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Symptoms - Menopause

Common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms can have a big impact on your daily life, including relationships, social life, family life and work.

It can feel different for everyone. You may have a number of symptoms or none.

Symptoms usually start months or years before your periods stop. This is called the perimenopause.

Changes to your periods

The first sign of the perimenopause is usually, but not always, a change in the normal pattern of your periods, for example they become irregular.

Eventually you'll stop having periods altogether.

Mental health symptoms

Common mental health symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include:

  • changes to your mood, like low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem
  • problems with memory or concentration (brain fog)

Physical symptoms

Common physical symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include:

  • hot flushes, when you have sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest which can make you dizzy
  • difficulty sleeping, which may be a result of night sweats and make you feel tired and irritable during the day
  • palpitations, when your heartbeats suddenly become more noticeable
  • headaches and migraines that are worse than usual
  • muscle aches and joint pains
  • changed body shape and weight gain
  • skin changes including dry and itchy skin
  • reduced sex drive
  • vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
  • recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • sensitive teeth, painful gums or other mouth problems

Non-urgent advice: See a GP or nurse if:

  • you think you have perimenopause or menopause symptoms

You can also speak to a pharmacist for advice about treatments and things you can do.

How long symptoms last

Symptoms can last for months or years, and can change with time.

For example, hot flushes and night sweats may improve, and then you may develop low mood and anxiety.

Some symptoms, such as joint pain and vaginal dryness, can carry on after your periods stop.

Important: Get help for symptoms

Getting advice early can help reduce the impact perimenopause and menopause have on your health, relationships and work.

Menopause and perimenopause if you’re using hormonal contraception

You cannot know for sure you've reached menopause if you're using hormonal contraception like the pill, IUS (hormonal coil), contraceptive implant or contraceptive injection. This is because hormonal contraception can affect your periods.

If you're taking the combined pill, you'll have monthly period-type bleeds for as long as you keep taking the pill.

The combined pill may also mask or control menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats.

If you use the progestogen-only pill, IUS, contraceptive implant or contraceptive injection, your bleeds may be irregular or stop completely for as long as you use this contraception.

This can make it hard to know when you're no longer ovulating and therefore no longer fertile.

Stopping contraception

You can stop using contraception at the age of 55, as getting pregnant naturally after this is very rare.

You’ll be advised not to take the combined pill from the age of 50. You can change to a progestogen-only pill or other method of contraception instead.

Find local contraception services.

Page last reviewed: 17 May 2022
Next review due: 17 May 2025