Menopause Guide

Often referred to as 'the change', menopause is a life stage experienced by women, usually at around the age of 51. The menopause signals the end of the menstrual cycle, which is the series of stages, which take place to prepare the body for pregnancy. Once you have gone through the menopause, your body no longer releases eggs and it becomes virtually impossible to get pregnant.

The average age for women to go through the menopause in the UK is 51; however, the menopause can occur earlier or later than this and most women go through at least 2 years of perimenopause before the menopause; this is when hormonal changes occur in the body prior to the menopause and it can last from 2 to 8 years. In cases where symptoms of the menopause become apparent before the age of 40, this is classed as premature menopause. It is possible for periods to stop abruptly when you reach the menopause, but it is much more common to experience irregular periods and increasingly long intervals between periods for some time leading up to the menopause.

The most common signs of menopause include:

  • hot flushes and episodes of feeling very warm, even when it's cold outside; this often makes your cheeks blush and causes you to sweat
  • sweating during the night: most women find that they start sweating during the night when they go through menopause, even if they don't feel hot or it is not hot inside the room
  • changes in mood: mood swings are a common side-effect of menopause and most women find that they become more emotional and irritable than usual

Coping with menopause

Most women go through menopause without any need for formal treatment; however, there are treatments out there if you experience severe symptoms or you are struggling with specific problems. Many people assume that the menopause is just something that you have to battle through and to some extent, this is true; however, there are always people you can talk to and help is available through your GP or through charities or organisations, which deal specifically with the menopause and its effects.

What Causes The Menopause? »