Odd Symptoms of Menopause

10 Odd Symptoms of Menopause

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Perimenopause/ Menopause Leave a Comment

When most people think about menopause symptoms, hot flashes and night sweats are usually top of the list. It’s true that up to 80% of women going through menopause experience vasomotor symptoms (like hot flashes), but there are some really odd symptoms of menopausal not often discussed. These hormonal shifts impact all systems of your body, primarily driven by low estrogen levels, and can result in itchy skin, burning tongue, and other surprising symptoms.

Menopause is the natural biological change that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years, or when you’ve gone at least a year without a period. But symptoms of menopause can start years before your period ends and can leave you wondering if some of the unusual menopause symptoms are normal.

As you approach menopause, you may experience what feels like weird symptoms of low estrogen or odd symptoms of menopause all together. 

In this article we’ll discuss rarely discussed or uncommon symptoms of menopause:

  • Itchy ears
  • Ringing in ears
  • Burning tongue
  • Electric shock sensation
  • Tingling in the fingers or toes
  • Cold flashes or chills
  • Experiencing a metallic taste
  • Thinning hair
  • Loss of fullness in breasts
  • Bloating and digestive changes

Menopause Itchy Ears

The feeling of itchy ears is one of those weird symptoms of low estrogen that we aren't really told about.

People with seasonal allergies may recognize this feeling of persistent itching deep in the ear canal. It's easy to chalk this symptom up to allergies, but it could also be a sign of menopause.

Why Does Menopause Cause Itchy Ears

Estrogen helps maintain hydration and plumpness in tissues by stimulating the production of natural oils and collagen. During menopause, as estrogen levels naturally decrease, the mucous membranes in the body can become dry, including those in the ears. Dry mucous membranes in the ear canal can lead to itching, burning, and sometimes even wax build-up.

How Do I Stop My Ears from Itching in Menopause

Most experts will tell you to avoid sticking Q-tips or other objects in your ears to scratch the itch because this can cause damage or further irritate your skin. You can try gently rubbing a natural oil like olive oil into the ear, or over-the-counter ear drops are also an option. Sleeping with a humidifier in your room can also help keep mucous membranes moist.

Tips for Itchy Ears in Menopause:

  • Try olive oil, coconut oil, or castor oil applied only to the outer ear canal
  • Topical estriol (like the vaginal cream used to relieve vaginal atrophy and dryness) placed on a Q-tip and applied to the outside of the ear canal 2-3 times per week
  • Sleep with a humidifier
  • Avoid sticking anything into the ear, especially when tempted to scratch
  • Stay hydrated

Menopause Ringing in Ears

Another odd symptom of menopause you may not recognize as a hormone related issue is constant ringing in the ears called tinnitus. Tinnitus can be annoying for some, debilitating for others and challenging to treat in some cases.

Because ringing in the ears can be due to several other causes, this is often considered one of the uncommon symptoms of menopause. More research is needed to understand just how common this symptom is in menopausal women.

Why Does Menopause Cause Ringing in Ears?

Tinnitus can start as one of the symptoms of perimenopause (the years leading up to menopausal transition) as estrogen levels begin to drop. It’s not completely clear why this happens, but it may be related to changes in circulation and estrogen’s influence on the auditory signals between the ears and your brain.

Estrogen plays a role in maintaining the health of the auditory pathways in the brain, which makes this another one of those weird symptoms of low estrogen that most of us don't expect.

How Do I Stop My Ringing Ears in Menopause?

Some research suggests that menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), also known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is linked to a lower risk of tinnitus. This would mean beginning MHT when indicated for women in perimenopause and continuing it into menopause.

HRT can benefit some, but it’s not for everyone, so it’s essential to have a conversation with your healthcare practitioner to weigh the risks and benefits.

Natural approaches to helping tinnitus can also make a difference, as exercise can reduce stress levels that could contribute to tinnitus. Diet can also support the foundation for healthy hormone levels by ensuring your body gets all the necessary nutrients.

If tinnitus is severe enough to impact sleep or cause anxiety, you may consider ways to support your nervous system and reduce stress, such as meditation or talking with a therapist. White noise machines may also help to drown out the ringing sound and promote better sleep. Some research suggests that a higher intake of vitamin B12 is associated with a reduced risk of tinnitus.

