Right now, it may feel like you’ll never make it through the menopause. For some of us, this journey began in our 30s and we’re still feeling the symptoms at 55.
Whether you’re struggling with itchy skin, painful joints, mood swings, or vaginal dryness, we know that everyone's menopause is different, and we are here to listen and support you along your menopause journey.
We won't pretend to know how your menopause feels. But we promise to listen and you’ll find guidance on our new Menopause Hub every step of the way, helping you navigate perimenopause through to post-menopause.
Struggling with low libido? Yes, dwindling oestrogen levels can reduce your sex drive. Other menopause symptoms, like night sweats, hot flushes, insomnia, fatigue, and depression are all linked to low libido, which makes sense when you think about it!
If your sex drive is getting you down, there might be some ways to help. A study found that those who kept their stress levels in check and exercised frequently reported greater sexual desire.
Vaginal dryness can cause pain and discomfort.
Your vaginal lining becomes thinner and dryer during menopause because your body doesn’t produce as much oestrogen as before, which can mean your vagina stops secreting its natural lubricant. It can leave you feeling sensitive, dry, or inflamed.
It might be that a good lubricant is all you need but it is always worth talking to your GP before trying anything new, especially on sensitive areas!
Hot flushes are one of the more notorious menopause symptoms.
These sudden, intense feelings of warmth are thought to be due to changes in the part of your brain that regulates your temperature.
Your diet can have some effect on your hot flushes. Avoid triggers like alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods if you’re looking to stave them off.
Soya and flaxseeds (linseeds) are a great source of plant oestrogens which lightly mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body and can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes in some women.
The menopause isn’t an instant “switch”. You might experience abnormal periods long before they finally stop. In the months or years of perimenopause. Your periods might be:
If your abnormal periods don’t bother you, you should be fine to let the perimenopause take its course. This “slowing down” is a natural part of the process. However, if you find them uncomfortable, you can speak to your GP.
Did you know that menopause can affect your bones and joints, too?
About 40% of people report painful joints during this time.
This is because oestrogen helps to reduce inflammation and maintain bone density. It’s estimated that you’ll lose up to 10% of your bone density in the first five years of menopause.
If you feel able, taking low-impact exercise like swimming or light stretching like yoga may help to maintain your mobility and soothe sore joints.
These are very common alongside the menopause. They may be down to your fluctuating hormones – making you feel irrational or out of control at times.
Equally, they’re an understandable reaction to all the symptoms (and more) that we’ve talked about.
Controlling your mood may be easier said than done, but try to:
If you’re experiencing a continuous low for 2 weeks or more, speak to your GP – it could be a sign of depression.
If you’re worried about your immediate safety, call NHS Direct on 111
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The menopause may be inevitable, but there’s a lot you can do to manage your symptoms.
These simple statistics will help you get your head around what’s going on inside your body.
Menopause is the stage of life where your periods stop.
It happens as your estrogen levels decrease with age, and everyone who has a period will eventually experience menopause.
You’re officially classed as menopausal 12 months after your last period.
The time before menopause is called perimenopause, and you might experience signs like:
a few months or years before your periods stop.
Menopause affects everyone in different ways. Most people experience changes for a few years before, during, and after menopause.
On average, perimenopause lasts about 4 years. Then, you may experience postmenopausal signs for a few years more.
In total, this transition lasts for about 7 years - though anywhere from 4 years to 14 years is usual.
Again, everyone is different. But your periods are likely to stop between the ages of 45 and 55.
Menopause is considered early if you’re younger than 45 - speak to your GP if you’re noticing signs before then.
Your ovaries stop releasing eggs and your levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone begin to drop. Low estrogen is responsible for many of the common menopause signs.
The body then starts to produce more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) as a response to its low estrogen levels.
Because your body stops producing eggs, you are no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
These hormonal changes can also trigger a whole range of physical and emotional symptoms. Everyone experiences different signs, at different times, and to different degrees - so we can’t say exactly what’s in store for you.
The most common signs of menopause are irregular periods, hot flushes, night sweats, and changes in your mood.
Hot flushes are sudden feelings of warmth. They’re caused by hormonal fluctuations and you may suddenly feel very hot and sweaty for a few minutes at a time.
During menopause you might feel anxious, down, or more irritable than before. You may also feel “foggy” or have problems with your memory.
Muscle and joint pain, bladder problems, hair thinning, and heart palpitations can all be associated with menopause, too.
Hormonal changes can also impact your libido (sex drive) and sexual behaviours. Your vagina thins out and produces less natural lubrication, so sex may feel dryer or cause some discomfort.
But this doesn’t have to be the end of your sex life! There are ways to keep you feeling comfortable and confident in the bedroom through menopause.
Usually, it’s just a case of your symptoms stopping.
You won’t have had a period for at least 12 months (but most likely longer), and your changes have eased.
Maybe you’re sleeping better, your mood feels more stable, or you can focus more easily than you could during menopause.
But, remember: you’ve just been through a challenging and hormonal time. It’s okay not to “snap back”, or to have a different outlook on your body and health.
Whatever your menopause looks like, we’re here to listen.