Menopause or Something Else?

When a woman in her late 40s wakes up in a sweat, she can feel many things: angry, worried, maybe a little sad. Is there something he probably won’t feel? He’s surprised because he’ll think night sweats have something to do with it. menopause. It’s not fun, but nothing to worry about.

But what if it’s not menopause? While sweating at night, hot flashes and brain fog are classic signs that a woman is experiencing “change,” but they can also be signs of other health problems, some of them serious.

Knowing which conditions can be mistaken for menopause can help you understand when symptoms may be something else.

menopause 101

A woman is in menopause when she has gone without menstruation for 12 months. perimenopause A woman’s symptoms related to hormonal changes begin when they first appear and end a year after she stops menstruating.

perimenopause It can take four to eight years. Common symptoms during this time include:

  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • sleep problems
  • mood/mental health changes
  • vaginal dryness
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Brain fog and other problems with concentration
  • memory problems

While not everyone experiences all these symptoms, few of us can expect to go through menopause without any problems; more than that 8 out of 10 women reports that there are some symptoms in the transition to and during menopause.

Same symptoms, different problem

Because menopause can come with many symptoms, women in their 40s and 50s may be tempted to consider any health changes to menopause, especially if their healthcare providers (HCPs) don’t tell them otherwise.

But some of the most common menopause symptoms can be red flags if they’re not caused by hormone changes. Mary Jane Minkinclinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine and a member of HealthyWomen’s Women’s Health Advisory Council. He explained that some conditions can be confused with menopause because of shared symptoms. These include:


Perimenopausal women can still get pregnant until a full year has passed without menstruation. Therefore, when patients have menstrual delay and hot flashes, Minkin always rules out. pregnancy first.

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

hyperthyroidism It is when the body produces too much of a hormone called thyroxine. It can cause irritability, sweating, and other symptoms common during menopause. “Hyperthyroidism can certainly look like menopause — skipping periods, making you hot, and making you sleep lousy,” Minkin said.

Collagen vascular diseases

Collagen vascular diseases It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Some of these diseases, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can look like menopause. “If someone has a fever and aches, they may have menopause, but they may also have collagen vascular disease,” Minkin says. Said.


Some cancers can cause missed periods, night sweats, and other symptoms experienced during menopause. “Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma classics, but few others cancers can do it,” said Minkin.

Sleep apnea

Because poor sleep is so common during perimenopause, women may think waking up in the night is the result of menopause when they’re actually going through menopause. Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common but underdiagnosed sleep disorder linked to heart disease and other health problems.

More than just mood swings in menopause

Although they almost one of four fairies and menopausal womenHe also said that mood changes should not be considered menopause. Dr. Lisa Larkininternist and member of the Healthy Women’s and Women’s Health Advisory Council.

“We know the perimenopause transition is a time of vulnerability to mood disorder,” Larkin said. Said. She explained that some women experience anxiety or depression for the first time during this transition, but are more common in those with a history of these conditions.

“But not all 50-year-old depression is related to menopause, and appropriate management often includes typical antidepressant/anxiety medications,” Larkin said.

Difficulty concentrating and remembering things can be menopause blackout – but can also have symptoms dementia. About 200 thousand people under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

How to tell if your symptoms are menopause

So how do you know if your symptoms are menopause or something else? Start by talking to your HCP. they may suggest you try hormone therapyIf it’s related to menopause, it should work to relieve your symptoms. If hormone therapy isn’t working, it’s a sign that something else may be happening — and you and your provider can act accordingly.

“If I give a patient estrogen and they say, ‘No, it didn’t make any difference and I’m still sweating like crazy,’ then I’m going to look for other reasons,” Minkin said.

And what if your healthcare provider dismisses every symptom and concern about “Just menopause” no matter what you say? Time to find a new HCP.

“Women need to advocate for themselves middle age,” Larkin said. “They need to proactively discuss troubling/new symptoms with their healthcare provider. If their HCP is not taking an adequate medical history or is not adequately investigating or addressing their concerns, they should seek another opinion from another provider.

For more information and to find a menopause specialist, try “Find a Menopause Practitioner”. North American Menopause Society.

This resource was created with support from Pfizer and developed in partnership with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

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