Symptoms - Menopause

Most women will have some symptoms around menopause. The length and seriousness of these symptoms can vary from woman to woman.

Symptoms can start a few months or 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 every 10 women have symptoms for up to 12 years.

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.

Changes to your periods

The first sign of 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.

Read more about periods

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
  • night sweats
  • difficulty sleeping
  • 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
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • heart palpitations (a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart)
  • recurring UTIs
  • lack of energy
  • 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 can also increase 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 treatments.

If you have any bleeding from the vagina after menopause, this could be postmenopausal bleeding.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 19 May 2022