Today marks World Menopause Day, but how many of us truly have an understanding or awareness of menopause and it’s impact on women during what should be a very natural part of their life cycle, unless we have personally been through it?
What is the menopause?
The menopause is when a woman comes to the end of her reproductive years and stops having menstrual cycles, a very natural part of ageing that usually happens between 45 and 55 years old.
Should be simple right? “It’s just when a woman’s period stops – what’s the problem and the fuss all about?”
Well it’s slightly more complicated than that and this is why.
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occur as women get older. It happens when the ovaries stop producing as much of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Lower levels of these hormones cause menopause symptoms.
Symptoms of menopause
Most women will experience some of the symptoms associated with menopause and the duration and severity of these symptoms varies from woman to woman.
Symptoms can also start a few months or even years before a woman’s menstrual cycle stops, this is known as the perimenopause.
On average, most symptoms last around 4 years from the last cycle however, around 1 in 10 women experience symptoms for up to 12 years after.
What are the symptoms?
Wait for it, it’s a long old list of approximately 34 symptoms, and a little bit more than just hot flushes!
1. Irregular periods
2. Hot flushes
3. Night sweats
5. Water and gas bloating
6. Vaginal dryness
7. Digestive problems
8. Lower libido
9. Mood swings
12. Weight gain
13. Breast tenderness and pain
14. A hot mouth
15. Joint issues
16. Dizzy spells
17. Muscle tension
18. Thinner hair
19. Electric shocks
20. Gum issues
21. Pins and needles
22. Lack of focus
23. Lapses in memory
24. Itchy skin
26. Brittle nails
27. Poor sleep
28. Urinary incontinence
29. Body odour
30. Hayfever & allergies
31. Heart palpitations
33. Panic attacks
The good news is (yep there is good news)… every woman is different, therefore every menopause experience is different. You could experience many or just a few of these symptoms other than menstrual cycle changes and hot flushes.
If you do notice any, be sure to make an appointment to chat about the options and support available with your GP or doctor, there is help available.
Check out these organisations that can provide information and support:
Menopause Support – https://menopausesupport.co.uk/
Bupa Women’s Health Hub – https://www.bupa.co.uk/womens-health/menopause-support
Menopause and Me – https://www.menopauseandme.co.uk/
British Menopause Society – https://thebms.org.uk/
The Balance App by Dr Louise Newson – https://www.balance-menopause.com/balance-app/