Menopause: the facts

Every woman will go through the menopause, but each experience of it is different.

Around 70% of women experience the most common symptoms of hot flushes and night sweats

It doesn’t happen at a particular age or last for a fixed period of time, and it can cause a variety of different symptoms, both physical and emotional. The menopause can be an unsettling time in a woman’s life, while some women go through it with no problems.

The menopause is the time when a woman’s monthly periods stop. It happens because as women age they slowly run out of eggs. Some scientists believe this happens to protect women and their children from the dangers of late childbearing.

When will I go through the menopause?

The average age women go through the menopause is 52, but a woman could start to experience menopausal symptoms between the ages of 45 and 55.

Medical conditions can cause the menopause to happen much earlier, sometimes in a woman’s 20s or, in extreme cases, in childhood. This is known as premature ovarian failure (POF).

Menopause symptoms

Changes in hormone levels can produce different symptoms. It is estimated that around two thirds of women experience the most common symptoms of hot flushes and night sweats. But some women also report psychological symptoms, including depression, tiredness, lack of energy and a reduced interest in sex.

Long-term effects of the menopause include increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

Find out how to tell if it's the menopause if you take the contraceptive pill.

Osteoporosis after the menopause

Bone strength depends on bone tissue density and structure. Reduced amounts of minerals in the bone and slower production or replacement of bone cells weakens bones.

This happens to everybody as they age but the change is faster in women after the menopause. This is why one in three women  over-50 has osteoporosis compared with only one in twelve men.

Osteoporosis increases the risk of breaking bones, especially those in the wrist, hip or spine. One in seven British women breaks a hip after the menopause.

Read how to prevent osteoporosis.

Heart disease after the menopause

Cardiovascular disease is any disease of the heart or blood vessels, including heart attacks and strokes, usually caused by blocked arteries. It is the most common cause of death in women over 60 and there is evidence to suggest that women are more likely to get blocked arteries after the menopause.

Menopause relief

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help protect women from osteoporosis, replacing the oestrogen lost during the menopause and, therefore, protecting bones.

HRT is also good at controlling menopausal symptoms, but it can slightly increase the risk of developing conditions such as breast cancer and deep vein thrombosis.

Changing your diet and doing more exercise can also help with symptoms of the menopause.

Now read how HRT can help you cope with menopause symptoms.

Page last reviewed: 18/09/2012

Next review due: 18/09/2014

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 35 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

eliza1961 said on 05 June 2013

Hi, glad I found this place, I am suddenly after a year and a half of being so very happy with my new partner doubting my relationship, in the last week and a half I've started being very tearful, overthinking and panicking about all there is to panic about in life! I have been treated for many years for depression but as I was so happy stopped my anti depressants about four weeks ago thinking I didn't need them. I also know I'm going through menopause stage as I have not had a period for about four months and before that they were very staggered. No relationship is perfect and we have had our ups and downs but it's the first time since my divorce that I could be in a relationship and not over think things, life just went along so happily but now I keep reverting back to it must be my relationship? Anyone else feel this way, please help :)

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Marian Moss said on 19 April 2013

My periods stopped 2 years ago, I am 48, yet my GP still says I am not menopausal. My partner died 17 months ago after a 2 year battle with pancreatic cancer so they put the lack of periods down to stress. I am also getting migraine headaches, at least once per week. They wipe me out for 24 hours. Add into the mix the fact that I have polycystic ovary syndrome and sufferers of this condition are likely to go through the menopause early I am convinced that I have been through the menopause. I'd just like to know so that I have a clue to why I get these headaches.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Robert Patrick said on 20 December 2012

Like women, men also suffer andropause. which is male menopause.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

hotpepper1 said on 29 October 2012

just a quick comment , i stopped drinking coffee a few weeks ago which stopped the anxiety and ive started taking vitabitotics (menopace) i feel like a teenager this week with no aching joints or muscles or that horrible fuzzy spaced out feeling, im sleeping better and waking up more refreshed, the hot flushes are still there but im going to give it time ive only been talking the menopace for less than 2 weeks. god i felt like a ninety year old woman a couple of weeks ago it was horrendous, im 50 x

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

sue1971 said on 16 December 2008

i'm only in my 30's but for 6 years i'v not had a good sex drive & i won't to no wat courses it & i'v got a new partner as well there but i'm too scared to have sex with him there as years ago it was great couldn't get enough of it but now it's diffrent.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

Menopause

The menopause is marked by the ending of menstruation (when a woman's periods stop), and changes in the hormones. As a result of these hormonal changes, many women have physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats and irritability. In this video, family doctor Dawn Harper talks about how to ease the symptoms of the menopause, whether to take HRT, and more.

Media last reviewed: 06/08/2014

Next review due: 06/08/2016

Take a LifeCheck

Link to NHS LifeCheck.

A few moments spent now could add years to your life.

Women and heart disease

Heart disease is the biggest cause of death for British women. Use these nine tips to protect yourself

Sex as you age

Find out more about having a fulfilling sex life as you get older, including information about menopause and erection problems

Menopause

Find out about HRT, early menopause, supporting your partner and how to deal with symptoms