The 'M' Word

What is Menopause?

Confusingly, there are several stages of menopausal transition. Here are some definitions:

  • Peri-menopause: The period when a woman’s supply of eggs is running out and her hormone levels (especially of oestrogen and progesterone) are decreasing. This transition time to the end of a woman’s reproductive life can last 4 to 10 years and causes unpredictable fluctuations in hormone levels, which may result in debilitating symptoms.
    This is the phase which, in general society, is commonly, but inaccurately, referred to as ‘menopause’.

  • Menopause: This is actually one date in time, naturally occurring 12 months after a woman has had her final menstrual period, after her last egg has been released. Natural menopause is only confirmed retrospectively, after a woman has experienced 12 successive months of having no periods, or amenorrhoea.
    Natural Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 to 55, with the average age being 51. 
  • Post-menopause: Begins 12 months after a woman’s final menstrual period. The celebratory phase!
  • Premature menopause: Menopause which occurs at ages less than 40 years. 
  • Surgical or chemical menopause: Sudden, un-natural menopause which occurs after ovaries are surgically removed, or as a result of chemotherapy or other types of cancer treatment in some women.  

So, what are the main symptoms?


  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of libido
  • Irregular periods
  • Sleep problems


  • Heart palpitations
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry & itchy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Bladder weakness
  • Bloating
  • Hair loss
  • Allergies
  • Brittle nails
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sweats / body odour


  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability / impatience
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Panic disorders
  • Foggy brain


  • Tingling extremities
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Electric shocks
  • Burning mouth
  • Nausea
  • Dental problems
  • Muscle tension