When does menopause start?

6th July 2020

The menopause is the name used to describe the process at which women stop producing certain hormones. It’s a part of the natural ageing process and the menopause indicates the end of a woman’s child-bearing years.

When does the menopause start?

Like a lot of things in life, the menopause is different for all women. However, it typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average woman going through menopause at 51 years old. Some women (around 1 in 100) will go through a premature menopause, which means a menopause before the age of 40.

The actual process of the menopause is when your body’s natural oestrogen levels start to decline and you may no longer be able to get pregnant naturally. The main thing you might notice when your body starts to go through the menopause is irregular periods (that will eventually stop) but there are a number of other associated symptoms. Common signs include hot flushes, reduced sex drive, mood swings, vaginal dryness and difficulty sleeping.

What causes menopausal symptoms?

The role that oestrogen plays in a woman’s body is vast and varied, and some elements, you may not even notice until your oestrogen starts to drop.

Oestrogen plays an important role in your menstrual cycle, and is the hormone responsible for ovulation. So this is why you may find it difficult to get pregnant the older you get, as your oestrogen begins to decline.

Its role in sex is not just about menstruation and pregnancy either; oestrogen helps to keep you naturally lubricated which is why many menopausal women experience vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex.

The changes happening in your body can have a number of other unpleasant knock-on effects and there are actually 34 symptoms of menopause to look out for.

Diagnosing the menopause

Because it’s a natural occurrence that every woman will go through, the menopause can normally be detected quite easily based on symptoms and age. However, if you’re under the age of 45 when you experience symptoms then it’s worth talking to your GP about it. Blood tests are available to test your hormones if you’re not of a typical menopausal age.

Treatments for the menopause

Just because everyone goes through it, that doesn’t mean you have to go through it untreated or that it’s an easy thing to go through. Always discuss the options with your doctor and consider some lifestyle changes to improve certain symptoms.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be extremely effective at helping women through the menopause. Available as either tablet or patch form, HRT aims to replenish your falling hormone levels to ward off symptoms. There are a number of popular brands available such as Elleste and Zumenon.

You could also consider specific treatment options to target certain symptoms. There are vaginal lubricating creams to treat vaginal dryness, Nytol herbal tablets to help you get to sleep, KY Jelly to make sex more comfortable, 4head sticks to treat headaches and you may benefit from speaking to someone if you’re struggling with anxiety or low mood.