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8 Severe symptoms of menopause: what are the worst symptoms?

8 Severe symptoms of menopause: what are the worst symptoms?

Research by DR.VEGAN® on more than 32 symptoms of menopause has uncovered the worst physical symptoms and the most debilitating mental symptoms of menopause, including joint pain, weight gain, insomnia, exhaustion, social anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness, and loneliness.

The research of 1,526 women going through menopause also reveals:

  • 10 symptoms of menopause were experienced by more than 50% of women.
  • 8 most severe symptoms of menopause, from exhaustion and social anxiety to feeling inadequate sexually and loneliness.
  • 17 most common physical symptoms of menopause, from hot flushes, joint aches and weight gain to hair loss, dry eyes, heart palpitations and tinnitus.
  • 91% of women going through menopause will experience changes in gut health, including bloating, constipation, IBS and acid reflux.

Here we reveal the results of the DR.VEGAN® research, the most severe symptoms of menopause, the most common symptoms of menopause, and the worst physical symptoms. You can also listen to real women discussing symptoms of menopause in highlights of Menopause Roundtable, hosted by Sarah Parish. 

The 10 most common symptoms of menopause

The research by DR.VEGAN® of 1,526 women shows there are 10 symptoms of menopause that are experienced by more than 50% of women during peri-menopause and menopause, with brain fog the most common symptom, closely followed by anxiety, mood swings and fatigue. Here are the 10 most common symptoms and how many women are affected by them:

10 most common symptoms of menopause

Proportion affected
1 Brain fog 82%
2 Anxiety or mood swings 80%
3 Fatigue 79%
4 Hot flushes or night sweats 75%
5 Poor sleep or insomnia 74%
6 Joint aches or pain 70%
7 Weight gain 69%
8 Bloating 66%
9 Low libido 63%
10 Low self-esteem 57%

The research also revealed that the award-winning MenoFriend® is effective for 89% of women who take it for 60 days or more in relieving menopause symptoms. More than half of women who take MenoFriend® claim it to be ‘very effective’. MenoFriend® naturally regulates hormones through its unique plant-based formula including phytoestrogens, botanicals, vitamins and minerals. Learn more about how MenoFriend® works and what to expect.

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The 8 worst symptoms of menopause

The research highlighted that while the individual symptoms of menopause themselves can be debilitating, because women will on average experience at least 10 symptoms of menopause, a combination of symptoms can have a debilitating and severe impact. The worst symptoms of menopause that women say they experience are:

  1. Exhaustion
  2. Social anxiety
  3. Mild depression
  4. Feelings of worthlessness or being invisible
  5. Persistent anxiety
  6. Not wanting to work
  7. Feeling inadequate sexually
  8. Loneliness

While these are the most common ‘worst symptoms of menopause’, alarmingly, 6% of women said they had feelings of suicide during their lowest moments, and 8% had ‘severe depression’ during menopause. If you’re experiencing any of these feelings, help is available and it's important to book an appointment with your GP or a healthcare professional. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the team at DR.VEGAN®. The research also highlighted the strain menopause can have on relationships – 14% of women felt they wanted separation or divorce during menopause.

What are the physical symptoms of menopause?

The mental health effects of menopause can often be invisible and the most debilitating, affecting self-esteem, confidence, and relationships at home and work. The physical affects of menopause can be just as debilitating and here are the 17 most common physical symptoms of menopause that affect more than 2 in 10 women:
17 most common physical symptoms of menopause Proportion affected
1 Hot flushes or night sweats 75%
2 Joint pain 70%
3 Weight gain 69%
4 Bloating 60%
5 Dry eyes or mouth 43%
6 Heart palpitations 42%
7 Vaginal dryness (vaginal atrophy)  40%
8 Hair loss or thinning 39%
9 Frequent headaches or migraines 35%
10 Restless legs 35%
11 Mild or severe IBS 35%
12  Cold flushes or shivers 27%
13 Changes in body odour 27%
14  Formication (itchy skin)  23%
15  Tinnitus 23%
16 Changing spatial awareness 21%
17 Electric shocks 19%

    Joint pain and menopause

    70% of women going through menopause will experience joint pain. Joint pain and other symptoms of menopause are caused by a decline in levels of oestrogen, progesterone and the changing balance of testosterone, which is an important hormone for women, particularly during menopause. Oestrogen naturally protects joints and reduces inflammation, so when oestrogen levels fall, the risk of inflammation increases, as does the risk of conditions including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. This is one reason why menopause experts, including Kate Rowe-Ham, the best-selling menopause author, say taking regular exercise is so important during menopause.

    DR.VEGAN® Curcumin & Turmeric is unique, high potency formula commonly taken alongside MenoFriend® because it is so effective at supporting joint health, relieving joint aches, and supporting healthier digestion. Learn more about how DR.VEGAN® Curcumin & Turmeric works.

    Hair loss and menopause

    Menopause plays havoc with skin and hair - this is due to the drop in oestrogen which causes a decline in the body's production of collagen. Collagen is not only vital for our skin, it is also essential for healthy blood vessels carrying nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles for healthy hair. As a result, a decline in collagen during menopause can lead to hair thinning, weakness and brittle hair. Learn more in 'The truth about collagen'. 

    If you're experiencing hair loss or thinning, we recommend Hair Saviour®, developed by practitioners, a nutrient-rich formula with clinically proven ingredients, including AnaGain, to fuel healthy hair growth and strong, smooth, lustrous hair.  

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    Why have I gained weight during menopause?

    Weight gain and bloating during menopause are caused by many factors, which are all related to fluctuating hormones and the health of your gut microbiome, which itself is affected by declining oestrogen. Research shows there are 8 common gut health changes during menopause, which can contribute to weight gain. Studies also show that the amount of fat that can be stored in the body’s cells increases as the levels of oestrogen decrease. Learn more about 'The gut-hormone connection'.

    Gut health changes and menopause

    Hormone health and menopause expert Dr. Katie Hodgkinson has explained how hormone changes during menopause affect gut health, and how changes in gut health affect the balance of hormones. In addition, research by DR.VEGAN® shows the most common gut health changes during menopause are bloating, excessive wind and gas, constipation, acid reflux, and diarrhoea

    Is itchy skin a common symptom of menopause?

    Yes, it absolutely is! Also known as ‘formication’, itchy skin, or the feeling of insects crawling on your skin, affects more than 20% of women through menopause. 'Menopause bladder' and urinary symptoms are also common. Research shows 40% of women suffer from vaginal atrophy through menopause, while more than 20% experience a change in the smell or colour of their urine and stools, 16% experience an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs), and 10% will suffer from vaginal infections. Learn more in 'What is Bacterial Vaginosis' and 'What colour should urine be'. 

    If you are experiencing UTIs, vaginal dryness, or vaginal infections, we recommend pH Hero®, a uniquely comprehensive formula of live cultures (probiotics), botanicals, vitamins and minerals to rebalance the vaginal microbiome, combat dryness and protect against harmful bacteria and UTIs.

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    PMS, periods and more

    As you would expect, period changes and PMS symptoms are among the early signs of menopause. 'Period poo' is a thing and can also be experienced during perimenopause - learn more in 'What is period poo'. Other less common symptoms, but which still affect more than 1 in 10 women going through menopause and can have a debilitating effect, include nausea, swollen legs or hands, gum disease and a burning tongue.

    You may also be interested in reading:

    Discover The Menopause Hub with extensive resources and support for a smooth transition through menopause, and how employers can support women in the workplace going through menopause

    *UK survey based on responses from 1,526 women, nationally representative, during January 2024, of which 996 were women taking MenoFriend®. Over 40,000 women enjoy relief from symptoms of menopause with MenoFriend®.

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