Beyond Menopause: Recognizing Warning Signs That Require Medical Attention

The menopause is a challenging time for most women, with lots of different symptoms to contend with. However, how do you know if something is just another menopause-related issue or if something more worrying is going on?

Let’s find out more below.

What are the most common signs of menopause?

If you are going through or have come out the other side of menopause, you will probably be all too familiar with the most common signs of this transitional period which include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Weight gain
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Joint pain
  • Brittle bones (osteoporosis)

For post-menopausal women, the above symptoms may start to ease or disappear completely, although this is not the case for everyone.

Can cancer symptoms be mistaken as symptoms of menopause?

Some of the symptoms associated with menopause are similar to those associated with cancers such as uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and cervical cancer. Uterine and ovarian cancers are more common in post-menopausal women than cervical cancer, but all three can occur.

The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal uterine bleeding, which occurs in between 75-90% of women with this type of cancer.

Although it can be hard to distinguish between abnormal bleeding and menstrual period, especially during the menopause transition, the former can occur between menstrual cycles, be more frequent, and also heavier.

When it comes to ovarian cancer symptoms and signs to check for, some of these are similar to symptoms of menopause and others are quite different. Most notably, ovarian cancer causes abdominal bloating or swelling but it can also cause nausea, difficulty eating, and shortness of breath.

In contrast to both uterine and ovarian cancer, cervical cancer often has no symptoms, which is why cervical screening tests are so important for all women. In women who do experience symptoms of cervical cancer, these include irregular or heavy bleeding after sexual intercourse.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and you are worried that it could be something serious, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Are there any other health conditions that mimic the same symptoms as the menopause?

Sleep apnoea

Poor quality sleep or insomnia are common symptoms in both menopausal and post-menopausal women. However, they can also be a sign of a condition known as sleep apnoea.

A common but underdiagnosed condition, sleep apnoea is linked to heart disease and other health problems, so it is worth speaking to your doctor if you suspect that you may have this.


Many women experience “menopausal brain fog” which causes you to struggle with concentration and can make it hard to remember things. Whilst this is common in menopause, it could also be an early sign of dementia, which affects about 200,000 people under the age of 65.

Collagen vascular diseases

Collagen vascular diseases occur when the immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Some of the most common collagen vascular diseases are lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. If you feel hot and achy, this could be a result of menopause, or it could be a collagen vascular disease.

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