You are probably familiar with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and irregular periods. But fluctuating hormone levels can cause a surprising array of symptoms that you don’t necessarily associate with menopause, including low mood, anxiety, fatigue, memory problems and joint pains.
Unfortunately, many women get misdiagnosed due to a lack of education among many doctors. There is also a lack of knowledge among women about this period and the symptoms it can cause. A survey of 5,000 women conducted by Newson Health Research and Education found that a third of women wait at least three years for their symptoms to be correctly diagnosed as menopause related, and a further 18% visited their doctor six times before they got the help they needed.
We have listed the 5 most common misdiagnoses below.
If you’re feeling low, suffering from mood swings or feeling anxious, you may find that your doctor prescribes antidepressants. Although depression can – and does – occur during the perimenopause and menopause, this is one of the most common misdiagnoses because women often visit their doctor because they’re feeling flat and tearful. Low mood is a common symptom of the menopause, but there’s no evidence that antidepressants will help ease menopause-related symptoms.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
This is a long-term illness which can leave you feeling extremely tired and rundown, and can also cause disturbed sleep problems, dizziness, aches and pains, heart palpitations and memory problems. All these symptoms can also be caused by a drop in female hormones during the menopause.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive condition that causes cramps, constipation, diarrhea, wind and bloating. It can come and go, or can last for weeks or months at a time. There’s no cure for IBS, but diet changes and medication can help. However, in some women, these digestive symptoms can be linked to low estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause.
This is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body. It can also cause extreme tiredness, difficulty sleeping, brain fog, headaches and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Again, all these symptoms can be common during the menopause.
Cystitis and thrush
If you suffer from regular bouts of cystitis and thrush, it’s important to know that this could also be caused by low levels of estrogen during the menopause. This is because lack of estrogen can thin the lining of your vagina, bladder and urethra (the tube which carries urine out of your body), meaning that you’re more vulnerable to infections and may find the tissues around the vagina become sore and itchy.
(HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) can relieve most of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms but there are also risks involved. Consult with your healthcare provider.)
(Source: The Menopausal Charity)