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What is the menopause?

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to conceive naturally.

Please note: Some advice, such as visiting a GP face-to-face, may not be relevant while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place

Most women go through it between the ages of 45 and 55, but symptoms can begin months before your periods stop and last for a few years afterwards.

Premature menopause, or premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), is when a woman goes through the menopause before she reaches 40. This affects around 1% of women.

What are the symptoms?

Most women experience menopause symptoms. Some can be severe and affect your everyday life.

These can include:

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • mood swings and anxiety
  • vaginal dryness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • losing interest in sex
  • difficulty remembering things and concentrating.

When should I see a GP?

Visit a GP when you are struggling with symptoms or if you are experiencing them before you are 45 years old.

A GP can usually decide if you’re menopausal after discussing them.

If you are under 45, they may do a blood test to measure your hormone levels.

What treatments are available?

There are several treatments and lifestyle changes that can help ease symptoms, such as:

  • hormone replacement therapy (HRT) including tablets, implants, creams, pessaries and gels which replace oestrogen
  • vaginal moisturisers and lubricants to ease vaginal dryness
  • clonidine – a non-hormonal medication that can help with hot flushes
  • regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet
  • stopping smoking and drinking less alcohol
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – a talking therapy that can help with anxiety and low mood.

Find more in-depth information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment:

Visit the NHS website