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The menopause is when a women stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. It is a natural part of ageing and usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.
Most women do experience menopausal symptoms which can be quite severe and have a significant impact on everyday activities. Common symptoms include:
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- infrequent periods
- vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- difficulty sleeping
- low mood or anxiety
- reduced sex drive
- problems with memory and concentration.
The symptoms can begin months or years before your periods stop and can last for a few years after your last period.
If you are experiencing symptoms before the age of 45 or your symptoms are troubling you, it is worth speaking to your GP. There are some treatments and lifestyle changes that your GP may suggest, including:
- hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy to help with low mood or anxiety
- a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise to improve some symptoms.
Further information about the menopause, symptoms and treatments can be found on the NHS Choices website.
Menopause Matters is a website dedicated to supporting women through the menopause. It has specialist advice for women who are going through the menopause and a support forum.
You can also watch the video below from NHS Choices on coping with the menopause.