Unusual menopause symptoms you might not know about

Photo credit: jeffbergen - Getty Images
Photo credit: jeffbergen - Getty Images

Hot flushes, brain fog, low mood, vaginal dryness – lots of us are aware of the most common side effects of midlife hormonal changes, but what about the more unusual menopause symptoms?

Joey Remenyi, vestibular audiologist and neuroplasticity therapist at Seeking Balance, says there's three lesser-known side effects in particular to be aware of, and lots of women don't realise they can be down to menopause so they are often considered invisible symptoms.

What are the unusual symptoms of menopause?

"Tinnitus, vertigo and dizziness symptoms occur when the brain gets neural messages mixed up," she explains. "This happens more frequently when we are tired or hormonal as our baseline neural messages are strained.

"When menopausal or pregnant, our hormones can lead to increased incidence of tinnitus, vertigo and dizziness. On top of this, unless we are in tune with our body’s needs and daily lifestyle choices, chances are we are fatigued and exhausted by the regular pace of life."

How to manage the unusual symptoms of menopause?

"Slow down and pause," Remenyi explains. "Get medical clearance if you are worried about your menopause symptoms. Tune in and ask your body what it needs to nurture and restore its balance during these hormonal changes. You may receive an inner ear specific diagnosis as many vestibular or tinnitus conditions can arise during times of hormonal change.

"For example, you may be diagnosed with vestibular migraine, persistent perceptual postural dizziness (PPPD), or Meniere's, however it is important to remember that these conditions can come and go. Diagnosis is not straightforward and many women who experience tinnitus, vertigo and dizziness never receive any diagnosis at all.

"With or without a diagnosis, I encourage you to remain hopeful for a full recovery and hold any diagnosis you receive lightly. In other words, rather than over-identify with a possible or proposed diagnosis, look at yourself as a whole person and trust that these menopausal or hormonal symptoms are a part of your changing body, these sound and movement sensations are passing through you with an important message for you to hear and feel."

Remenyi says she advises her clients to remind themselves that menopause is part of an inevitable and normal change that we should lean into rather than be fearful of. Pausing and listening to what your body needs can make all the difference. She suggests trying a simple body scan meditation to practice curiosity and non-judgment toward these new tinnitus, vertigo and dizziness sensations that have been heightened during menopause.

How to do a body scan meditation

"Connect to your sensing and feeling body more deeply by noticing what you feel inside your body and inner world. To do this, start by finding a comfortable position and allowing your mind to focus on your sensation of touch. What furniture or clothing are you touching with your skin? Notice your body the artistic contours of your body in this moment as you sit, lit or stand; be curious about your present sensations here and now without any agenda or judgment.

"Let yourself be in your body and simply notice how this feels to embody your body in this moment. Start to notice how you relate to yourself, how you talk with yourself in your inner dialogue and how you feel about your sensory body. Notice if you are rejecting what you hear or feel, resulting in exacerbation of neural pulses and hormonal messages that further feelings of anxiety. Try taking a different approach that instead allows you to stimulate your feel-good neural pathways and hormonal messages such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.

"As an experiment, try noticing what you feel with a 'no big deal' attitude and speak with your body as though you truly are its best friend. Rather than try to get rid of your 'symptoms', can you open up and give your changing body sounds and sensations your full attention with loving kindness? Can you seek to support and understand them instead of pushing them away or searching for a cure? With repetition and time, this new approach can strengthen your neural pathways that feel normal again, old symptom pathways can weaken as new neural pathways form inside of your ever-changing body.

"For neuroplasticity to take effect, we need to focus on the sensations that we want to feel and give these new sensations (such as feeling steady, at peace or content) our fullest attention. By focusing on symptoms, or sensation that we judge as abnormal, we incidentally exacerbate them and teach the brain to strengthen those VTD neural networks making them more intense and leading to further associated unpleasant hormonal release. Becoming overwhelmed by, and intensely focused on, symptoms can become a maladaptive cycle that feels like a life-sentence without a cure rather than a passing change we can support to reverse."

For help and advice with menopause symptoms, speak to your GP.

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