Menopause and Perimenopause Madness: Why Hormone Changes Make Us Crazy

No wonder the menopause transition drives women nuts.

It’s not just the symptoms, though these can be a royal pain.

It’s that some of them make you think you’re dying.

This is especially true when you’re experiencing ills not commonly associated with this stage of life.

Beyond Hot Flashes

When most people think of menopause and perimenopause, they think of hot flashes. But hormonal changes affect women very differently. I’ve hit menopause but have yet to experience a hot flash. And I’m not alone.

I do have tingling, itching, leg pain and recently spilled my glass of water five times within two days.

At least with hot flashes the cause is clear. Women with less common conditions find themselves speculating about major diseases. The other night, I started worrying about Parkinson’s. I don’t know if tingling is even related to Parkinson’s. But 2 a.m. is a great time for replaying the family diseases.

There’s nothing like uncertainty to get the monkey mind going, especially the mama monkey mind. You know how it goes, dear midlife moms. Mystery symptoms set in, then panic. “Oh, no!” you think. “I can’t have a major disease! I have to get my kids through school!”

Misery Loves Company

I would have gone bonkers months ago were it not for the Internet.

Luckily, if you google many symptoms along with the word “menopause” or “perimenopause” you often find scores of hormone-crazed women complaining about the same thing. Oh, the relief of discovering all those other change-of-life ladies with leg pains! I love you all!

Indeed, a little research makes it clear that almost anything can be hormone related.

Tingly? Many women feel tingly during these years.  Some also experience a strange creepy crawly sensation on the skin. Heart pounding? Some menopausal women suffer palpitations so severe that they end up in the emergency room. Anxious? Panic attacks are also associated with plummeting hormones. The same goes for dizziness.

And if you couldn’t remember  names at the recent school function, don’t worry. Hormone changes, rather than early Alzheimer’s, are probably to blame according to Menopause and the Mind, which provides advice for dealing with brain fog.

Check this list of 34 menopause symptoms and you begin to wonder what isn’t affected by perimenopause and menopause.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

But maybe that’s okay. There’s no guarantee, and one shouldn’t ignore serious symptoms. Middle-aged women do have heart attacks. Yet assuming that some of these afflictions are hormone related – what a relief! Who cares about tingling as long as I make it to the high school graduation!

Most menopausal symptoms pass. That means this itchy, anxious, creepy crawly stage of life is probably just a phase. And we moms are good at dealing with tough phases.

The other day, after reading about women dropping things on one menopause forum, I sat back and relaxed. Suddenly a mantra from another difficult passage came to mind – that time when two toddlers were throwing shoes at my head and massacring my lipstick.

This too shall pass.

It may not be true. But it sure feels better.


Any mystery ailments have you spooked? Could they be related to menopause or perimenopause?  Comment below so we can all benefit!

Need a good guide to this crazy stage? The Menopause Book is keeping me sane. The format makes it  easy to get answers fast.


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About Jennifer

A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal and Time, Jennifer is the award-winning author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life and pens the MidAge Mom blog.

She’s profiled exceptional women from the Middle East to Latin America. Widely published, her essays have been included in two anthologies.

Jennifer is also a frequent radio and TV guest. Full Bio

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In Beyond One, Jennifer chronicles her leap from one child to two, describing the enormous impact the second child has on a woman’s body, marriage, family life, friendships and work.

"Hull is the kind of woman many moms long to be friends with. . ." -The Cleveland Plain Dealer.


The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Atlantic Monthly,, MS., Parenting, Real Simple,, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Working Mother, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, American Way, Brain, Child, The Christian Science Monitor, and more.