Was that really a hot flash? Is something different, or is it just you? When you’re in your forties or fifties, there’s a chance you’re hitting menopause, though some will reach menopause earlier or later than average. But how do you know if it’s actually menopause? Here are a few common symptoms that people experience during this change to help you know if your symptoms are actually menopause or something else entirely.

  1. Hot flashes: One of the most well-known symptoms of menopause, hot flashes, result in feeling particularly warm during certain points throughout the day. This can also present in the opposite direction: those experiencing menopause can also have chills or night sweats. The average person has two to four million sweat glands working as the body’s coolant system to protect it from overheating, but if you feel like yours might be kicking into overdrive, it could be a sign of the start of menopause.
  2. Emotional changes: Menopause directly impacts your estrogen and other hormone levels, and changes in hormones can result in mood imbalances. About 20% of people experience some form of depression during menopause, so if you’ve been finding yourself particularly tired, sad, unmotivated, or even irritable, it could be a sign of menopause. However, there can be many causes for this, so this symptom on its own is unlikely to signal menopause without other symptoms.
  3. Weight and metabolism changes: During menopause, it’s likely your metabolism will slow down. This often results in weight gain, but can also present as appetite changes. Try to focus on adjusting your diet and behaviors accordingly so that this doesn’t result in weight complications like pre-diabetes, which 33.9% of the adult U.S population has.
  4. Headaches: Hormone levels impact emotional state, but can also impact a wide variety of systems throughout the body. One additional side-effect of changing hormones can be headaches or even migraines. If you notice headaches or migraines when you formerly did not get them, or if you notice an increase in migraine headaches, you could be dealing with a hormone-influenced situation.
  5. Irregularity: Of course, one of the most commonly recognized symptoms of menopause is irregularity in your menstrual cycle. During menopause, the menstrual cycle becomes irregular and will eventually stop altogether. However, not everyone going through menopause experiences this change in the same way. This symptom can be influenced by behavioral patterns, like diet, exercise, or smoking. Additionally, use of certain types of contraceptives can also impact changes in your cycle. If you notice a change in this, it could be menopause, but it’s also possible that there have been changes in your life recently that could contribute to this; it’s important to not rush immediately to the conclusion that you’re experiencing menopause.

These are just a few symptoms of menopause, and there are many others that could point to you beginning this period in your life. Laser hair removal might take 30 minutes, but menopause can take years to fully emerge. However, if you notice any combination of these symptoms, or if you’re uncertain if you’re reaching menopause, it’s best to talk to your doctor for more information on how to take care of yourself during this point in your life.