The menopause is a natural part of aging that happens when a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs, leading to a decline in the reproductive hormones that they produce (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone). It refers to when a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months.
It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age for women in the UK being 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as pre-mature menopause.
The transition period leading up to the menopause is the perimenopause, and can last for a few months or several years. During this time, periods may become lighter/more irregular and other symptoms can start to emerge.
What are common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause?
- Hot flushes – short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest, which can make your skin red and sweaty
- Night sweats – hot flushes that occur at night
- Difficulty sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day
- A reduced sex drive (libido)
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
- Mood changes, such as low mood or anxiety
- Palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable
- Joint stiffness, aches and pains
- Reduced muscle mass
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Source: NHS - Menopause
What are the treatment options?
Your GP can offer treatments (such as hormone replacement therapy) and suggest lifestyle changes if you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your quality of life. You can find out more about these on the NHS website.
What every woman needs to know about the perimenopause and menopause
The below video from Women's Health UK provides the the essential facts all women should be aware of when navigating their late thirties and beyond.
Menopause and the workplace
- NHS Employers - Menopause and the workplace: Information on how menopause can affect women at work, and practical guidance for employers on how to improve workplace environments for them.
- NHS Staff Council - Menopause at work: A guide for line managers and all staff.
- Henpicked - Managing your menopause 3 stage process: This editable workbook is to help you work out what's right for you and plan your next steps.
- Henpicked - Line manager support guide: This workbook provides knowledge and understanding around menopause and where to signpost support and help.
- Menopause Awareness and Training Pack: This resource provides information on understanding the menopause, and is aimed at NHS organisations and teams.
- My Menopause Doctor: Dr Louise Newson, her colleagues and expert guests discuss a wide range of menopause-related topics to give listeners unbiased, evidence-based and holistic information and advice to help them and their loved ones manage the symptoms and challenges of the menopause and perimenopause.
- Menopause - The Good, The Bad & The Downright Sweaty; Diane Danzebrink and Sophie C talk frankly and openly about all things menopause.
Support networks and resources for women
- We are Daisy Network: Dedicated to providing information and support to women diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, also known as Premature Menopause.
- Healthtalk: On this webpage you can watch other people share their stories of going through menopause.
- Women's Health Concern: The patient arm of the British Menopause Society (BMS). They provide a confidential, independent service to advise, reassure and educate women of all ages about their gynaecological and sexual health, wellbeing and lifestyle concerns.
- Henpicked: One of the UK's fastest growing websites for women over 40, sharing helpful information, top tips and wisdom: happiness, health, wealth, and menopause.
At Keeping Well BLMK, we can provide a safe, supportive space for you to talk about what’s going on for you. We can also help think with you about how you might want to access support and make onward referrals if needed.
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Updated on: 14/04/2022