Tips for Ringing Ears in Menopause:

  • Meditation and mindfulness. These have been shown to help those struggling with tinnitus and significantly reduce stress.
  • Yoga. In a small study, participants who practiced yoga, along with deep breathing resulted in reduced ear ringing after 12 weeks.
  • Magnesium. While the research isn't conclusive on magnesium, many people report magnesium helps their tinnitus. We do understand that daily intake of 550 mg of magnesium is associated with a younger brain, which may explain how magnesium might benefit the nervous system.
  • Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT). Beginning estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy in perimenopause may help with preventing ringing in the ears from developing in menopause. Maintaining the levels of estrogen to support brain health may prove to be an effective strategy in the future.
  • Nutrient Dense Diet. In addition to eating foods rich in magnesium, vitamin B12 and other nutrients may also be helpful in supporting those with tinnitus. You can download a free hormone recipe guide here to help you optimize your nutrition. 

Menopause and Burning Tongue

Burning tongue, also known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS), manifests as a sensation of burning, tingling, or tenderness in the mouth, unaccompanied by other signs of irritation. Although an uncommon symptom of menopause, it is more prevalent in older women. The sensation may persist or come and go, predominantly affecting the front to the tip of the tongue.

Can Hormonal Imbalance Cause Burning Tongue?

The root cause of burning tongue isn’t well understood, but there is a link to a drop in estrogen levels, making hormone imbalance a potential contributing factor. The decline in estrogen during menopause can lead to changes in the oral mucosa and decrease salivary flow, leading to a dry mouth and burning tongue.

How Do You Relieve Burning Tongue Syndrome?

The management of burning tongue syndrome typically entails addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance. In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to address the lack of estrogen.

It's worth noting that while estrogen receptors are present in the tongue for some women, this treatment approach may not work for everyone.

Medical support may include benzodiazepine or antidepressants that could help reduce pain.

Women should also avoid acidic foods and drinks, as well as tobacco and alcohol, which can irritate the mouth lining further.

Capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, has been shown to provide relief for some individuals when applied topically. But for others, spicy food may make symptoms worse.

Other remedies, such as supplementing with alpha lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant, and vitamin B complex, may also aid in symptom management.

Tips for Burning Tongue Syndrome in Menopause:

  • Avoid eating or drinking acid or spicy foods. 
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco. 
  • Applying topical capsaicin may offer relief and in some cases, spicy food may be helpful for this reason. Use caution with spicy foods as it does make some people's symptoms worse.
  • Vitamin B complex and alpha lipoic acid supplements may be helpful. 
  • Hormone replacement therapy to fill in when the production of estrogen declines may offer relief.

Menopause and Electric Shock Sensation

Women often describe electric shock sensations as zaps or jolts of electricity passing through their bodies, especially right before the start of a hot flash. Estrogen works closely with your nervous system, and when levels are low, it can cause misfiring of nerve signals. This miscommunication may lead to electric shock sensations.

Some women report the electric shock experience during perimenopause and report it persists into menopause.

Like many of these other symptoms, electric shock sensations aren’t life-threatening, but the discomfort they cause can make you feel anxious or worried.

Are Electric Shocks Normal in Menopause?

Estrogen works closely with your nervous system, so low levels may cause misfiring of nerve signals causing electric shock sensations. It's worth noting that other medical conditions like vitamin B12 deficiency, type 2 diabetes, or multiple sclerosis may also cause electric shock sensations, so please see your doctor to rule out these more serious causes.

How Do You Stop Electric Shock Sensations?

Once you’ve ruled out other reasons for your electric shock sensations, you can start managing them with lifestyle changes and supportive supplements.

One approach is to lower stress and support the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the production of cortisol and other stress hormones. These stress hormones have a direct effect on nervous system health. This can be done through mind-body practices like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, optimize blood sugar balance through diet, and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol.

Magnesium is an essential nutrient involved in nerve and muscle function and supports relaxation. You can take magnesium supplements, eat foods high in magnesium like dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, or try topical magnesium oil to soothe nerve discomfort.

Tips for Electric Shock Sensations in Menopause:

Menopause Tingling Extremities

Tingling extremities are similar to electric shocks, except they feel more like when your foot falls asleep or when you hit your funny bone. Also called paresthesia, you may feel tingling or numbness in your arms, hands, legs, or feet. It’s not usually painful, just annoying, but if severe enough, it could interfere with daily activities, especially if your hands are affected.

