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Menopause 

Introduction 

Coping with the menopause

The menopause is marked by the ending of menstruation (when a woman's periods stop). As a result of these hormonal changes, many women have physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats and irritability. Watch this video to hear two women describe their experience of the menopause, and learn about common symptoms and treatments.

Menopause myths

  • You cannot get pregnant after the menopause
    FALSE. It can and does happen, so carry on using contraception for two years after your last period if you are under 50 and for one year if you are over 50.
  • You are going to put on weight
    FALSE. Middle-age spread is often linked to the hormonal changes at this time of life but, as yet, there is no proof of this. Those extra inches could just be part of growing older and being less active.
  • Your menopause will be difficult because your mum’s was
    FALSE. There is no evidence that this is the case, although the age at which your mum went through the menopause could give you a clue as to when to expect symptoms. This is because the age of menopause tends to be similar in mothers and daughters.

The menopause is sometimes known as the 'change of life' and is marked by the ending of menstruation (when a woman's periods stop).

A woman’s periods do not usually stop suddenly. They generally become less frequent, the odd period is missed and then they stop altogether.

When it happens

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 52.

A woman is said to have reached the menopause once she has not had a period for one year. After this point, she can be described as post-menopausal.

If the menopause occurs in a woman who is under 45 years of age, it is known as premature menopause. It is estimated that premature menopause affects 1% of women under the age of 40 and 0.1% of women under the age of 30.

What happens?

During the time leading up to the menopause (perimenopause), the hormonal and biological changes that are associated with the menopause begin. As a result of these hormonal changes, many women experience both physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats and irritability (see Symptoms of menopause for more information).

The menopause is the end of egg production (ovulation). This occurs as a result of falling levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen, which regulates a woman’s periods.

Treatments

Most women reach the menopause without seeking medical advice. However, treatments are available that can ease menopausal symptoms that are severe or distressing (see Treatment for menopause for more information).

Last reviewed: 11/03/2010

Next review due: 11/03/2012

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Comments are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Ceejay5 said on 21 October 2011

Just when I thought it was all over! Two years after my last period, I appear to be spotting a bit today. This was preceded by extreme bloatedness, irritability/depression, tender nipples and swelling under armpits. Should I be worried or were my peri-menopausal symptoms merely on hold, only to be resumed all over again? I never did take any sort of test, by the way, but after two years without a period, I merely assumed I am now post-menopausal. I am 52 years old. All comments welcome, please. Thank you.

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Natalie1 said on 20 October 2011

I am 36 years old. About two years ago i came of the pill to try for a baby. I started to experience hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings. I went to my gp who suspected menopause. My husband and i were referred for fertility and it was confirmed i was going through early menopause (advanced stage) and the only fertility treatment was egg donation. Which we did not go for. Two years on i still feel hopefully of concieving or in denial im not sure. I still have periods which are not regular. I dont have hot flushes or night sweats. I take herbal remedies and have acupunture regulary. My gp recommends i take HRT but im not ready or want to do this. I keep my hopes up and think positively which i can do at the moment. My main worry is how will i be when my periods stop if i have not been able to concieve.

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Aly T said on 25 September 2011


I'm 44 and my periods stopped altogether about a year ago and a blood test confirmed I was menopausal. I did have a random period earlier this year that lasted about 3 weeks and I came out with hideous spots on my face, which the doctor diagnosed as rosacea. The spots cleared once my period stopped and I haven't had once since. My hot flushes haven't been too bad in that I'm not soaked with sweat when I have one, but I always carry a fan in my bag now!
My main problem is my mental faculties- just a feeling of being overwhelmed, forgetting lots and being angry or teary over nothing. It was worse when my periods first stopped- I felt really low and was prescribed anti-depressants. Fortunately, this passed before the pills even had had a chance to kick in. Discussing what I'm going through with friends and colleagues has helped me though- it makes you realise that you're not going mad! I've also been taking herbal tablets 'Menoserene' which seem to help.
I've never had kids and was worried that I'd regret it once I could no longer have them. Whilst it still makes me a little sad, looking at society today I think it was probably for the best.
I think I've been quite lucky after reading some of the comments on here. I still feel young; love going to gigs and have great days out with the girls. Life shouldn't stop when you hit the menopause- it just changes. Above all, don't despair; you're not alone.

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bookworm58 said on 20 September 2011

i am almost 53 years old,and been going through meno for nearly 2 years,it is hell,insomnia,shaking,anxiety,on hrt but that i don't think is helping,on anti depressants and life is not what it used to be,i don't know how much more i can take.

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User76556 said on 17 August 2011

My last 2 periods have been 2 or 3 days in duration and were about 6 weeks apart! I'm approaching 41, could this be an early onset of the menopause? If it is I better hurry up and try for my 2nd baby!

