What is the menopause, how can you spot the symptoms and what age does it start?

MENOPAUSE is not the most pleasant experience, but some women suffer from more symptoms than others.

But what can you expect to happen and when does it typically begin? We've got all the details…

What is the menopause and what age does it usually start?

Menopause is a natural part of ageing, which usually happens when a woman is between the age of 45 and 55.

In the UK, the average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51.

It occurs when oestrogen levels in the body start to decline.

During this time periods become less frequent or they can suddenly stop, and after menopause occurs women will be unable to become pregnant naturally.

Around one in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause.

Many celebrities have spoken out about their own experiences, such as Zoe Ball, who said she was "menopausal and hot and hairy".

What are the signs and symptoms of menopause?

The severity of menopausal symptoms can vary depending on the individual.

They can range from mild to significantly interrupting your daily routine.

Menopausal symptoms can start months or years before your periods stop, and can last until four years or longer after your last period.

Symptoms include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Changing or irregular periods
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Anxiety and loss of confidence
  • Low mood, irritability and depression
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex
  • Reduced libido (sex drive)
  • Problems with concentration or memory
  • Weight gain
  • Bladder control

Is there a treatment for menopause?

If your menopausal symptoms are causing you discomfort or occur before the age of 45, your GP may be able to help.

In severe cases they can offer:

  1. Hormone Replacement Treatment to be administered through tablets, implants, gels or skin patches and help to replace oestrogen.
  2. Vaginal creams or lubricants for vaginal dryness
  3. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which can help with anxiety

What causes menopause?

Menopause occurs when the body’s sex hormones change, and this occurs naturally as you age.

Your ovaries reduce the amount of oestrogen produced and will stop releasing an egg each month.

There is no clear cause as to why early menopause happens before the age of 45.

Sometimes it can be triggered by surgeries such as some breast cancer treatments or when the ovaries are removed, or even from medical conditions such as Down’s syndrome.


What is Lorraine's M Word campaign?

Lorraine Kelly launched her M word campaign to break taboos around menopause.

To kick-off the drive, Lorraine herself was interviewed on her own show about her experience of the menopause.

Writing for The Sun, Lorraine explained that menopause is not a punchline to a joke — and needs to be taken more seriously.

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