Why Do You Feel Tingly During Menopause

Surprise! Estrogen is again to blame. Since estrogen is connected to the nervous system, low levels can cause nerve endings to become hypersensitive. The decrease in estrogen can also affect circulation, which means less blood flow to your extremities.

This is yet another odd symptom of menopause that may be helped with menopause hormone therapy.

Other Causes of Tingling Sensations

Other causes of tingling sensations include medical conditions that need treatment, so it’s important to rule out these more serious causes. Some common conditions that can cause tingling extremities include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Nerve damage or compression

How Do You Treat Tingling During Menopause

Once you’ve ruled out other medical reasons, treating tingling during menopause may involve lifestyle changes to reduce stress and support hormonal balance. A hormone-balancing diet with plenty of healthy fat and protein to support hormone production can be helpful.

Building a nutrient-dense diet is essential for managing hormones during menopause, which is why I've put together a free recipe guide to help you get started.

Movement to improve circulation can also help, whether it’s yoga, walking, swimming, or whatever you enjoy. Other lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and staying hydrated can also help. Some research suggests acupuncture may support healthy estrogen levels, which could ease tingling sensations.

Tips for Tingling Sensations in Menopause:

  • Rule out other medical conditions
  • Eat a nutrient dense diet
  • Try cinnamon with meals to support healthy blood sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar before meals may also support healthy insulin and glucose (blood sugar levels) 
  • Focus on quality sleep and reducing stress
  • Consider acupuncture 

Cold Flashes with Menopause

Hot flashes may be the more well-known and talked about symptom of menopause, but cold flashes can be just as uncomfortable. They are sudden sensations of coldness accompanied by shivering or chills.

What Causes Cold Chills in Menopause?

There isn’t much research on cold chills (especially compared to hot flashes), but hormone dysregulation, especially the drop in estrogen, is likely responsible. Hormones influence the thermostat in your brain, and it becomes extra sensitive or dysregulated during menopause.

How Do You Stop Menopause Chills

Like hot flashes, avoiding triggers that make your chills worse is essential. Hormone support through diet, exercise, and stress reduction is critical. Other things to consider include:

  • Dressing in layers so you can easily add and remove clothing as chills come and go.
  • Using a heating pad or hot water bottle to warm up.
  • Taking warm baths or showers.

Some women have extra blankets at the end of the bed to put on when a cold flash strikes. There are certain medications your physician may offer to support you if symptoms are severe that act by influencing neurotransmitters in the brain to reduce symptoms.

What Else Causes Cold Chills?

Cold chills can also be a sign of infection or illness, so it’s important to rule these out before assuming they are solely related to menopause. Anemia and thyroid imbalances can also cause cold chills.

Metallic Taste

Perhaps one of the most odd symptoms of menopause is experiencing a metallic taste in the mouth. This can vary from a subtle metallic sensation to a severe and persistent one, making eating challenging or diminishing your interest in foods you once enjoyed.

I've had some patients describe it as feeling like they had been sucking on a penny. 

Can Menopause Cause a Strange Taste in the Mouth?

Think of estrogen as a moisturizer for your entire body, including your mucous membranes and saliva production in your mouth. When your mouth becomes excessively dry, it can temporarily affect your taste buds, causing a metallic taste. Dry mouth can also increase the risk of oral health issues such as gum disease and tooth decay.

How Do You Get Rid of Metallic Taste in Your Mouth During Menopause?

One of the most important things you can do to alleviate a metallic taste in your mouth during menopause is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help keep your saliva production up and prevent dry mouth.

Chewing gum, adding spices, or using natural mouthwashes can also help stimulate saliva production and reduce the metallic taste. Maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, also helps prevent oral health issues that may exacerbate the metallic taste.

Tips for Metallic Taste in Menopause:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Chew gum
  • Add spices or lemon to dishes to stimulate saliva production
  • Maintain regular dental appointments
  • Consider natural mouthwashes and toothpastes

Thinning Hair in Menopause

We may think of age and hair loss as inevitable, but menopause can also play a role in thinning hair. Thinning hair may mean you find extra strands in the shower drain or more of the scalp peeks through your hair. It may be subtle or more noticeable, but it can be a significant source of anxiety for women experiencing it.

