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Beyond Hot Flashes: Discovering Unexpected Menopause Symptoms

Happy #WomensDay! Today, on March 8th, we are celebrating all of the incredible women in our lives and pushing for gender equality and women’s rights. Towards that belief we think there are many things that aren’t talked about enough including birth control, vaginal health, and taking women’s health seriously. Many women talk about how their symptoms aren’t taken seriously by their partners or doctors and often go undiagnosed and untreated for health issues that affect their everyday life bringing us to today’s topic… menopause!

As women, the physical stages of life we go through can really feel like a roller coaster.  There’s the onset of menstruation, hormonal fluctuations as teenagers and young adults, a pregnancy or two, and, just when we thought our bodies were getting into a natural rhythm, hormonal fluctuations return with a slide into the menopausal phase of life.

While many women are familiar with the commonly discussed symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and changes in menstrual cycles there are many other curious manifestations that can be applied to this dynamic stage of life.  Subtle shifts in skin health to changes in cognitive function are just a few of the surprising physical, emotional and psychological changes that can manifest during this transformative phase. 

We certainly don’t want to diminish hot flashes, but did you know that menopausal symptoms can pop up all over your body and in very uncommon ways?  We want you to know that you are not going crazy if you have experienced any of the following and wondered if your body is signaling it’s changing state:

  • Skin Changes – Hormonal shifts that lead to reduced collagen production can wreak havoc on skin resulting in dryness, increased wrinkles, and itching.  Some women will even experience a resurgence of acne due to up and down hormones. 
  • Creepy Crawlies – If you’ve noticed a strange crawling sensation, any numbness, or pins and needles in your hands, feet, arms, and legs, it could be a symptom of menopause.  This odd feeling known as Paresthesia usually only lasts for a few minutes at a time.  Fluctuating estrogen levels impacting the central nervous system are to blame.
  • Breast Tenderness – If you’ve had a baby then you probably have a very clear memory of the breast pain and fullness of pregnancy.  About a third of women transitioning from perimenopause to post menopause will experience uncomfortable breasts.
  • Electric Shock Sensation – This may feel like an elastic snapping on your skin, sharp pains surging through your body or short, sharp pains in the head.  You may notice these symptoms happen on their own or right before a hot flash episode.
  • Palpitations – 1 in 4 women will experience a jittery chest or heart palpitations as part of their menopausal journey and they can occur during any stage and even continue post menopause.  
  • Thinner Mane – Hormones again are to blame for thinning and hair loss that impacts the overall volume and texture of hair, and some women may even experience Female Pattern Hair Loss – like what men go through as they age. 
  • Weight Gain and Fat Redistribution – According to women on average gain between 12 and 15 pounds between the ages of 45 and 55 when menopause occurs.  They further state that menopause is not the actual cause of weight but that it happens to occur during a stage of life when other factors will impact it like a lack of sleep, hormonal fluxes promoting fat storage and triggering unhealthy food cravings, aches and pains causing us to be less active.  Many women will also notice an increase in abdominal fat when menopause hits causing a shift in their fat distribution. The National Institute of Health says that visceral fat, (deep belly fat) increases by nearly 50% in postmenopausal women directly linking belly fat to menopause (though not actually attributing it to in increase in overall weight).
  • Increased Aches and Pains – It’s a real thing. Those aches and pains can be directly attributed to the loss of estrogen. Estrogen touches everything in our bodies including our joint and connective tissue so it makes sense that they will ache more once this important hormone diminishes. At least 40% of women experience joint related aches and pains attributed to menopause. Pain can be felt more commonly in the neck, jaw, shoulders, wrists and elbows; though other joints in the body may experience pain as well.
  • Dental Issues – Again estrogen, or the lack of it, is to blame for putting our oral health at risk.  Lower estrogen levels lead to gum sensitivity, bleeding, and increased risk of periodontal disease with more than 25% of post-menopausal women at risk of losing teeth. 
  • Memory and Cognitive Changes – Menopausal brain fog is a thing and about two-thirds of menopausal and perimenopausal women experience it, while others report problems with concentration issues. 
  • Digestive Changes – If you find yourself bloated more than usual it could very well be the symptoms of menopause. Hormonal imbalances can affect the digestive system leading to increased gas, bloating and indigestion. 
  • Anger – While it’s easy to blame unstable hormones for irritability, hot flashes, sleep interruptions, panic and anxiety can all cause feelings of anger.  Whether anger is a result of unstable moods or a feeling of helplessness from a changing body, it’s still a real thing many women experience through perimenopause and menopause.

Perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause can be some of the best years of your life.  Menopause isn’t an illness, but it can wreak havoc on your body to make you think it is one.  It is important to remember, these stages of life are only stages, so if you’re slogging your way through perimenopause and menopause you want to be careful about treating yourself well and caring for yourself in all facets of your life.  Here are some things we think you should NOT do during this time in your life along with one big DO…

What NOT to do during menopause…

  • Don’t believe that sex is over
  • Don’t mistake menopause for a mood disorder
  • Don’t believe sleep is a thing of the past
  • Don’t stop using condoms/birth control – Perimenopausal and menopausal women are more vulnerable to STD infections as vaginal tissue thins and one other surprising fact… perimenopausal women have the 2nd highest rate of unintended pregnancy after teens.
  • Don’t stress
  • Don’t stop socializing
  • Don’t ignore your nutrition
  • Don’t stop exercising
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to experts to discuss ongoing and disruptive symptoms

DO focus on your physical and mental health!  Towards that we wonder why women pursue all kinds of information on periods, PMS, sex, and pregnancy but enter this stage in our lives with little knowledge of what’s going on with their own bodies?  Do you want to learn more about this stage in your life?  We found some amazing books and podcasts to keep you informed as well as entertained:


Hit Play not Pause – for active, performance-minded women who aren’t willing to put their best years behind them.  It’s time to break the silence and get past the stigma of what you can accomplish as an active woman in your 40’s, 50’s and beyond.  Podcast on how to optimize your physiology, maintain your fitness, and harness your power!

Hello menopause! – Real menopause stories from real people! Join Let’s Talk Menopause co-founder Christine Maginnis and comedic storyteller Robin Gelfenbien as they explore the wide spectrum of perimenopause symptoms, the benefits of aging, and the misconceptions about the most mysterious non-mystery on Earth – menopause.

Black Girl’s Guide to Surviving Menopause – Black women are negotiating the different stages of menopause along with their ever-evolving identifies, relationships, careers, responsibilities, and societal tropes. This is a curated intergenerational exchange, a space for exploration, mentorship, intimacy, and vulnerability around life, identity, and change. It’s the excavation of the things that you need to know but were never told.

Effin Hormones – Four friends discussing those ten years in a woman’s life that lead up to menopause – the ‘perimenopause’.  Winner of British Podcast Awards 2022 for Best Wellbeing Podcast  AND International Women’s Podcast Awards 2022 for Comedy Gold

Women on Fire – Permenopause, Post-Menopause and everything in between

How to be 60 – There isn’t much that scares Kaye Adams.  National TV? Easy.  Live Radio phone-in show? Like falling off a log.  Approaching 60 though…….WAAAHHHHH!!! That’s terrifying!!  However, with the help of her filter-free friend Karen, some well-known guests and most importantly, YOU, she might just learn….How To Be 60.


Hot Flash Sonnets by Moira Egan – Poetry. Women’s Studies. Poet Moira Egan finally turned fifty, and her poetic journey has gotten ever sweatier and sexier. In her latest collection, HOT FLASH SONNETS, she explores the sultry joys and humorous indignities of becoming a woman of a certain age.

What Fresh Hell is This? – An informative, blisteringly funny, somewhat cranky and always spot-on guide to perimenopause and menopause by the award-winning sex ed/health educator and author of S.E.X.  Heather Corinna

The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, and Meaning of Menopause – Are the ways we look at menopause all wrong? Historian Susan Mattern says yes, and The Slow Moon Climbs reveals just how wrong we have been. Taking readers from the rainforests of Paraguay to the streets of Tokyo, Mattern draws on historical, scientific, and cultural research to reveal how our perceptions of menopause developed from prehistory to today. For most of human history, people had no word for menopause and did not view it as a medical condition. Rather, in traditional foraging and agrarian societies, it was a transition to another important life stage. This book, then, introduces new ways of understanding life beyond fertility.

Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke – Menopause hit Darcey Steinke hard. First came hot flashes. Then insomnia. Then depression. As she struggled to express what was happening to her, she came up against a culture of silence. Throughout history, the natural physical transition of menopause has been viewed as something to deny, fear, and eradicate. Menstruation signals fertility and life, and childbirth is revered as the ultimate expression of womanhood. Menopause is seen as a harbinger of death. Some books Steinke found promoted hormone replacement therapy. Others encouraged acceptance. But Steinke longed to understand menopause in a more complex, spiritual, and intellectually engaged way.

The Menopause manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism by Jen Gunter – Just as she did in her groundbreaking bestseller The Vagina Bible, Dr. Jen Gunter, the internet’s most fearless advocate for women’s health, brings you empowerment through knowledge by countering stubborn myths and misunderstandings about menopause with hard facts, real science, fascinating historical perspective, and expert advice.

So, there you have it, we’ve armed you with some in-depth info and resources to find out more on this important stage in a women’s life! Whether it’s years away for you or just beginning, right in the middle or out the other side, menopause is not something to fear because knowledge is power! We’ll see you in the next blog and don’t forget to cheer on all the important #women in your life today!

Deb Fries works with the Julianna Rae team to offer the best shopping experience for quality silk and cotton sleepwear while also writing for the blog at