Understand Your Menopause
Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause is a natural biological process that typically occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can happen earlier or later. The average age of menopause in the UK is around 52 years old. However, it’s important to note that every woman’s experience with menopause is unique, and the timing can vary based on factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health.
The signs and symptoms of menopause can vary in intensity and duration for each individual. Some women may experience only a few symptoms, while others may have a combination of several.
It’s important to remember that not all women will experience every symptom, and the severity can vary. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect you may be going through menopause, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management strategies tailored to your individual needs.
Some women may experience generalised muscle aches or joint discomfort during menopause. These symptoms can be attributed to hormonal changes and the natural ageing process.
Bladder infections and weakness
The decrease in oestrogen levels can affect the urinary tract, leading to an increased susceptibility to urinary tract infections. Some women may also experience weakened bladder control, leading to urinary incontinence or increased frequency of urination.
Bone and joint pain
Oestrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health, and its decline during menopause can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Some women may experience bone and joint pain, stiffness, or discomfort.
Brain fog/trouble focusing
Some women may experience difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, or a feeling of mental fog during menopause. This can impact cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities.
Fluctuations in hormone levels can cause breast tenderness or increased sensitivity in some women.
Changes in periods
Menstrual cycles may become irregular, with variations in the length of time between periods. Periods may also become heavier or lighter than usual, or women may experience skipped periods altogether.
Menopause can be associated with digestive issues such as bloating, indigestion, or nausea. These symptoms can be related to hormonal changes and altered metabolism.
Dry and itchy skin
Oestrogen helps maintain skin moisture, and its decline can result in dryness, itchiness, and changes in skin texture. Skin may become thinner and more prone to irritation.
Hair and nail changes/loss
Some women may experience thinning hair, hair loss, or changes in hair texture during menopause. Nails may also become brittle or more prone to breakage.
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can trigger headaches or migraines in some individuals. These headaches may vary in intensity and frequency.
Hot flashes are one of the most well-known symptoms of menopause. They are characterised by sudden feelings of warmth, often accompanied by sweating, cold shivers, and red splotches or a rash on the skin. Hot flashes can range from mild to severe and can last from a few seconds to several minutes.
Increased body odour
Hormonal changes can affect the sweat glands, leading to an increase in body odour or changes in body scent.
Lack of concentration
Difficulty staying focused, easily getting distracted, or experiencing mental fuzziness can be common during menopause.
Lack of motivation
Decreased energy levels, combined with other symptoms and lifestyle changes, can contribute to a sense of reduced motivation or drive.
Loss of libido (sexual drive)
Changes in hormone levels can contribute to a decreased interest in sex or a reduction in sexual desire. Vaginal dryness and discomfort can also impact sexual functioning and satisfaction.
Mood swings, depression, and anxiety
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can impact mood regulation and emotional well-being. Women may experience mood swings, irritability, increased anxiety, or even symptoms of depression.
Some women may experience sensations of a racing or irregular heartbeat, also known as palpitations. These episodes can be brief and may cause feelings of anxiety or discomfort.
Many women experience disruptions in their sleep patterns during menopause. This can include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat.
Decreased levels of oestrogen can lead to changes in the vaginal tissues, resulting in dryness, itching, and discomfort during intercourse. This can also contribute to an increased risk of urinary tract infections.
Metabolic changes, combined with hormonal fluctuations, can make it more challenging to maintain or lose weight during menopause. Weight gain, particularly around the abdomen, is common.
Understanding your menopause
Our specialist information on Menopause is designed to help you better understand the changes your body is going through and to help you make the right decisions when it comes to managing it.