Menopause is when a woman stops having periods. Menopause means ‘the last menstrual period’. It's not only those who identify as women who will experience menopause. Some transgender men, non-binary people and intersex people or people with variations in sex characteristics may also experience menopause.
Menopause is a natural event and transition that women experience, however, the timing and symptoms are different for everyone. You can look at your family history to get an idea of when you might go through it. It's likely to be a similar age to when your mother or older sisters started theirs.
Menopause can also occur due to certain surgeries or cancer treatments. This can sometimes cause symptoms to be more sudden and in some cases more severe.
Perimenopause is the time from the start of menopausal symptoms until after a woman has experienced her last period. Periods will usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. They might be more irregular and become heavier or lighter. For some women, they can stop suddenly.
Postmenopause is the time after a woman experiences her last period. A woman is said to be postmenopausal when she has not had a period for 12 months.
Perimenopause and menopause are a natural part of a woman’s life course and usually occur between the ages 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels drop (although it can start earlier). In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51.
Life doesn't have to be put on hold because of menopause. There's a lot that can be done to help manage symptoms, including making healthy lifestyle choices, trying different treatments and seeking support from healthcare professionals.
Symptoms of menopause
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some women will experience few, or no, symptoms. But for some, they can be quite severe and have a significant impact on everyday life.
The first sign of menopause is usually a change in the normal pattern of your periods. You may start having either unusually light or heavy periods.
The frequency of periods may also be affected. They may occur every two or three weeks, or they might not occur for months at a time. Eventually, periods will stop altogether, although for some women other menopause symptoms may continue.
Some women can start experiencing symptoms such as migraines, irritability and low mood especially around the period time, without seeing irregularity in periods.
There are many menopausal symptoms and symptoms can differ between individuals. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- 'brain fog' and memory issues
- difficulty sleeping
- hot flushes
- joint aches
- loss of sex drive (libido)
- low mood or anxiety
- night sweats
- vaginal dryness or pain
Patients who are considering starting HRT therapies for menopausal symptoms, should look at https://www.menopausematters.co.uk in the first instance.
This site contains information on menopausal symptoms, remedies and advice.
It is helpful to consider into your own health needs prior to having an appointment with one of our healthcare professionals.
Menopause Matters contains the most up to date and accurate information in this area of health and wellbeing.