If you’re not properly prepared for what’s coming, the onset of menopause can be overwhelming and confusing.
Today, we’ll give you a brief overview of the most common menopause symptoms so you know what to expect during the change. We’ll also double down on why it’s crucial to use some form of symptom tracker in preparation for seeing your menopause doctor.
First thing’s first, then, what are the most frequently experienced symptoms?
Common Menopause Symptoms
As your body starts to undergo hormonal changes leading to the end of your monthly period, you can expect to experience any of the following symptoms: (1)
- Hot flashes
- Erratic periods; with regularity and intensity
- General fatigue
- Extreme mood swings
- Insomnia and other sleep issues
- Problems concentrating
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Dry skin and pimples
These symptoms start to come to the fore during perimenopause, the time period of up to 10 years leading up to menopause. (2)
These are by no means the only symptoms you can expect to encounter so use these as a solid starting point and keep close tabs on them.
Why should you even bother tracking your symptoms in the first place, though?
Why You Should Track Menopause Symptoms
The purpose of charting your menopause symptoms is so you can be knowledgeable about the best treatment options and get the very most out of your appointment with the menopause doctor. Sure, you might think you’ll remember everything but how about if you’re experiencing problems with your memory? (3)(4)
By going in to see your doctor fully equipped with a list of all recurring symptoms, she will be far better placed to accurately advise you.
It’s essential to be absolutely open and honest with your doctor so you can formulate the best plan for treatment (assuming treatment is what you want to pursue).
Beyond this, by tracking your symptoms, you can potentially detect and avoid any known triggers.
Since symptoms vary so much from person to person, making sure you have a personalized record is key - but how should you go about tracking?
How to Track Symptoms
When it comes to what method to employ as an effective symptom tracker, it’s very much a case of choosing what works best for you.
For the sake of consistency, try to record your symptoms at the same time each day. Before going to bed is a smart idea.
Rather than simply listing out the symptoms, try to also assess their severity. Choose a simple scale of 1-5 or 1-10 from mild to severe.
If you prefer the traditional method of pen and paper, get yourself a notebook rather than scraps of paper you’re likely to lose. Leave it by your bedside dresser so you won’t forget to complete it each night.
For anyone who prefers to record symptoms electronically, we’ve got a symptom tracker to make your life easy available free at the app store. Search Vergo Symptom Tracker.
If you favour manually tracking, there are plenty of resources like Early Menopause that allow you to print off a chart so you can simply tick boxes corresponding to all major physical and emotional menopause symptoms.
Whether you choose to harness technology or go old school with pen and paper, consistency is key when you’re charting your symptoms.
Once you’ve covered all the main bases with the most frequent symptoms, is there anything else you should be keeping your eye on?
Other Things You Should Be Tracking
One of the most critical areas to track should be your menstrual cycle. (6)
Focus on the month leading up to your first appointment with the menopause doctor and record any changes in your periods. How long did they last and were they heavier or lighter than normal? Concentrate on any changes to the norm. While this is to be fully expected, you can get a better idea of what treatment might be appropriate when you’re armed with the proper knowledge.
Aside from your periods, it’s worth paying attention to what you eat as well. There’s no need to compile a comprehensive food diary but take note of any foods that seem to have an adverse effect.
Many foods can impact your digestion when you’re menopausal so it’s worth being aware of anything that triggers a reaction. (7)
Linked closely to food, it’s well worth keeping a diary of your weight too. Weight gain is a common menopausal symptom so it pays to have a written record of this so you can address any concerns with your doctor more accurately.
Whether you use pen and paper or an electronic device, make the most of the advice your doctor can give you regarding menopause by arming yourself with all the information you need.
Vergo is an interactive program that gives women the tools to understand their Menopause.
- The Vergo iOS symptom tracker (emailable to your healthcare provider)
- The Vergo QuikTrak symptom tracker (the refillable pdf version, also emailable)
- Vergo’s Interactive Education Program, Journey Without a Roadmap: Understanding Menopause
- Curated guides to the biggest questions and hottest topics around menopause symptoms and treatment options
- Must-have information on male menopause: There’s an Andropause? (an overview of what your guy could be going through)
- Terminology Cheat Sheets
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