What is Menopause?

The menopause happens to all women and naturally occurs when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels.
This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
Menopause can sometimes happen earlier naturally. It can also happen earlier due to reasons such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy), cancer treatments like chemotherapy, or a genetic reason. The reason can also sometimes be unknown.
Perimenopause is the stage from the beginning of menopausal symptoms before your periods have stopped.

Postmenopause is the time after menopause, when a woman hasn't experienced a period for over a year. Postmenopause, you will no longer have periods but some women do continue to experience symptoms of menopause.
The menopause happens to all women, it's nothing to be ashamed of and it's common to struggle while going through it, so remember you're not alone.

Symptoms of Menopause

Many women notice early symptoms while still having periods, when the hormone production is declining very gradually. You may have a number of symptoms or none, the experience can feel different for everyone, however Menopause and perimenopause symptoms can have a big impact on your daily life.

  • Changes to your mood, like low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem
  • Problems with memory or concentration (brain fog)
  • Hot flushes
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping, which may be a result of night sweats
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle aches and joint pains
  • Weight gain and change in body shape
  • Skin changes including dry and itchy skin
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Lifestyle changes to help manage menopause and perimenopause symptoms

By making some lifestyle changes you can help to manage some of the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, such as eating well, exercising and looking after your mental wellbeing.

  • Regular exercise such as walking, running or yoga can help to reduce stress levels, improve sleep and overall wellbeing.
  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet including plenty of fruit, vegetables and sources of calcium, vitamins and minerals can help to support weak bones and benefit overall health and wellbeing.
  • Try to reduce caffeine, alcohol and stop smoking.
  • Make sure to get plenty of rest and engage in relaxing activities to take care of your mental wellbeing.
  • Manage night sweats by avoiding hot drinks before bed, keeping a cool glass of water by the bed and keep your bedroom cool at night.
  • Other ways to manage hot flushes include; wearing light clothing or layers that can be removed, take cool showers, use a fan and try to reduce stress levels. Keeping a diary of hot flush triggers can also be beneficial.
  • Talk to other people going through the same thing, like family, friends or colleagues.

Menopause Treatments

As well as discussing lifestyle changes you can make to relieve certain symptoms your GP can offer treatments such as hormone replacement therapy and refer you for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety.

The main medicine treatment for menopause and perimenopause symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which replaces the hormones that are at low levels. There are other treatments if you cannot, or choose not to, have HRT.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
HRT is a safe and effective treatment for most going through menopause and perimenopause. Your GP will discuss any risks with you.
HRT involves using oestrogen to replace your body's own levels around the time of the menopause.
There are different types and doses of HRT. Using the right dose and type usually means your symptoms improve.
Non-hormone medicines
There are non-hormone treatments if your symptoms are having a big impact on your life and you cannot, or choose not to, have HRT.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy which can help with:

  • Low mood and anxiety caused by menopause and perimenopause.
  • Some physical symptoms like hot flushes and joint pain.

Living with the menopause

Talking menopause with your GP

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