This is a subject very close to my heart. I started getting menopausal symptoms at the age of 40 and, more than 10 years later, I am still getting them and I am not even officially menopausal yet. For many people, it’s a long road and one that still isn’t talked about very much, although there has been much more media coverage recently with high profile celebrities sharing their stories and parliamentary campaigns to reduce the cost of medication.
When I talk about women, I am referring to those assigned female at birth. People of all genders can experience menopause and I want to include everyone in the conversation.
As women near the end of the reproductive stage of their lives, the levels of reproductive hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone decline. There are hormone receptors in cells throughout the body which is why symptoms are so widespread and so variable. Every person’s experience will be different.
Menopause is not a medical condition; it’s a natural transitional phase. The menopause itself only lasts for a day – the day12 months after your last period. After that, you are post-menopausal.
The average age of natural menopause is 51, but this varies considerably. The perimenopause occurs during the years running up to the menopause. During this time, a woman will still be having periods alongside menopausal symptoms. For most women, this happens from their mid 40s onwards. However, it can happen much earlier and many people do not realise their symptoms are due to the perimenopause.
Some of the most common symptoms are mood swings, anxiety, disturbed sleep, bladder issues (eg increased frequency), vaginal dryness and, of course, hot flushes and night sweats. For a full list of menopausal symptoms click here.
The saying goes “a problem shared is a problem halved” and so, inspired by a BBC documentary on the menopause, I set up a local Menopause Cafe so people can share their experiences. We try to meet every couple of months and vary the location, day and time to give maximum flexibility. We have a Facebook page and private group (see below). All are welcome – you don’t have to be menopausal to join us.
Below I am sharing some of my favourite resources if you would like to delve deeper.
If you would like any further information or resources, or have any suggestions on how I could improve this blog, please let me know.
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