From hot flushes and night sweats to weight gain and mood swings, we all know – or think we know – the challenges menopause can bring.
But there are some that don’t get talked about quite as much. Like those niggly little aches and pains you’ve probably put down to ageing or overdoing it at the gym. Could your hormones be to blame?
Here (finally) are the answers to all your questions about menopause pain...
Breast pain in menopause
The breast pain menopause sometimes brings with it happens when hormonal fluctuations cause fluid to build up in the breasts, making them swollen, tender and painful.
It’s the same thing women with PMS experience in the lead up to their period, but it can become more marked in peri-menopause because your hormonal shifts become more dramatic. Your breasts may also change in size or shape around this time.
You shouldn’t experience breast pain after you’ve stopped having periods completely, but it sometimes continues in women who take HRT.
Menopause joint pain
So what’s the link between menopause and joint pain? In a word: oestrogen. This hormone is important for joint health because it minimises inflammation and swelling and improves hydration. But at menopause, your ovaries stop producing it. Cue joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, creaking and loss of range of movement.
Menopause leg pain is a common complaint because joints like the hips and knees experience high impact. But menopause joint pain (sometimes called menopausal arthritis) can affect any joint in the body, including the fingers and toes. Joint pain and stiffness can also cause your posture to change. This can pull on your muscles and exacerbate menopause hip pain, as well as back and shoulder pain.
Menopause back pain
Women are more likely to experience lower back pain around the time of the menopause. Researchers think this is because we need oestrogen to keep our spinal discs healthy. When our oestrogen levels drop, the discs in our lumbar spine can start to degenerate. However, HRT can help to stop this damage progressing.
Menopause muscle pain
Muscle aches and pains are common around menopause. Why? Well, magnesium is crucial for muscle function, and oestrogen is important for efficient magnesium uptake and utilisation. When oestrogen levels drop, muscle pain, cramps and fatigue can set in. Magnesium supplements may also help with other menopause symptoms, like hot flushes.
Menopause stomach pain
Some women still experience something that feels a lot like period pain after menopause. So what causes menopause period pain? Cramp-like pains usually just mean you haven’t fully reached menopause – your womb is still building up some lining and you’ll probably have another period at some point in the future.
But if you feel a dull or sharp pelvic pain, it could be caused by an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts are usually harmless, but become more common after menopause. The ovary pain menopause sometimes brings with it may be accompanied by pain during sex, bloating, needing to urinate frequently or having trouble emptying your bowels, but you’ll usually only experience symptoms if a cyst ruptures or grows particularly large.
While they’re rare, you’re also more likely to get ovarian and uterine cancer after the menopause, which can cause similar symptoms, including chronic pain, bloating, pain during sex and a frequent and urgent need to urinate, as well as unexpected weight loss and vaginal bleeding.
Uterine polyps also become more common after menopause. Polyps are growths in the lining of the uterus. They range from the size of a sesame seed to the size of a golf ball. They’re usually harmless, but can cause vaginal bleeding, even after menopause.
You might also experience more digestive issues around the time of the menopause. This is because oestrogen helps to control our cortisol levels. When our oestrogen levels decrease, our cortisol levels increase, which can cause digestive problems including indigestion, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.
The trick used by I'm a Celebrity campmates to have secret conversations
The campmates in I'm a Celebrity developed a secret way to communicate so that producers can't air what they are saying to each other
By Laura Harman •
I can't believe La Mer Black Friday is a thing—snare a £195 skincare gift before they change their minds
La Mer Black Friday skincare deal is shockingly generous says our Beauty Ed—if you were ever going to invest, now's the time
By Fiona McKim •
Menopause needs an image rebrand—let’s celebrate rather than fear it
A convincing argument on why menopause can be a positive stage of a woman's life
By Michelle Hather •
Menopause support groups—how to find the right community for you
Menopause support groups are a fantastic resource for people experiencing the hormonal change
By Amy Hunt •
The health benefits of protein powder for women over 50, according to a nutrionist
They can be particularly beneficial if you are menopausal
By Lucy Gornall •
Peri, post, or just plain meno - here’s the lowdown on your stage of the ‘pause’
These are the three stages of menopause - do you know what they are?
By Grace Walsh •
What causes night sweats for women - as well as the menopause?
We're all used to perspiring a little more in the warm weather, or getting drenched in sweat during a workout - but what about night sweats?
By Amy Hunt •
Menopause magnets: what are they and do they really help ease menopause symptoms?
Menopause Magnets are said to ease menopause symptoms - in particular, hot flushes. But do they work? We investigate the evidence...
By Lauren Hughes •
Menopause weight gain: why it happens and what you can do about it
What actually causes menopausal weight gain?
By Lauren Hughes •
Think you’re at the Menopause age? Join Davina McCall as she reveals what drove her to seek help
Hot flushes, night sweats and difficulty sleeping - if these symptoms are getting you down it could be a chance that you’re going through the change...
By Selina Maycock •