Menopause: Signs, Symptoms, and Debunking the Myths

In the realm of women’s health, menopause remains somewhat of a mystery, shrouded by misconceptions and false information. It’s only been in the last couple of decades that women have begun speaking up and demanding better treatment options. And yet our discomfort and our major symptoms are often dismissed by doctors. We’re told “you’re fine” or “it’s part of getting older” instead of getting the help we need to get to the bottom of what’s happening in our bodies.

As one of the few Naturopathic Doctors in the US certified by the North American Menopause Society, I’m on a mission to help women better understand the health of their hormones, menstrual cycles, and how we can age gracefully – which means traversing menopause without suffering through symptoms or buying into the myth that it’s the end of our sanity and sensuality.

In this article, I’m answering some of the most common questions my clients ask about menopause, its stages, and how to stay happy and healthy as your hormones evolve. 

For an even deeper conversation on the topic, listen to my podcast, Hot Flashes & Cold Realities: Demystifying Menopause.

What happens during menopause?

When people say they’re  “going through menopause” they’re usually referring to the symptoms that occur prior to menopause, in the perimenopausal years – the symptomatic years that lead to menopause. “Menopause” refers to the time after you have had your last menstrual cycle. You are officially “in menopause” 12-months after your last menstrual cycle. 


Early signs of menopause and perimenopausal symptoms

Perimenopause usually starts in your 40s, but can start as early as 35. If you’re in your forties, you might be wondering if menopause is around the corner. But the reality is you might already be experiencing signs of perimenopause and not even know it. 

Early Perimenopause is characterized by three major hormonal changes that may begin in regularly menstruating women in their mid-30s. These hormonal changes include erratic and higher estrogen levels, decreased progesterone levels, and ovarian-brain communication changes involving a hormone called LH. Later in perimenopause and in menopause our estrogen levels will drop considerably and that’s when we start seeing late stage signs like hot flashes or bone loss.

What’s almost universally true is that in early perimenopause, your periods start becoming irregular. As we get closer to menopause, we might start skipping random cycles altogether, which looks like 60 days or more between cycles. Some other symptoms you might notice are:

  • Weight gain
  • Wrinkles and other skin changes
  • Hair thinning
  • Memory issues
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Mood changes


Debunking myths and finding relief from menopausal symptoms

There are some common myths about menopause.  One is that HRT  is not safe and the other is that if your mom suffered through menopause then it’s your fate to suffer too. But, this just isn’t true.  Check out my blog on HRT or listen to the podcast Hot Flashes & Cold Realities: Demystifying Menopause. for more about these myths. A combination of lifestyle modification, a few well chosen supplements, and HRT are true preventative medicines when it comes to menopause and I go into this in detail in the podcast. 


Finding a menopause and hormone specialist

For many women, their first instinct is to book an appointment with their gynecologist or a general practitioner when they begin experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause. However, your general practitioner or gynecologist probably isn’t your best option.  Unless specifically mentioned, obstetricians, gynecologists, and general practitioners  don’t have speciality training in menopause and hormonal changes. 

If you’re in your mid-thirties to fifties and looking for someone to help you navigate your pre-menopause, menopausal or post-menopausal symptoms, you might want to turn to a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP).

NAMS refers to the North American Menopause Society, the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging. Its multidisciplinary membership of 2,900 leaders in the field makes NAMS uniquely qualified to provide information that is both accurate and unbiased. The NAMS certification is important as it demonstrates that the provider has obtained specialized training, expertise and a high level of competency in the field of menopause management, which can be crucial for providing specialized care to menopausal patients during each stage.

Are you ready to tackle hormone changes and menopause? Book a consultation with Dr. Kate.


Dr. Kate Naumes specializes in menstrual and hormone health for women, helping her clients live healthy, vibrant lives from preconception through menopausal stages. Her deep knowledge of the female hormonal journey enables her to create highly tailored and effective healthcare solutions that cater to her clients’ unique needs.

Dr. Kate holds a Doctorate in Naturopathy and a BA in Biochemistry, among other certifications, and is a highly trusted naturopathic doctor with over 16 years of experience. Dr. Kate is one of only ten ND’s in the US certified as a NAMS menopause practitioner (NCMP).