Frequently Asked Questions

Do any of these answer your question?


What are the main menopause symptoms?

Most women would say that night sweats, hot flushes and mood swings are typical but really every woman?s menopause is unique. Other common symptoms are forgetfulness (and, don?t worry, your memory will come back), aching joints and weight gain.

Some women complain of heavy irregular periods, feeling bloated or abdominal pain but these can also be symptoms of something more serious so, if you suffer these, you should see your doctor without delay.

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How do I know I?m having the menopause?

The menopause is the date of your last period so you can only be sure you?ve had it when you look back and haven?t had a period for a year. A blood test (via your GP) or urine test (done at home like a pregnancy test) can be done but will only give an indication that you are in the period leading up to your menopause.

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How long do the symptoms last?

Around 20% of women avoid any significant symptoms at all ? luckily for them ? but 2-5 years is fairly typical for women who do have symptoms.

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Does HRT stop you going through the menopause?

Hormone replacement therapy aims to reduce menopausal symptoms. There is evidence that it can (in many cases) help with hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and insomnia and may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bowel cancer. But, on the other hand, many women suffer side-effects from taking HRT, such as bloating, weight gain and mood swings.

There is no evidence, however, that it maintains ?youthful? looks and it cannot reverse the underlying end of fertility, which the menopause marks.

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What age do you go through the menopause?

The average age for the menopause is 51 (although symptoms may start earlier) but reaching the menopause before the age of 45 is called ?early menopause? and before 40 is called ?premature menopause?. Late menopause can occur but by the age of 54, 80% of women have stopped their periods.

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Why am I putting on weight around my waist?

At the menopause, declining oestrogen levels change where your body stores fat and unfortunately it accumulates around your middle, rather than on your hips and buttocks. But don?t crash diet! Fat is where your post-menopausal body makes oestrogen (along with the adrenal glands) and low oestrogen increases the risk of osteoporosis. What your body needs is a reasonable balance of oestrogen – so a few curves are good!

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What can I eat to help?

There is strong anecdotal evidence that Asian women suffer far fewer menopausal symptoms than women in the West ? this may be attributable to the amount of soya eaten in Asia.

Soya is certainly one of the menopausal ?superfoods?, plants that contain phytoestrogens (plant chemicals which are thought to help through the menopause, by balancing the oestrogen in your body). Other great ?superfoods? are beans, lentils, seeds and some fruits and vegetables. Eating ?wholefoods? and so plenty of ?natural? fibre is important too.

By trial and error, you may also discover that certain foods and drinks make your symptoms worse. Caffeine and alcohol are frequent culprits; try cutting them out for a few weeks.

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Why have I lost my confidence?

If you perceive your value to be solely as a lover and mother, your fears will be self-fulfilling. Look around for positive role models in your family, your community and the world at large, for women who have shown how the menopause can be the start of a new chapter in life. Remember that post-menopausal women don?t lose their femininity or attractiveness; they develop a special appeal based on confidence and wisdom.

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Why am I so forgetful?

Loss of memory is a normal menopausal symptom. Don?t be unduly concerned; your memory should come back.

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What complementary health treatments could help?

Many menopausal women find homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine (including acupuncture), herbal medicine, aromatherapy and Bach flower remedies helpful. Although this is not an exhaustive list, we always recommend that you ask all practitioners to explain their qualifications, how their practices are regulated, and what they can do for you.