About the Menopause

The menopause explained.

What is the Menopause?

The menopause is when your periods have stopped and your ovaries are no longer producing the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

You reach menopause officially when you haven’t had a period for over 12 consecutive months. On average this happens around the age of 51, but it’s common for menopause to happen earlier than this.

80% of women experiencing menopause will have symptoms due to the body reacting to the lack of hormones and the many benefits they bring. Each woman’s menopause will be unique to her. There are many possible symptoms – 34 recognised symptoms and likely more too. They may last for only a few months or occur for several years after you’ve stopped your periods.

There are future health conditions that become more likely after menopause (if no treatment is taken), such as the bone weakening disease osteoporosis, and diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the transitional phase before the official menopause point in time (12 months with no periods).

In the lead up to menopause, your periods may start to change in terms of their regularity, duration or flow and/or you may notice some menopause symptoms emerge. Symptoms can come and go, and perimenopause is generally a time of great fluctuation for your hormones and therefore how you feel from day to day. 

Essentially, perimenopause symptoms are the same as menopause symptoms because they’re all down to changing and declining hormone levels.

Some of the symptoms that often (but not always) emerge first in perimenopause are changes to your sleeping pattern, feeling anxious or having mood swings, and feeling more tired than usual.

Perimenopause usually begins in your mid-late 40s, and it lasts on average between 4 and 10 years before the menopause time marker of 12 months with no periods. For 1 in 100 women, perimenopause happens under the age of 40 and for more than 1 in 1000 women, it will happen before they are 30.

Many women choose to treat their perimenopause by taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and you don’t need to wait until your periods have stopped to begin HRT.

What is postmenopause?

Postmenopause just means after your menopause, so once it’s been 12 months without a period (your official menopause), for the rest of your life after this, you are postmenopausal.

If you’re not taking hormone treatments for your menopause, you will live with low levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. And around 75% of women in the UK do just that.

Many women appreciate that they don’t have to have periods anymore but there are some health implications of living with low hormones. After menopause, there is an increased risk of certain conditions developing down the line linked with a lack of hormones, especially oestrogen, such as:

  • the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis
  • cardiovascular disease (disease of the heart and blood vessels)
  • type 2 diabetes
  • depression
  • dementia

To be at your best in postmenopause, it is crucial to eat well, sleep well, take regular exercise (a mixture of aerobic, weight-bearing and strength training), limit smoking and alcohol, and keep stress to a minimum wherever possible.

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If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please book a consultation.

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What is a surgical (or medically induced) menopause?

For some women, their menopause does not happen naturally because medical interventions are needed that subsequently trigger a menopause (either permanently or temporarily).

If you have your ovaries removed, (for example, as part of a hysterectomy) or you have treatments that ‘switch off’ your ovaries (for example certain cancer treatments) you will enter menopause because your ovaries are no longer there or not producing sex hormones.

When this happens, symptoms are often more sudden and severe than if menopause occurred naturally. If your ovaries have been removed, menopause is permanent and it is important to discuss taking HRT with your healthcare team, especially if you’re under 51 years.

If you have had treatments for cancer that have stopped or blocked your production of oestrogen, your menopause may be permanent or temporary depending on how long you have treatment for and whether your periods return or not after you stop treatment.

Do you have questions relating to menopause?

Our support centre is full of useful information including a list of symptoms and treatments and frequently asked questions to help inform and put your mind at rest.

Support Centre
Menopause Symptoms

The better-known symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause are hot flushes and night sweats but in actual fact any symptom emerging around the perimenopause can be down to declining hormone levels. Symptoms are essentially the body withdrawing to these hormones, specifically oestrogen and testosterone. Every organ in our body is rich in oestrogen receptors, from our eyes to our nails, skin and blood vessels so even dry eyes or hair loss starting in the perimenopause could be due to this. Other symptoms can include insomnia, irritability, low mood, anxiety, problems with memory and concentration, bladder weakness, loss of libido, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Need additional help or support? Book an appointment with Dr Summerhill today.

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Your menopause questions answered.

Our support centre is full of useful information and frequently asked questions to help inform and put your mind at rest.


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