Every woman will we go through the menopause. It’s an unavoidable change that stops our periods and signals a natural shift in our reproductive lifecycles. Consequently, due to the symptomatic nature of ‘the change,’ it can also be a time of high anxiety and stress.
Research shows that three in four women will experience symptoms, with one in four of those women describing them as debilitating. Further studies revealed that 48% of women between the ages of 50 and 55 reported poorer levels of mental health due to their symptoms, with 25% wanting to stay at home and 30% taking sick leave to deal with the negative side effects.
This data shows us how the menopause is a real and seriousconcern for women – one that deserves the utmost care and compassion. In this blog, we’re going to look at the signs of the menopause, why greater emphasis and support is needed for women who are transitioning from one phase of their reproductive lifecycle into another, and how to manage this tumultuous period.
Every woman’s experience of the menopause is unique
Although every woman will experience the menopause, the severity of symptoms and how they’re handled is unique toevery individual. In the UK, the average menopause age is 51, with most symptoms starting between 45 and 55.
Natural menopause happens when a woman’s ovaries produce fewer egg cells, which make them less able to respond to the hormones created by the pituitary gland – specifically theFollicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and LuteinisingHormone (LH), which results in the reduced production of oestrogen and progesterone.
That said, treatments such as chemotherapy can also damage the ovaries and induce the menopause, while some women have a hysterectomy to remove the ovaries altogether,triggering the menopause that way. Regardless, the reduction in hormones – especially oestrogen – is considered the reason women become symptomatic.
So, what are the symptoms of menopause?
According to the National Health Service, some common menopause signs and symptoms include:• Night sweats• Hot flushes• Difficulty sleeping• Low mood or increased anxiety• Reduced sex drive and/or discomfort during sex• Vaginal dryness• Issues with concentration and memory• Heart palpitations
These can start months or years before a woman’s period stops, and often affect our everyday activities to varying degrees. Overall, symptoms can last for around four years(although in some cases, much longer).
The perimenopause is grossly misunderstood
The perimenopause is far less talked about or understood than the menopause. However, it starts from the beginning of menopausal symptoms to the postmenopausal stage (a twelve-month phase where a woman has no periods). Perimenopause signals the start of ‘the change,’ resulting in varying symptoms that are unpredictable and cause confusion and inconvenience.
[H3] Perimenopause symptoms• Abnormally heavy periods• Fluctuating oestrogen, causing early signs of menopause• Changes in weight and fat distribution• Confusion and irritability• Disturbed sleep• Aching joints
Although the symptoms are still mild, it’s worth learning how to recognise them to seek the help and treatments available.
The menopause matters
Perimenopause and menopause are complex, unique, and natural processes that every woman struggles with to one degree or another. However, you are not alone and there is a wealth of support available to ease your symptoms – not only for your physical health, but your mental health too. Remember, you’re not going mad, the menopause matters, and you have a right to as much support as you need.
Perimenopause and menopause support
For many women, managing the symptoms of menopause include diet and lifestyle changes. However, for women who are seeking relief or help managing some of the more severe symptoms of menopause, there are various treatments available to you.
Ultimately, this transition phase is a personal journey and one that needs managing however you see fit. Always seek support from your doctor, loved ones, and even your work. Ask for any policies they have on the menopause, and suggest they incorporate one within their health and safety scope to ensure the women of their organisation have access to information around provisions, reasonable adjustments, and any other assistance.