So how do you know if you are entering the menopause or not?
It is important to realise that any symptoms you are experiencing may not be the sign of the menopause but of an underlying medical condition.
So visit your GP to check if you are in the early stages of the menopause or have developed an illness or disease.
If you are under 40 and notice any signs such as hot flushes, night sweats, irregular periods or anxiety then you may be experiencing a premature menopause.
This is a condition which occurs in women in their 30’s although it can develop in women in their 20’s. It is also known as an ‘early menopause’ as normal menopause does not usually start until a woman reaches her late 40’s or 50’s.
If you have undergone a hysterectomy in your 30’s or have received chemotherapy treatment for cancer then either of these can trigger an early menopause.
If your mother or other women in your family started the menopause before the age of 40 then there is a high chance you will do the same.
Find out more in our premature menopause section.
Approaching the menopause
But if this doesn’t apply to you then we will assume that you are in your 40’s and are thinking about the menopause.
It is helpful to know about the signs of an impending menopause so that you are in a better position to understand what these changes mean and how to cope with them.
Some women view this natural process as something to be feared and hated but there are steps you can take to prevent it from becoming a hated situation.
The old saying ‘forewarned is forearmed’ applies here as the more you understand about the menopause the more you can do to prepare for it.
This means making a few lifestyle changes, consider HRT and/or other treatments, talking to others and accepting that it is a natural transition in life.
Also visit our how to survive the menopause section.
Indications of the menopause
Every woman is different when it comes to the menopause. The time you enter the menopause will be different from that of your friends or other women.
But there are a few indications of the menopause which include:
- Family history
- Menstrual cycle
There is a good chance that you will start the menopause the same time that your mother and grandmother experienced theirs. So if your mother started her menopause at the age of 48 then you may do the same.
This is a good indicator but is not 100% certain. There are other factors which can affect this which include your state of health, diet, exercise and lifestyle in general.
If you notice that your menstrual periods are becoming lighter or irregular then this can be a sign. Shorter and lighter periods are often an indicator of the menopause although they may also be the sign of something else.
Some women find that their menstrual periods become heavier or that they miss the odd period.
If you have lost a great deal of weight then this may account for this change. Plus excessive exercise or chronic stress can all affect your menstrual cycle.
Other signs include:
- Heart palpitations
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
- Feeling bloated
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Bladder infections
- Loss of libido
If you experience any of these then you may be going through the menopause.
These signs occur due to changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels.
These levels fluctuate at this time but are produced in lesser amounts than before the menopause which accounts for these signs. Some women experience these signs to a greater extent than others.
These signs occur gradually in women who are going through a natural menopause. But they can be severe in women who have suddenly started the menopause as a result of a hysterectomy or chemotherapy.
Women who smoke enter the menopause at an earlier age than those who do not smoke. This is often 2 years earlier than for non-smokers.
If you have been leading a healthy lifestyle, are at a sensible weight and have a positive outlook then you are more likely to experience an easier menopause.
- Guide to Menopause
- What is the menopause?
- Female hormones and menopause
- Premature menopause
- Menopause signs
- Menopause symptoms
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Urinary changes
- Vaginal changes
- Weight gain
- Lack of interest in sex
- Aches and pains
- Skin changes
- Emotional changes
- Health risks of the menopause
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Menopause treatment
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Benefits of hormone replacement therapy
- Risks of hormone replacement therapy
- Alternatives to hormone replacement therapy
- Vaginal lubricants
- Menopause self help
- Nutritional supplements
- Complimentary therapies
- Botanical products
- How to survive the menopause
- Menopause myths
- Menopause FAQs