapist or sex therapist can be so beneficial. Not only can it help you address the changes, but it can help you take back control of your sex life, on your terms.

If you’d like to learn more about potential treatments for specific menopause symptoms, talk to a healthcare practitioner from Felix. They’ll be able to explore personalized options with you, based on your individual health and medical history.

Can Menopause Cause Mood Swings?

The relationship between menopause and mood swings is complex. The fluctuating hormone levels associated with menopause can potentially lead to irritability, forgetfulness, sleep disruption, as well as anxiety and depression.

These emotional shifts and lack of sleep can significantly impact your well-being, which is why it’s so essential to recognize and address these symptoms as early as possible.

Can Menopause Cause Weight Gain?

While it is true that many people gain weight during the menopausal transition, there is no scientific evidence that points to menopause or hormone management being responsible for midlife weight gain.

Weight gain may not be a direct symptom of menopause, but it doesn’t change the fact that many people experience weight gain during midlife; especially around the abdomen.

These changes could be a result of a combination of factors:

  • Hormone adjustments
  • Lifestyle factors (i.e., exercising less, diet, etc.)
  • Aging

If you’re concerned about gaining weight during menopause, talking to a healthcare practitioner from Felix can help. There are a number of weight loss programs and treatments available, which can be suggested to create a safe and supportive weight management plan for you.

What Other Life Changes Affect Menopause?

Genetics play a huge role in determining when a person will begin the menopausal transition, which is part of the reason why this experience looks so different from one person to another.

FUN FACT: If you have an older sister, the age at which they start menopause will be more predictive of the age you can expect to start the transition than the age that your mother started hers.

Other factors that can impact menopause include:


Stress can actually exacerbate menopausal symptoms, like mood swings and hot flashes.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is common during menopause, and it can affect overall health.


Things like smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet can worsen menopause symptoms.

Health Conditions

Certain medical conditions (i.e., thyroid disorders), can impact the severity of menopause symptoms.

Emotional Health

Menopause can coincide with other significant life changes (i.e., children leaving home, aging parents, etc.), which can affect your emotional well-being.

When Should I Call a Doctor?

If you’re starting to feel like menopause symptoms are impacting your daily quality of life, know that you can reach out for support. Regardless of whether you’re experiencing severe symptoms, or you just want some guidance, Felix can help.

We understand the complexities of menopause and are dedicated to providing evidence-based care to help you need to navigate this transition as smoothly as possible.

Through recognizing and addressing your individual symptoms, our goal is to empower you to live life on your own terms. We want to help you embrace the changes that accompany menopause with positivity and confidence.

Menopause may be a natural part of life, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it. Talk to one of our practitioners. With Felix by your side, you can take control of your symptoms, so you can thrive through this next chapter of your life.

While our use of the term 'women' when talking about the menopause transition is based on existing scientific research and literature, we recognize this is not inclusive of everyone's experience. To the transgender men and non-binary folx who will experience menopause, and the transgender women who won't — know that we see you and are continuing to work toward a way to create space for everyone in this conversation.

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