Six embarrassing menopause symptoms - and what you can do

Thinning hair, hot flushes, incontinence, excess wind, vaginal dryness and forgetfulness...

Common Menopause Symptoms

If the mood swings weren't bad enough, menopause can bring with it a host of embarrassing symptoms. From thinning hair to incontinence and excess wind, here's what you can do.

See also: Five ways the menopause affects your sex life

See also: Coping with menopausal hot flushes

1. Incontinence
If you experience leakage problems during menopause you're not alone. Bladder problems can occur due to the drop in oestrogen – which causes the lining of your urethra (the tube that empties urine from your bladder) to thin as well as weaken your pelvic floor.

What you can do: Strengthen your pelvic floor by doing regular exercises. Invest in a specially-designed exercise set – the LadySystem Pelvic Floor Exercise Therapy, £39.95 from Amazon has good reviews – or simply squeeze and release the muscles as if trying to stop yourself peeing. Do this for 10 times in a row, aiming to hold the squeeze for a few seconds each time.

2. Flatulence
Two-out-of-three menopausal women report increased flatulence, according to While changes in hormones may be partly to blame, many women change their diets around this time, which can also result in increased gas. For example, switching to a high-fibre diet and eating more soy can result in extra wind.

What you can do: Go easy on gas-causing foods such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts and legumes like black-eyed peas, lentils and beans. Nuts and dairy products can also cause a problem. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners and carbonated drinks. Try chewing your food for longer, as this allows saliva enzymes to break food down before it heads for the digestive tract. Taking an over-the-counter remedy such as Wind-eze may help.

3. Hot flushes
Hot flushes affect around 75% of menopausal women – and the problem can continue for as many as seven years. Hormonal changes are to blame for affecting the body's natural temperature control.

What you can do: Cut back on caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods and drink plenty of water. Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing (layers you can remove are a better option than a polo neck jumper). Exercising can also help. A study from Liverpool John Moores University found that menopausal women who followed a regular gym regime reduced their hot flushes by two-thirds.

4. Vaginal dryness
More than 50% of menopausal women experience vaginal dryness. The drop in oestrogen causes vaginal tissues to become thinner and less elastic and reduces the amount of lubrication produced during arousal.

As an instant solution, try using water-based lube. Today's advanced formulations feel natural, rather than heavy and sticky. Some - like Durex Play Aloe Vera - contain nourishing ingredients that can help to soothe soreness. Avoid using perfumed bath and shower products and use soap devised for sensitive areas – such as Vagisil pH Balance Intimate Wash.

5. Forgetfulness
Researchers from the University of California say that 60% of women suffer a temporary decline in memory skills during the menopause. Fluctuating hormone levels are believed to be the cause.

What you can do: Anything that encourages blood flow to the brain will help, which is why it's important to exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. Getting a good night's sleep will also help to keep you mentally sharp. Thankfully, memory problems in menopause are usually only temporary.

6. Thinning hair
If you notice your hair gets thinner after your periods stop, blame falling oestrogen levels. When oestrogen levels drop, your hair won't grow at the same rate. At the same time, an increase in male hormones causes the diameter and length of hairs to shrink, meaning that they grow back weaker.

What you can do: Using a thickening shampoo and conditioner that locks in moisture can help. Dietary issues (such as a lack of iron) can also be to blame. Add more lean red meat, wholegrains and dark green leafy greens to your diet – or try taking a specially-devised supplement for strong hair and nails.