Most women will have some symptoms around the menopause. The length and seriousness of these symptoms varies from woman to woman.
Symptoms can start a few months or years before your periods stop. This is known as the perimenopause. Symptoms can also last for some time after your periods stop.
Most symptoms last around 4 years from your last period. But around 1 in every 10 women have symptoms for up to 12 years.
If you go through the menopause suddenly, your symptoms may be worse. For example, as a result of cancer treatment or surgical removal of your ovaries.
Changes to your periods
The first sign of the menopause is usually a change in the normal pattern of your periods.
You may start having either unusually light or heavy periods.
The frequency of your periods may also be affected. You may have them every 2 or 3 weeks, or you may not have them for months at a time.
After a while, you'll stop having periods altogether.
Common menopausal symptoms
About 8 in every 10 women have symptoms for some time before and after their periods stop.
These can have a serious impact for some women.
Common symptoms include:
- hot flushes – short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest, which can make your skin red and sweaty
- night sweats – hot flushes that happen at night
- difficulty sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day
- a reduced sex drive (libido)
- problems with memory and concentration
- vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
- mood changes, such as low mood or anxiety
- palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable
- joint stiffness, aches and pains
- reduced muscle mass
- recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs)
The menopause can also increase your risk of developing other problems, such as weak bones (osteoporosis).
Talk to your GP if you're finding your symptoms particularly difficult. They will be able to help you and can recommend treatments.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE