Women’s Health

5 Unique Symptoms of Menopause for Black Women

Black women often experience more severe menopause symptoms than white women. They feel confused and uncomfortable due to the higher intensity of vasomotor symptoms (VMS) during menopausal transition such as hot flashes and night sweats. There are varieties of reasons why these women have unique symptoms and what are those symptoms.

The symptoms

  1. Physical symptoms range from fatigue to vulnerability to exposure to HIV faster than women from other races. The symptoms occur due to hormonal changes that initiate at an earlier age among women in the Black community than others. These women uniquely experience the severity of symptoms for a longer duration as well. Infrequent to persistent sleep difficulties and lack of energy is quite common.
  2. Emotional problems are easily identified whenever menopause arrives. The women feel depressed, sad, irritable, and emotionally unmanageable when they constantly deal with the mix of the beginning of the menopausal signs and symptoms.
  3. Motor symptoms are observed in the form of extreme distress. Frustration about what will happen and how life will change creates a loop of anxiety, sleepless nights, and a cycle of worry that is worse to think about. Loss of interest in daily activities and exercise is also a challenge.
  4. Cognitive disturbances are quite evident. Studies report over the last decade that Black women tend to forget things more often and experience poor recall of recent events when their menopause is near, they also have a diminished ability to focus.
  5. Social symptoms include the poor quality of life that is expected to come due to the burden of overwhelming physical changes, emotional distress, cognitive fusion, and motor imbalances. On the other hand, intimacy comes to decline when vaginal dryness and painful sex are routine. Discord between partners has a major influence on the emotional health of women in their midlife.

What causes them?

  1. First of all the perceived health status is closely related to the menopausal symptoms experience. The way a woman believes her health is a direct reflection of how her body responds and what outcomes she will get. Women from different cultures have a unique impact that menopause has on their bodies due to societal beliefs about the midlife of women. For example, in specific communities, menopause is considered the end of a woman’s life and health while other offers the same respect to the women she had been enjoying before.
  2. The average age of hitting this stage is between 45-55 years old. Black women have been showing the signs as they enter 40 years of age. The emerging studies highlight triggers when compared with white women, the Black women who have faced chronic fatigue syndrome due to extra responsibilities at home and work in the history may reach menopause quicker than others.
  3. The family history of premature menopause is an obvious reason. This is the cause where heredity jumps in while others admit it as an issue purely pressed by a series of highly stressful events such as discrimination. If their close relatives women have reported then there is a risk.
  4. Next, hysterectomy is a potential predictor. When uterus and ovaries are removed or the procedure has been done to eliminate fibroid tumors the chances of early menopause increase among ethnic minorities.

What are the possibilities to solve them?

  1. Self-care is the first pillar of moving oneself out of any chaos. This chaotic phase must be passed with a good social life, friends to communicate with, the addition of enjoyable activities in daily routine, relaxing workouts, meditations, or walks with adopting light clothing to wear and soft fabrics for bedding. Buying a portable fan is a good idea, carry a water bottle all the time. They must wipe off their worries and sweat with towels. Talking about the changes with the intimate partner and letting them cooperate in using lubricating aids is another idea. There is a lot more to it based on unique needs. Allow them to learn to facilitate them in this unique journey.
  2. There is a need to educate medical providers who deal with menopausal medicine for the affected patients.  
  3. The women, who are misdiagnosed, untreated, or without any medical support, should seek help from medical practitioners for their overall health assessment and prevention measures. Strokes, bone loss, and heart disease are the huge consequences that combine with menopause. A sudden shift in health might lead a person to become careful about seeking advice from multiple healthcare settings as an opinion.
  4. As an individual, crossing this natural process is possible. Medication and hormone replacement therapy are the choices. But minor adjustments in daily diet shall not be ignored. Lean proteins, calcium-rich foods, and nutrient-dense vegetables are the three recommendations for a better and healthier transition that cannot be stopped. Likewise, three things to avoid are alcohol use, spicy food, and caffeine.
  5. Hormonal and non-hormonal treatments are both effective in reducing the impact. However, among millions of affected populations in America, Black women are less likely to receive vaginal estrogen as the treatment and even they are not prescribed hormonal therapy. This unobserved population needs improvement.

Why it is important to pay attention?

African American women report their unique menopausal symptoms to physicians regularly but the rate of treatment-seeking among those women is only 20%. The menopausal phase brings a significant change in life that follows significant years of life spent in this world. It must be smooth and full of racial equity when it comes to treatment facilities and services. It is crucial to understand that it does not happen in every woman the same way but the management must be balanced.

Whenever you see them smoking, offer them deep breathing, hold their hand, and be compassionate. On an individual level, it is in everyone’s hands to join a woman in transition during her session to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. It is a small gesture with enormous results. The act of kindness from one person in the community may become a contagious ball of kicking out racial disparities. Keep the hope alive!

For more reading:



Garbose, R. A., Wu, J., Christianson, M. S., Robinson, T., Gaines, T., & Shen, W. (2020). Menopause symptoms delineated by HIV clinical characteristics in African American women with HIV. Menopause, 28(2), 189–197. https://doi.org/10.1097/gme.0000000000001678

Im, E., Chang, S. J., Chee, E., & Chee, W. (2018). The relationships of multiple factors to menopausal symptoms in different racial/ethnic groups of midlife women: The structural equation modeling. Women & Health, 59(2), 196–212. https://doi.org/10.1080/03630242.2018.1450321 Williams, M., Richard‐Davis, G., Williams, P., Christensen, L., Ward, E., & Schrager, S. (2022). A review of African American women’s experiences in menopause. Menopause, 29(11), 1331–1337. https://doi.org/10.1097/gme.000000000000206

About the author

Dr. Nazish Idrees Chaudhary

Dr. Nazish Idrees Chaudhary is a registered clinical psychologist. Holding a doctorate, she is currently working as an assistant professor at The University of Lahore and working as a Director of Operations at the Grace Rehabilitation Center. She has been working with people around the world, including minorities and those with special needs. Her culturally sensitive approach in clinical settings for the last 12 years and diverse experience made her a unique writer in this field

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