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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.

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 talk to a GP?

Speak to 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