MenopauseMenopause Signs & Symptoms

Let's Talk About the Signs and Symptoms of Menopause

Have you entered the big M yet? Or feel like you’re heading down that hormonal highway? Read on to find out exactly how to spot the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

    Our Pro PanelMenopause Signs and Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation’s top menopause experts to bring you the most up-to-date information possible. Look who's got your back:

    Diana Bitner, M.D.

    Diana Bitner, M.D.OB/GYN and author of  "I Want to Age Like That! Healthy Aging Through Midlife and Menopause"

    Monica Christmas, M.D.

    Monica Christmas, M.D.Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the Menopause Program

    UChicago Medicine
    Juliana (Jewel) Kling, M.D.

    Juliana Kling, M.D.Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Chair of Research in the Division of Women’s Health

    Mayo Clinic

    Frequently Asked QuestionsMenopause Signs and Symptoms

    Does menopause cause memory loss? I keep hearing about "brain fog."

    About two-thirds of women going through perimenopause and menopause have a harder time remembering things and focusing (the definition of brain fog).

    Why do I have less hair on my head, but more on my face? Is hair loss a normal symptom of menopause?

    The female hormones estrogen and progesterone contribute to hair growth and keep the hair follicles on your head from falling out, which is why women tend to have less dramatic hair loss than men and more subtle thinning over time. But as these hormones decline in perimenopause and menopause, androgens—typically male hormones—swoop in, leading to fewer hairs on your head but more pesky sprigs on your chin and upper lip.

    Is there a test for menopause?

    Doctors can run tests to check hormone levels to confirm perimenopause (for women concerned about how it may be affecting fertility or what course of fertility treatment they choose) or menopause, but these tests are not specifically for this purpose or considered an official "menopause test." A doctor would be more likely to run tests for other health conditions or diseases that could be causing period cessation or irregular bleeding, because that could require urgent treatment. For example, a test of thyroid hormone levels would rule that out as a reason for periods stopping, while ovarian cancer can cause bleeding after menopause.

    How long does menopause last?

    On average, women experience menopausal symptoms for a total of four to eight years, including a few years in perimenopause and a few years after menopause. (If this sounds terrifying, stay calm: For many years these symptoms can be subtle.) However, the length of time women have signs and symptoms varies greatly, and can last up to ten years, beginning with premenopause symptoms, which can overlap with menopause symptoms, and continuing after. Remember, perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms are just as likely to be mild as severe, and 4-8 years of typical symptoms can often mean that subtle versions of these symptoms are dispersed and popping up sporadically to remind you that your body is slowly transitioning over that long period of time, not necessarily plaguing you daily or even requiring any medical treatment at all.

    Sara Faye Green

    Sara Faye Green


    Sara Faye Green is a writer who has contributed to Women’s Health, Vice, Guernica, The Rumpus, HuffPo, and elsewhere.