Menopause Mondays: Ellen’s 5 Steps to Hormone Happiness, Step 3: Chart Your Menopause Symptoms

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Are you awake at 3AM? Forgetting the names of your own children? Suddenly losing your keys, your temper and your mind? Did you recently become a member of the sisterhood of the shrinking pants? Would you rather mop your kitchen floor than slip into bed with your lover? Has your vagina suddenly packed up and gone to the Sahara desert? It turns out that perimenopause and menopause isn’t just the cessation of a bodily function. No, an alien did not come down and infiltrate your body…you most likely are experiencing some of the myriad of perimenopause and menopause symptoms.

There is help! Jump aboard our 5-step program to hormone happiness. The first step is to open up and reach out so that you can take action! Next is Step 2: Find a Menopause Specialist. This week, we are going to help you prepare for your doctor’s appointment with Step 3: Chart Your Menopause Symptoms. Charting is easy and will ensure that you are able to communicate exactly how you are feeling to your menopause specialist. So, grab your boat shoes; here we go!

Each woman’s experience is determined by her unique physiology. There is no one size fits all journey. My first major symptom was memory loss, and I had no idea this was a symptom of perimenopause. I was scared and afraid that I was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s! Why the big cover up? Let’s bust open the conversation and sound the alarm for others to start thinking inside the box!

Here is a list of some of symptoms that you may experience along your perimenopause and menopause journey:

Period changes



Memory lapse (sticky notes aplenty)
Overly sensitive
Uncontrollable crying
Unusually depressed and withdrawn
Overall sense that I’m not ok
Tense (like a rubber band ready to snap)
Bursts of anger
Low sex drive


Oddly dry skin
Hair loss
PMS-like bloating
Sore or ballooning breasts
Increased chin whiskers
Deepening voice
Pimples galore
Hot flashes or flushes
Night drenches
Sleepless nights
Heart palpitations
Weight gain (shrinking pants)
Stiffness, aches, and pains
Bladder issues
Vaginal infections
Excessive vaginal discharge
Breakthrough vaginal bleeding
Vaginal dryness
Harder to reach orgasm

Stay calm, and feel empowered by this knowledge you are gaining. Now that you are aware of the possible symptoms, the next step is to track which symptoms you are experiencing for at least two weeks prior to your first appointment with your menopause specialist. To help you track your symptoms, I have included a Menopause Symptoms Chart inside my book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness.

I found it helpful to chart my symptoms at the same time each day. For me, this was right before I went to bed. You should chart the frequency and nature of your periods and the type and severity of the symptoms you are experiencing. Be sure to be honest. There is no right or wrong answer. It is important to chart your symptoms daily because you may not remember the details of your symptoms a day or two later. This creates an accurate report that you and your doctor will use in combination with the tests your doctor will run (tune in next week for Step 4: Menopause and Testing). You and your doctor have to marry test results with how you feel each day to complete a thorough evaluation of your health and to choose an appropriate treatment strategy. If your doctor isn’t interested in reviewing your symptoms chart, you haven’t found the right doctor.

If you’ve reached this step in your journey, you are well on your way to finding hormone happiness! Congratulations! You are taking the steps that will lead you from being “fine” to true health, well-being, and happiness.

Remember: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!


Tell me: Where are you in your menopause journey? Are you taking the steps necessary to take care of yourself?

It’s all about how you feel.

After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Generally I don’t read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great post.

  • Jacqueline

    I’m 50 and the hormones are definitely changing. I’m lactose intolerant and eat a cup or so of Soy Yogurt for breakfast. Would this level of Soy in my diet potentially effect my hormones adversely, i.e. put me at risk for breast cancer?

  • martha

    Gluten Free diet has helped me tremendously. At first I just cut out breads. I never eat pasta cuz my husband is diabetic. (Eating pasta is like putting your spoon directly into the sugar bowl.)
    Now I shop at Barron’s and Trader Joe’s for gluten free foods. Just avoid the tendency to find more carbohydrate heavy foods.

    I found a doctor to help me balance my hormones. I did not realize I should be taking Progesterone WITH the Estrogen Biest. “BALANCE is what you need, she said, even tho’ you have had a complete hysterectomy.” My GP always told me I didn’t need the Progesterone since I had no uterus or ovaries.

    Testosterone helps your tissues remain supple such as your heart arteries, etc.
    Did not know that either.
    She tested me thoroughly. That is how we discovered I needed to be Gluten-Free.

    I’m a new person and not getting those awful ‘knock down hot flashes’.
    Martha Tyson

    • Dear Martha,

      Many people are finding that they feel better when they are gluten free.
      Thank you for sharing your story with us.


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    • Ellen Dolgen

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your comment! And Amen Sister!

  • D

    I am wondering if I am the only one that has had my tubes and ovaries removed? I still have a uterus, had had ovarian cysts. Since the operation my peri menopause or menopause symptoms are worse! I’m taking Bioidentical HRT. It had been 2 yrs now I’m 53 and still bleeding most months! I’m so confused!!! Some say bc I’m still bleeding in in peri menopause others say I am menopause surgically guess it really doesn’t matter either way it sucks!!!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      When you have your ovaries removed you go immediately into surgical menopause. Be sure that you are going to a menopause specialist! I have some tips on how to find one in this Dear Ellen. If you are on HRT and still are not feeling good. It is very possible that your HRT needs tweaking! Most importantly, definitely discuss this bleeding with your specialist.