3 lesser-known perimenopause and menopause symptoms

Eileen Durward
Ask Eileen

16 October 2023

1. Itchy Scalp

An itchy scalp can be caused by falling oestrogen levels. We know that low oestrogen affects the skin, making it thinner and more sensitive. Therefore, anything you use on your hair and scalp, such as shampoo, conditioners, hair dyes, and other treatments, can really irritate and affect it.

If you think about it, you're washing your hair, you're putting conditioner on, you're maybe putting hair spray on, and some of these things are being left on your scalp and your hair for a good couple of days before you wash them again. So, it's no wonder your scalp is being affected, especially if you’re using conventional shampoos and other products because they're absolutely full of chemicals and they can irritate and make the scalp really, really itchy.

It can also be due to stress. We know how stressed we all tend to get in this day and age, never mind all the extra stress that the hormones are putting upon us. So again, stress creates acidic chemicals. These chemicals can irritate the skin. You can get big hits of histamine again, which is going to cause a lot of itching and discomfort.

So, what to do here?

First of all, look at your shampoos, your conditioners, and all the other things you may be putting on your hair and scalp, and try and go as natural as you can. And it can make a real difference. I can't remember the last time I used conventional shampoo. I try and go for organic or really natural ones. And they're just so much kinder to your hair anyway.

You can go for natural dyes. There are quite a few companies that do really nice ones now. You could try our Neem Shampoo. We recommend this for soothing the scalp.

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Remember to drink plenty of water because dehydration will affect the skin. And maybe if you're stressed and anxious, and especially if you're getting itchy skin elsewhere, then a couple of cups of nettle tea a day could be helpful because it's a really nice, natural antihistamine.

2. Muscle aches and pains

With this symptom, a lot of people tell me that they wake up in the morning and they feel as if they've run a marathon the day before. Their muscles are so sore, they're so stiff, and it can take a while to get moving.

Sometimes, it may just be that you're sitting at your desk or watching the TV for a little while, and when you get up, everything is just really, really stiff. So, this is really an important one to be aware of.

There is something that we are more prone to as we go through perimenopause and menopause and that's called Sarcopenia. What that means basically is that your muscle mass starts to shrink. That in itself, as your muscle is being broken down and not built up again, can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

The problem with issues such as sarcopenia is that as your muscles lose mass and strength, your joints are less supported, so you may be more likely to end up with arthritis, especially in the big joints like the hips, and the knees, and possibly the shoulders as well.

You also need plenty of muscle mass in order to burn calories. So, if your muscle mass decreases, you are going to burn fewer calories, which may then mean that you put weight on maybe slowly, but over a year or two, you might find that your weight is starting to creep up.

And the less muscle mass you have, the more unfit you become, and it could cause lots of problems later on.

Low magnesium and dehydration can also cause aches and pains, especially if you're getting symptoms first thing in the morning. It could just be because you got dehydrated during the night, especially if you're getting night sweats as well.

It could be a lack of protein. Now, our protein needs go really high in perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Very often, we tend to eat less of it as we get older, so it's really important to keep your protein intake up. If you are not too keen on meat and you just think, "I can't eat any more meat and fish in my diet," or if you're vegetarian, if you're vegan, then all you need to do is go with what's called a plant-based protein powder. You just make that into a drink, have that once a day, and that's a really good portion of protein that can help keep your muscles nice and stable.

Drink plenty of water to ease any dehydration, increase your magnesium intake to help reduce muscle pain and discomfort, and exercise is so important too.

The older you get, as you go through perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause, the more regular exercise you need to do just to keep your muscle mass stable.

It doesn't have to be intense exercise. I wouldn't fancy going to the gym for an hour, four or five days a week, but just regular exercise, such as walking, even a brisk 15-to-30-minute walk once a day, can be helpful.

Dancing is a fabulous exercise, and it's great for all the leg muscles. Yoga can be a really good one. Things like Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Any of these exercises where you're holding muscle posture or you're using your muscles aerobically will help to keep your muscles really nice and strong.

This is an important one to be aware of because once you lose muscle mass, it's going to be so much harder to try and build it up again.

3. Urine colour and smell change

This is another one I've been getting asked a lot about recently. Now, this can be common at any time. It could happen when you're on holiday. It's really hot. You maybe haven't drunk enough, so your urine colour and smell can change really, really quickly. But we know that in perimenopause and menopause, hormonal changes can play a big part in the colour and smell of urine too.

Also, you tend to be more susceptible to this problem, especially because dehydration can be such a big issue here too. That’s going to make your urine more concentrated, so it's going to smell stronger and it's going to be a much darker colour.

But there are other things that can do it. Some hormonal medications may be a factor, so you need to look at any kind of hormonal medication that you're on. It could be another medication. If your urine has changed after you've started a new medication from the doctor, it could be that, so maybe just check the side effects of that particular medication.

It can be specific supplements. If you're taking a multivitamin that has B vitamins in it or you're taking a vitamin B complex, this can affect the colour of your urine. It can be quite frightening the first time you take it because some of the B vitamins can turn your urine a kind of fluorescent yellow or green colour, which can be quite a shock the first time it happens, so be aware that it could just be your supplements as well.

There are also some foods that can make your urine smell really strong, that's things like asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke. So, if the change of smell is just happening occasionally, then maybe just look at what you were eating beforehand because it may have more to do with that rather than anything else.

So again, loads of water, and this will work really, really quickly at diluting your urine. The only thing with this one is if you are getting a lot of discomfort when you're passing urine, it could be something like cystitis, and especially if you're getting blood in your urine, then please do get this one checked out by your doctor or pharmacist.

I hope you found this one helpful. If you have experienced any of these symptoms and have found a solution, or if you have any other symptoms you're not certain about, let me know. I may include them in a future blog. This little session with strange symptoms will come up quite regularly because we get to hear all sorts of strange and wonderful things.

Until next time, take care and have a wonderful week.

You may also find these topics helpful:

Other menopausal hair issues that might surprise you

Does menopause affect your muscles?

6 vaginal and urinary symptoms of menopause

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Neem Shampoo


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Soothing for dry irritated scalps. Can be used by all the family. Won't interfere with dyes.
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