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What is menopause?

Menopause is a natural event in a woman's life. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a menstrual period for one year. Menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.

Menopause happens when the ovaries run out of eggs. The time before menopause is called peri-menopause. This is when the eggs are running out but have not completely ran out. Peri-menopause can last for 4-6 years.

Menopause symptoms

Most people will have some symptoms before their menstrual periods permanently stop. They will have different experiences of menopause symptoms because everyone is different.

For every 10 women:

  • two will not have any symptoms
  • six will have some symptoms
  • two will have very bad symptoms which could interfere with their life

Women with symptoms graphic

Most symptoms of menopause happen because of a drop in the hormone oestrogen.

Age

During peri-menopause a person's period will change. A persons periods may:

  • become more or less frequent
  • last more days or fewer days
  • be lighter or heavier

If a woman misses her period and she is aged 45 to 55 years, she may be approaching menopause. Missing a period could also mean that she is pregnant.

Other common symptoms include:

  • hot flushes - a sudden feeling of heat in the upper part of the body including the face and neck
  • dryness in vagina - dryness in the vagina can cause pain or discomfort during sex. This may make a woman less interested in having sex
  • mood swings - some may notice their emotions constantly changing. They may become irritable, anxious or depressed
  • insomnia - some may have trouble staying asleep or falling asleep
  • weight gain - some may experience weigh gain around the middle part of their body
  • incontinence - some may have trouble controlling their bladder
  • needing to go to the toilet more often
  • headaches - some may have headaches more often or may have worse headaches
  • forgetfulness - memory problems or a feeling of not being able to think clearly
  • low libido - may have less interest in sex
  • bone health - with age bones lose calcium and other minerals. This makes bones fragile and more likely to break or fracture.

Managing menopause symptoms

There are things that can be done to help to manage common symptoms.

Symptom Things that can help  
Hot flush
  • Limit alchohol and caffeine
  • Use a fan to help with the hot flushes
  • Dress in layers when going to sleep so that they can take layers off when they have a hot flush
  • Put an icepack under the pillow
  • Have a glass of iced water near the bed
Cool drink 
Dryness in vagina
  • Vaginal lubricants and moisturisers are available from the chemist or supermarket. They are applied inside the vagina
  • Hormonal products that come in the form of a tablet or cream. They are put in to the vagina. A prescription from a GP is needed for these products
Lubricant 
Mood swings
  • Counselling to help a person cope better
  • Stay connected with friends and family
  • doing things they enjoy
  • Being more physically active
  • Relaxation CDs online or from the local library
  • Medication to improve emotional health
Social support 
Insomnia
  • Reducing caffeine at night
  • Doing relaxing things before going to bed
  • Being physically active
Insomnia 
Weight gain
  • Eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains
  • Being more physically active
Scale 
Headaches
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take medications if headaches are severe
  • See your GP
Drink water 
Incontinence
  • Doing pelvic floor exercises
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Have a healthy diet
  • Talk to your GP or visit a Family Planning NSW clinic
Healthy food 
Forgetfulness
  • Get enough sleep
  • Have a healty diet
  • Do regular exercise
  • Keep the brain active by doing puzzles or quizzes, reading or learning something new
Exercise 
Low libido
  • Use vaginal lubricant if there is pain or discomfort during sex
  • Talk to the GP or visit a Family Planning NSW clinic
Woman in consultation with doctor 
Bone health
  • Eat foods high in calcium
  • Maintain vitamin D through sun exposure
  • Do regular exercise
Walking 

Hormone therapy

Some may also choose to use hormone therapy. Hormone therapy involves taking oestrogen. This can be in the form of tablets, patches or gels. Oestrogen will help manage menopause symptoms.

These are medications which need a doctor's prescription. Menopause hormone therapy may not be suitable for some, but is a safe option for many.

Talk to the doctor or visit a Family Planning NSW clinic for more inofrmation.

Question list

For more information

Visit a Family Planning NSW clinic. Click here for our clinic locations

Call the Family Planning NSW Talkline on 1300 658 886

Talk to one of our nurses online.

To talk to someone in your language, call the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) on 131 450. Ask to be connected to Family Planning NSW.

Resources

Videos about menopause

Press play on menopause - Arabic

Press play on menopause - Dari

Brochures about menopause

Know Your Health: Menopause - English

Know Your Health: Menopause - Arabic

Know Your Health: Menopause - Dari

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