Two major symptoms of menopause often mistaken for something else – when to see a doctor

Penny Lancaster discusses her menopause 'brain fog'

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Menopause is a rite of passage in a woman’s life, but it can come with side effects that can be worrying. While most people are aware of symptoms such as “hot flushes” or the loss of periods, according to Katie Taylor, CEO and founder of The Latte Lounge: Top Tips for Women Over 40, there are many vital signs people miss.

She told Express.co.uk that although the most well-known symptoms of this transitional period are well known, other symptoms can land women with misdiagnoses.

According to Ms Taylor, some of the most common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include “low mood, brain fog, low libido, dry skin, heart palpitations, anxiety, hair loss, UTI’s, vaginal atrophy or dryness, weight gain, insomnia, lack of energy, irregular periods, hot flushes and night sweats.”

However, many of these are also key indicators of other conditions and in some cases can see women placed on unnecessary medication, according to the expert.

Yet, of all symptoms, Ms Taylor says anxiety and low mood are some of the symptoms most commonly misdiagnosed.

She explained: “Low mood and anxiety is so often misdiagnosed as depression and women are regularly given anti-depressants.

“This is because there is almost no menopause education at medical school and almost nothing on the ten years before menopause (perimenopause) on the psychological symptoms.”

What should you do if you think you have been misdiagnosed?

For women who think they have been misdiagnosed, Ms Taylor recommends speaking to your doctor again and requesting a second opinion.

She told Express.co.uk: “Print off a symptom checklist and questions to ask your doctor and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines which state that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and not antidepressants are first-line treatment for menopause symptoms.

“Book a double appointment with a GP. Ask in advance if there is a doctor with a special interest or knowledge in menopause and women’s health.

“Take your partner or a friend or family member with you as it can be overwhelming and you may forget things.

“Take a notepad to and track your symptoms too.

“Note that over the age of 45 blood tests are not a reliable indicator of perimenopause or menopause – the symptoms are usually enough to make a diagnosis.”

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What is the difference between menopause and perimenopause symptoms?

Perimenopause is the first stage of the menopause process, marking the end of a woman’s reproductive years.

Menopause is the point when a woman no longer has menstrual periods for at least 12 months.

The time at which both changes begin can vary from woman to woman.

According to the NHS, this usually occurs between 45 and 55 years old, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline.

Ms Taylor explained: “Menopause is one year and one day since your last period.

“Perimenopause can start up to as much as ten years before. So, you can still be having periods and not having hot flashes.”

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How can you alleviate the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause?

Ms Taylor states: “Make sure your diet is optimised and that you are maintaining a healthy weight, but if you are suffering please go and see your doctor or ask for a referral to a menopause specialist if they are not confident in making a diagnosis.

“If you would like and can take HRT, then it is usually exceptionally good at alleviating most symptoms as it simply replaces the hormones that your body has lost.”

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