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When does menopause start?

For most women, menopause generally starts between the ages of 45 and 55; although some women may experience menopause earlier than this. In the UK, the average age of menopause is 51.

When does menopause start?

The transition from pre-menopausal to post-menopausal is caused by declining production of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in the ovaries resulting in the menstrual cycle changes and physical and mental symptoms that women experience during this time. The term “menopause” refers to a woman’s last period and the period leading up to this is called the ”perimenopause”. 

The menopause transition and post-menopausal period have a significant impact on women’s short- and long-term health and well-being, so preparation before this transition begins, and early recognition of symptoms and signs can help women to get a headstart on making health and lifestyle choices to optimise their health and quality of life as they get older.

Most women are unaware of the short- and long-term effects of the declining hormone levels mentioned above. NewWoman Health seeks to help women understand the impact of this estrogen loss on their bodies and to proactively identify ways to minimise this.  A vital part of this is knowing when the peri-menopause starts. This guide will explain how to recognise its onset and how NewWoman Health can help. 

Physician Consultation and Follow-up

How do you know that menopause has started?

There is a common misconception that menopause only happens to women in their 50s. It’s important to be aware of the fact that it’s normal for menopause to begin anytime after the age of 45, and that it can start much earlier, including in the teens, 20s and 30s, although this is rare.

As estrogen levels decline, many women notice that their periods start to become irregular and the symptoms most people associate with menopause (hot flushes and sweats, for example) begin to occur. However, many women experience menopause symptoms with no change in their menstrual cycles, and symptoms may be much more varied than just hot flushes and sweats. These will be described in more detail below.

Some women stop having periods suddenly without the irregularity described above. This may happen naturally or after surgery to remove the ovaries or uterus or after certain medical treatments.

Women’s experiences of menopause may also be vastly different, with some experiencing only mild symptoms and others debilitating symptoms that severely impact their day-to-day life and overall well-being.

Common signs & symptoms of menopause

Physical symptoms:

  • Vasomotor symptoms: This is the medical term for the hot flushes and sweats that most people recognise as being typical of menopause. Many women describe a sudden feeling of heat, often in the chest, neck and face, often followed by sweating.  When this occurs at night,  the sweats may be so severe as to soak nightwear and bedclothes and interrupt sleep, leading to tiredness and irritability.
  • Palpitations: A pounding or racing heartbeat, often accompanied by a feeling of anxiety,  is another common symptom
  • Headaches: New onset or worsening of headaches or migraines may be another sign of the onset of menopause.

Mental symptoms:

  • Mood swings: This includes sudden changes in mood with no obvious cause.
  • Depression and anxiety: The start of menopause can often bring on low mood and anxiety symptoms including low self-esteem and loss of confidence.
  • Brain fog: Changes in cognitive function, including problems with concentration or memory, commonly referred to as “brain fog”, are another common symptom.

Other menopausal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Weight gain
  • Increased abdominal fat deposition
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • Changes in libido (sex drive)

Though the above symptoms can sound scary, there’s a lot that can be done to manage them. Understanding menopause, its symptoms and its implications means you can take control of your life and make choices that put you on the path to a healthy future.

Why is it important to recognise the onset of menopause?

Many women are not aware of the effects of estrogen decline. Before menopause, rates of cardiovascular disease in women are lower than in men. But when estrogen levels decline as a result of menopause, conditions such as cardiovascular disease, for example, begin to occur, or more, frequently than in men. 

Estrogen also helps to protect against osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Clinical studies show that when estrogen is given as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to women under the age of 60, or within 10 years of menopause onset, the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis is reduced. However, HRT alone is not enough. It’s important to also make healthy lifestyle choices, paying attention to diet, exercise, and mental health.

How early can menopause start?

Can menopause start in one’s ’20s or 30’s? The answer is yes. It’s estimated that premature menopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency,  affects 1% of women under 40 and 0.1% of women under 30. Premature menopause has several long-term health implications which are important to know about. 

You can find out everything you need to know about premature menopause in the next section.

Menopause Support

Treatment and support for menopause

At NewWomen Health, we offer a range of medical and lifestyle interventions that help women to manage or minimise their menopause symptoms and improve their quality and potential longevity of life in an aspirational and uplifting way.

These include:

  • Personalised medical consultations
  • Personalised one-to-one fitness and well-being advice
  • Work and life coaching
  • Psychosexual counselling
  • Skin health advice
  • One-to-one nutritional advice
  • Weight management support
  • Women’s (pelvic) health physiotherapy

Book your menopause consultation today

Take the next step to taking control of your future and book a consultation with our specialist team today. Our doctors and experts will help you with a pragmatic, personalised plan to optimise your life and make your menopause transition a period of opportunity. 

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You are not alone. As a local example, in Manchester over 46% of council employees are female and over 40 years old. In a CIPD survey (2019) over 30% of women said they were unable to work because of menopausal symptoms.

Only 25% said they could tell their manager the real reason for their absence. The Council account for nearly 7% of all employment in Manchester. They implemented a new Menopause policy in March 2022. CIPD survey | Manchester Council Menopause Policy | CIPD Manchester

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Our team of menopause specialists have extensive experience treating and supporting women impacted by the peri-menopause and menopause. Their advice and expertise will support you to make informed decisions for your menopause and overall quality of life and well-being. Simply select your preferred menopause specialist by going to our menopause specialists page and arrange a consultation today.