Why Does Hair Thin in Menopause?

Decreasing estrogen and progesterone levels as we age contributes to hair thinning. Similar to how our skin changes over time, our hair follicles also change and shrink in size. During menopause, the balance of male hormones (androgens) also shifts, leading to hair loss or unwanted hair growth, particularly on the face.

How to Stop Hair Loss in Menopause

I've written a comprehensive article on menopause hair loss that I encourage you to explore if this is your issue. In addition, anemia, thyroid disorders, and other medical issues can also lead to hair loss, which is why meeting with a provider to understand the root cause of your hair loss is important.

There are medications, both topical and oral, that are used to support hair growth. A nutrient-dense diet is also essential because vitamin deficiencies, or even low levels, can contribute to hair loss. Also, being gentle with your hair, especially when wet and more vulnerable to damage, is also a good call. This may mean more air drying instead of using heat tools, limiting chemical treatments, and using a gentle brush.

Tips for Hair Loss in Menopause:

Loss of Fullness in Breasts

Most accept that breasts change shape and fullness with age, but sometimes, the changes can come as a surprise. Breasts may appear less full, losing shape or volume.

How menopause affects your breasts

In addition to plumping and moisturizing skin, estrogen is also responsible for breast fullness. During menopause, when estrogen levels decrease, breasts may lose volume and look deflated. Collagen and elastin — the building blocks of skin that keep it firm and elastic — begin to break down during this time, causing breasts to sag. Aside from loss of fullness, fluctuating hormones can also cause breast pain or tenderness.

What Can You Do to Support Breast Health

You can’t necessarily change the aging process, but you can take steps to support your breast health and the appearance of your breasts.

Tips for Hair Loss of Breast Fullness:

  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in nutrients.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Support your skin's elasticity using a vitamin C or collagen moisturizer.
  • Perform regular breast self-exams and get a mammogram as recommended by your doctor.

Bloating and Digestion Changes

Bloating feels like your abdomen is swollen. Your pants may feel a little tight, or you might even feel a little pain. And maybe you’ve never had any digestion issues, but suddenly you feel constipated, gassy, or just “off.”

Why Does Menopause Cause Extreme Bloating

Various factors can cause bloating. Our digestion may become less efficient as we age, partly due to the intricate relationship between hormones and the gut microbiome – the bacteria in our digestive tract. Research indicates that bloating symptoms may intensify or worsen after menopause.

How to Get Relief from Menopause Bloating

Gut health is complex, so there isn’t a straightforward solution to reducing bloating. At a minimum, regular exercise can support digestion to help keep the bowels moving and prevent constipation. Other lifestyle measures may help include staying hydrated, reducing stress levels, and avoiding processed or fried foods, and sugary drinks.

Fermented foods like yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut support the gut microbiome by providing probiotics to support healthy bacteria or probiotic supplements may also help. Ginger or peppermint are also effective natural remedies to soothe bloating.

Tips for Gas and Bloating in Menopause:

  • Eat fermented foods, like miso, sauerkraut, and beet kvass
  • Take a women's probiotic formulated specifically for gut and vaginal health
  • Eat 25 grams of fiber daily
  • Eliminate or reduce alcohol, use of NSAIDS, and unnecessary antibiotic use

Other Causes of Digestive Changes

Extreme bloating can also be a sign of another medical condition, such as:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Celiac disease

When to Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) is the use of hormones to treat symptoms of menopause, as estrogen-only or with a synthetic progesterone called progestin. HRT may be worth considering if symptoms significantly impact your quality of life.

The North American Menopause Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and The Endocrine Society agree that most women can choose to use hormone therapy for relief of specific menopause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, but it's unclear whether it will help with some of these uncommon menopause symptoms.

Even though HRT is recognized as much safer than previous research suggested, it does have potential risks. As a result, each woman should carefully weigh the benefits and risks along with her healthcare provider.

Menopause Symptoms Wrapped Up

Anytime your body starts to act or feel differently, it is important to seek medical advice. Menopause symptoms can be challenging, but they don’t have to rule your life. Recognizing the signs and understanding the causes can help you take action so you can enjoy your life during menopause and beyond.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.