The Change

Your Guide to Menopause: What is it & What to expect

The word ‘menopause’ comes from the Greek words ‘menos’ meaning month, and ‘pause’ meaning to cease. It’s the time when your reproductive system is winding down and coming to an end. Identifying this time can be tricky as your hormones fluctuate for months or even years around this time!

Most women go through menopause between 45 and 55, with the average being 52. If menopause occurs between 41 and 45, it’s referred to as Early Menopause and if under 40, Premature Menopause. In fact, about one in a thousand women experience menopause before 30 and often no cause can be found.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for menopause at any age. Once the ovaries stop working, they can’t be switched on again.

Menopause can also be a side effect from other medical conditions. For example, radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer, or if ovaries are removed.

Symptoms of menopause

According to The Jean Hailes Foundation, 20% of women will have no symptoms at all, 20% will have severe symptoms and 60% will have mild to moderate symptoms. Because the effects are hormonal, they can affect you both physically and emotionally. Symptoms and their severity can vary widely, so don’t panic too much when you read this rather long list!

Symptoms

Irregular periods and spotting
Aches and pains
Bloating
Crawling or itchy skin
Headaches/migraines
Hot flushes
Increased tiredness/wakefulness
Night sweats
Sore breasts
Urinary problems
Vaginal dryness
Weight gain

Mood swings
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty sleeping
Feeling anxious
Feeling irritable
Feeling less able to cope than usual
Forgetfulness
Increased PMS
Reduced interest in sex
Lowered mood

You might not experience all of these and many may be mild, but if you are doing it tough, speak to your GP about your options.

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