Insomnia, Brain Fog, Loss of Libido, Grumpy, Night Sweats – Trick or Treat??

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At Halloween time, kids are worried about getting the candy they want. Adults are worried that they won’t have enough candy to give out or that they need to find a costume for a costume party. If you’re in perimenopause or menopause, however, you might already feel like a witch! You and your family may be afraid that your menopausal symptoms are the sign of something more serious… or that they’re here to stay for good. Now that’s scary!

I’m happy to tell you that neither is true. In most cases, your menopausal symptoms are simply that: the side effects that come with the change of life. And, while they may seem never-ending, there is a jack-o-lantern at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms I’ve listed in my Menopause Symptoms Chart, and how you can demystify them to give yourself a little less trick and a little more treat.

Your period

If you’re one of those women whose period was so regular you could set your clock to it, forget your flow status quo. If your cramps were nothing to write home about, all bets are off now.

You’re likely to experience anything from spotting to lighter or heavier periods. You may even have some breakthrough bleeding (between cycles, whatever that may be). While a range of flow is normal and nothing to lose sleep over (you’ll be losing enough sleep anyway — more on that in a minute), report any extremely unusual bleeding to your menopause specialist.

You may have Freddy Krueger-style cramps, or no discomfort whatsoever. Just as women’s periods differ greatly before menopause, their menses symptoms will differ greatly during perimenopause and menopause.

And, of course, you’ll miss (as in skip) periods. The time between periods will become greater and greater until your periods say “sayonara.”


Misplacing your keys or your reading glasses is nothing to be concerned about. As we age, our memory begins to fail us (along with our metabolism, our hearing, our eyesight — but that’s a whole other story). During menopause, though, brain fog is quite common. If you find yourself saying, “Why are there kids in costumes at my front door?” then this is for you! To stave off age-related memory issues, you can do brain exercises. After all, we exercise other parts of our body.

You also might be overly sensitive, experience uncontrollable crying, be unusually depressed or withdrawn, super stressed out, anxious or overwhelmed by it all. You might not even want to answer that doorbell when the little kids come a-calling. Again, this too shall pass. Of course, if your mood swings are interfering with your daily life, see your menopause specialist.

On the other hand, you might be extremely grumpy (let’s call it witchy), angry or even violent. Think of it as PMS on steroids. I recommend sitting down with your family to let them know how you are feeling. This way, they will not personalize your mood swings. Ask your loved ones for their support and understanding. It’s the hormones, not them!

And, to top it all off, you may find that your libido has gone and left you stranded. Perimenopause/menopause does not have to take the treat out of your life. Communicate with your partner — and your doctor — on ways to reclaim your sex drive.


The list of physical symptoms during menopause is as long as the lines for haunted hay ride. From insomnia, migraines, hot flashes, night sweats,  hair loss and heart palpitations… to bloating, breast tenderness and being exhausted… to packing on the pounds and perennial peeing… to vaginal discharge, dryness and difficulty reaching orgasm… it’s a veritable haunted house of symptoms. They may be a bit scary, to put it lightly, but they’re definitely not life threatening. If certain symptoms (like lack of sleep) are impacting your ability to function, then it’s time to call your menopause specialist.

Perimenopause and menopause don’t have to spook you! A good menopause specialist can get you the help you need and deserve. Oh, I forgot to mention one more common fear among menopausal women this time of year… the fear that you’ll eat all of the Halloween candy before you hear your doorbell ring and that first chorus of “Trick or treat!”

Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN! 

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.

  • Nicole

    Thank you for confirming my reality! Sometimes, I think it just me. Apparently, menopausal symptoms are more common than not.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      There are over 30 symptoms! Most women experience at least one or two – some more! LMK if you need any further support! You can email me at and I can send you a copy of my Menopause Symptoms Chart. This chart will help you communicate to your doctor – how you feel – quickly and easily!

  • Eve

    Thanks for the good information. Because Iam having all the symptom, and are afraid to talk to my husband about it. But I finally talked to the internist. Because just since june have had 2 uti’s and a very sore vagina area.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Glad you reached out to your doctor, Eve. You might want to read this Menopause Mondays Blog on vaginal atrophy. If your regular internist is not able to help you, I would find a Menopause Specialist. I have some helpful tips in this Dear Ellen