Menopause explained

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Getting older as a woman usually means experiencing the menopause at some stage in life. Typically, this is something that happens around middle age, but it can occur earlier or later for each individual based on a range of factors.

It’s important to understand what the menopause is like so you can potentially identify when you’re going through it, as well as the specific terminology for menopause which can help you gain a better idea of what it means for you. Here, we’ve delved into some of the key information on menopause so you can gain a quick insight into the experience.


What is menopause?

Menopause is the process where a woman begins to experience less frequent periods before they stop completely, which means a woman is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. This process can be gradual, but sometimes periods can stop suddenly.

Menopause is caused by the ovaries producing less and less oestrogen, as well as no longer releasing an egg each month. Menopause can also be brought on by surgery to remove the ovaries, as well as some cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or other underlying conditions.


When will I go through the menopause?

As menopause is a natural part of the ageing process, most women will expect to start going through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. There are three stages of menopause to be aware of:

  • Perimenopause – starting around your 40s and will likely be when you start to experience irregular menstrual cycles and some menopausal symptoms.
  • Menopause – this will be when you’ve haven’t had a period for a full 12 months.
  • Post-menopause – Menopausal symptoms may start to become less prominent but there is potentially risk for other health concerns.

The average age for menopause in the UK is 51, but there are reasons why you might experience menopause earlier. Around 1 in 100 women experience menopausal symptoms before the age of 40, which is usually known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.

If you think you might be experiencing menopausal symptoms, then you can get a blood test which can be taken at home to measure your hormone levels. This can give you a simple way of confirming whether you have started the menopause and is typically offered to women within the ages of 40 and 45.


Signs and symptoms of menopause

When it comes to trying to figure out whether you’re menopausal, there are many different symptoms which can crop up together or individually that can indicate you’re experiencing the menopause.

Although these are typically thought of the negative effects of menopause, you may only have mild experiences of these symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, leading to some potential confusion, and it’s also possible to experience menopausal symptoms outside of the standard ones listed below.

The most common signs of menopause are:

  • Hot flushes
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Low mood and/or anxiety
  • Low sex drive/libido
  • Night sweats or difficultly sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex

Many of these symptoms can range from a mild inconvenience to having a severe impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. There isn’t one symptom that’s always the most severe, as everyone will experience the menopause differently, but if symptoms are bothering you then it’s worth talking to your GP, especially if you’re under 45.


Ramsay Health Care and Menopause

If you’re looking for advice about the menopause or would like a test to see whether your symptoms are a result of the menopause, Ramsay Health Care can help. We can offer menopause treatments to those who are experiencing adverse effects of menopause, which can be discussed in detail with our consultants to see if they’d be right for you.

Additionally, if you’re in the post-menopause stage and have health concerns linked to lower oestrogen levels, our consultants are here to discuss what steps can be taken to help mitigate the risks of future health conditions.

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

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