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JBOORMAN said on 02 June 2011

I am 46 years old, for the past year I have experienced more frequent periods ie every 14-18 days, vaginal dryness and now a total lack of libedo, am I pre menopausal, my mother started when she was my age and I believe had increased periods instead of less. Any answers would be welcome, also any information on dealing with these 'symptoms'.

Regards

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nelly1369 said on 01 June 2011

please can anyone help me i am 42 for six years i have suffered very bad panic attacts to which i take antidepressants my periods are almost none exsitant i get realy bad headaches problems sleeping sex is an effort my hair keeps comeing out i have had bloodtests done at the doctors for the menopause but they came back normal could the test be wronge am i menopausal please i feel like i am cracking up help

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caroline200 said on 19 March 2011

I started reading when the menopause kicked in and recommend 'Your Change Your Choice' for an over all view.
I take Soya and isoflavines which have really helped with controlling the flushes and, as a bonus, have improved my skin and hair too!
I think taking charge of what's happening is important as stress increases the flushes.
The symptems are a pain but it is ultimately something liberating that is happening! Be positive if possible.

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teej1510 said on 01 February 2011

I have not been to the Doctors for confirmation yet but I haven't had a period for over a year now. I have just turned 44 . I did a self test at home which confirmed what I already knew or guessed... back in 2008 I went through a very bad patch of depression which lasted for over a year. I assumed that was the reason my periods became irregular , which they never were . I think I had about 4 periods that year then they stopped just like that.
I don't feel any different as such but have lost my libido. I blamed the depression for that. Though it is said that menopause is not a factor in loss of libido. I am just wondering what to expect next. As for painful joints I have always had a problem there, feeling rather old before my time.

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tooyoung said on 06 January 2011

Try being 20yrs old and finding out you've been going through the menopause since you was 15. Its the most embarassing thing to happen at my age and i will never have a child of my own.

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Solnishko said on 18 October 2010

My wife had her last period a year ago, at 43 she thought this was a little young for the menopause. She went to the GP who in an examination that lasted less than 3minutes from walking in the door to leaving just said "it's the menopause, look it up on the internet"!

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nabob said on 08 September 2010

I am quite worried at the moment and any advice would be most welcome please. I had a period in July 2009 aged 48 and up till then they had been normal since I started them at aged 11 no problems. My mum went through the menopause in her early 40's again with no problems. I did not have another period until May 2010 when I had a very light loss. Between July and October 2009 my only menopausal symptoms were feeling more hot than usual during the night but not sweating. After May 10 I did not have another period until August when all hell let loose and I had the heaviest and longest period ever. I have started again yesterday and am literally changing tampons due to flooding every 2 hours with no easing off during the night. I feel physically drained with sore breasts and stomach cramps. My husband is all for sending me to my GP but what can they do - surely this is all related to the menopause. I thought I had got let off lightly but clearly not - HELP !

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midnight_poison said on 17 July 2010

i have no symptoms off menopause im 51 and this is the only period ive missed

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redhed36 said on 07 July 2010

I have just been told by my Doctor today that I am well into my menopause (had the follicle blood test thing). I am just 41 and so am concerned but he said to take calcium supplements and go for a bone density scan in 10 years...there is so much to find out about and it has been a bit of a shock to be honest...I don't know where to start!!!

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redhed36 said on 07 July 2010

I have just been told by my Doctor today that I am well into my menopause (had the follicle blood test thing). I am just 41 and so am concerned but he said to take calcium supplements and go for a bone density scan in 10 years...there is so much to find out about and it has been a bit of a shock to be honest...I don't know where to start!!!

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met2008 said on 07 July 2010

I have just had a period after 20months and I thought that once you hadnt had one for 12months that was it , can anyone advise why this has happened.

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carolynb said on 04 February 2010

Hello i have been menopausel for about a year now can anyone give me some advice on how to cope with greasey hair, my hair has always been dry, now i have to wash it every morning. Any advice would be most welcome.Carolyn.

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Mukesh Raghav said on 19 October 2009

The Menopause is really mysterious , no doubt it is physiological , but time period is ranging from 40 to 52 years in different parts of the world. Osteoporesis usually don't starts immediately after it as level of oestrogen does not diminish suddenly. The cause of osteoporosis is mainly lack of oestrogen which usually take place at the time of menopause.

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hormones said on 03 August 2009

I had a bit of accident which left me partially disabled. after amost 15yrs of marriage with no warning. my husband decided to pack up and leave me while i was still very ill laying flat on the floor. he just walked out as he couldnt handle me being ill. from that time bk in 2002 when i was just 45yr old. that was the last time i saw a period. they just stopped dead, apart from one very slight bleed only for day just couple months later but nothing else since,. i had no warning etc. i had bn having hot flshes etc for mayb yr or more but still had periods. i have heard that shock sometimes can stop a period but i dont no how true. i am now just 52yr old and still never seen a period. has anyone any ideas or suggestions.I have since been diagnosed with osteoporsis which is causing some pain in joints etc, i feel i am falling apart lol. i am certainly past even thinking of having more children so that is not the reason i am asking.

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