Menopause symptoms

The symptoms of the menopause are caused by physical and psychological changes in the body due to a decline in the function of the ovaries.

Basically, they produce lesser amounts of oestrogen and progesterone – the female sex hormones which are responsible for the menstrual cycle.

You have reached the menopause when you have had your last menstrual period.

This means that the menopause can be considered retrospectively: you enter upon it, experience a variety of symptoms and then actually reach the menopause once you have had your last period.

You are considered to be postmenopausal when 12 months have passed since your last menstrual period.

So, the menopause is a process which occurs over several years and consists of a series of stages which start with the perimenopause and progresses through to the postmenopause.

These symptoms occur over a period of several years up until the final day of your last menstrual period. A few women have no symptoms apart from the cessation of their menstrual periods, but the majority (around 8 out of 10 women) experience a range of symptoms.

Physical and emotional symptoms of the menopause

These symptoms include:

Each of these symptoms is discussed individually within this guide.

You may experience some or most of these symptoms. Every woman is different in this aspect so you may find that you experience one symptom to a greater extent than another.

For example, hot flushes are an annoyance for every woman but some women find that they are severe enough to affect their day to day lives.

These symptoms can be worse in women who have suddenly started the menopause, e.g. after surgery rather than a natural progression.

You will experience these at different times depending upon the fluctuations in your hormone levels.

The first indication of the start of the menopause is a change in the menstrual cycle. If you have had regular cycles but have noticed a change in this pattern then this is an indication that the menopause has begun.

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