Every single day in the U.S., an estimated 6,000 women reach menopause — and more than two million enter that stage each year, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Yet for many women, the symptoms of menopause — which marks the stage of life when reproductive hormones naturally decline and menstrual periods stop — go unrecognized.
There are a total of 62 different symptoms, say experts, with only 1% of women currently aware of some of the key signs, according to Jamie Winn, a South Carolina pharmacist who is also medical director of Universal Drugstore, an online pharmacy.
Winn shared six of the lesser-known symptoms of menopause, why they happen — and how women can find relief.
Read on for the insights.
During menopause, women can experience fatigue due to a combination of factors, according to Winn.
“The primary cause is hormonal changes, particularly decreased estrogen and progesterone levels, which can affect energy regulation,” said Winn, who has more than 20 years of experience in the pharmacy industry.
“Sleep disturbances, mood swings, physical symptoms and changes in metabolism also contribute to feelings of tiredness,” he noted.
Addressing fatigue during menopause often involves a holistic approach, Winn said, including maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and consulting with a health care provider for potential treatments or interventions.
2. Breast tenderness
Breast tenderness during menopause can occur due to hormonal fluctuations, especially changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, said Winn.
“These hormones influence breast tissue, and their imbalance can lead to increased sensitivity and discomfort,” he said.
While breast tenderness is more common during perimenopause — which is the phase leading up to menopause — it can still be experienced during menopause due to these hormonal shifts.
To rule out other potential, more serious causes of breast tenderness, Winn suggested consulting a health care provider.
3. Thinning hair
Many menopausal women may notice their hair thinning, another result of the associated hormonal changes.
As estrogen levels decrease, it can shift the hair growth cycle, resulting in hair becoming finer and thinner, Winn said.
“Additionally, declining hormone levels can affect hair follicles and reduce their ability to produce new hair,” he added.
Genetics, stress and nutritional factors can also contribute to hair thinning during menopause.
Some women see improvement from treatment options — including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Propecia or Minoxidil — but Winn noted that their effects can vary from person to person and should be prescribed by a health care professional.
4. Dizziness or vertigo
Dizziness or vertigo during menopause can also be attributed to hormonal fluctuations.
“These hormonal shifts can affect the inner ear’s fluid balance and its role in maintaining balance and equilibrium, leading to dizziness and vertigo,” Winn said.
Other factors, such as blood pressure fluctuations, energy drink consumption, stress and age-related changes, can also contribute.
If you are experiencing dizziness or vertigo, it’s important to speak to your health care provider to rule out other potential causes and receive appropriate guidance for managing these symptoms, the expert advised.
Due to hormone changes during menopause, notably a decline in estrogen, women can experience heightened anxiety, Winn said.
“These hormonal fluctuations can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to mood swings, irritability and anxiety,” he said.
“Other contributing factors include the physical symptoms of menopause, sleep disturbances and life changes.”
To manage anxiety during menopause, Winn recommended a combination of lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques and, in some cases, medication or counseling.
6. Brittle nails
This often–overlooked symptom is also linked to hormonal changes, particularly a decline in estrogen.
“These hormonal shifts can affect the structure and quality of nails, leading to increased fragility,” Winn said.
“Nutritional changes and age-related factors may also contribute to brittle nails.”
To address this issue, he recommended maintaining a balanced diet, using proper nail care and taking supplements as needed.
It’s best to consult with a health care provider before starting any supplement plan.
“Every woman’s experience with menopause is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another,” Winn said.
“It’s essential to work closely with your health care provider to determine the most appropriate and effective management strategies for your specific situation.”