Most women will have some symptoms around menopause and perimenopause. The length and seriousness of these symptoms can vary from woman to woman.
Symptoms can start 7 years before your periods stop. This is known as 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 10 have symptoms for up to 12 years.
Changes to your periods
You may notice a change in the normal pattern of your periods. But many people have regular 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. Skipped periods are common - you may not have them for months at a time.
After a while, you'll stop having periods altogether.
If your periods are irregular, you should also check if you are pregnant if you have been having sex without contraception.
About 8 in 10 women have symptoms for some time before and after their periods stop.
These can have a serious impact for some women.
If you go through menopause suddenly, your symptoms may be worse. For example, as a result of cancer treatment or surgical removal of your ovaries.
Common symptoms include:
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- difficulty sleeping
- lack of energy
- low mood or anxiety
- problems with memory or concentration
- vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort
- reduced sex drive (libido)
- discomfort during sex
- irregular periods
- heart palpitations (a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart)
- recurring UTIs
- loss of muscle
- weight gain
- joint aches and pains
You may also have irregular periods or other period-related symptoms.
This may include changes in:
- frequency - longer or shorter cycles
- duration - how many days your period lasts for
- flow - lighter or heavier periods
Menopause increases your risk of developing other problems, such as osteoporosis (weak bones).
When to get help
Talk to your GP if you're finding your symptoms particularly difficult. They will be able to help you and can recommend menopause and perimenopause treatments.
If you have any bleeding from the vagina after menopause, contact your GP, this could be postmenopausal bleeding.
Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP even if:
- it's only happened once
- there's only a small amount of blood, spotting, or pink or brown discharge
- you do not have any other symptoms
- you're not sure if it's blood
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE