Menopause symptoms: common signs, what age does it happen, how long does it last and how does HRT work?

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Penny Lancaster spoke out about her experience of menopause on Loose Women

The menopause can affect women differently and symptoms can last for several years.

Part of the normal ageing process, the menopause is caused by changes to hormone levels as women get older.

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While some may experience mild symptoms, it can have an adverse impact on daily life for others. However there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What are the signs of the menopause?

Changes to periods can be one of the first indicators of the menopause.

Periods may become either unusually light or heavy and the frequency may also be affected.

The NHS says about eight in every 10 women will have extra symptoms for some time before and after their periods stop.

These include:

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  • Hot flushes, short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest
  • Night sweats, hot flushes at night
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes such as low mood and anxiety
  • Headaches

What age does the menopause begin at?

It usually starts between the age of 45 to 55 years of age as women’s Oestrogen levels fall. The average age for women to reach the menopause in the UK, according to the NHS is 51 years old.

However, some women go through menopause early. One in 100 will experience it before the age of 40 years old, this is called premature menopause.

How long does menopause last?

Symptoms usually start a few months or years before periods stop, this is known as the perimenopause.

Most symptoms can last on average for around four years after a woman’s last period.

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However, around one in 10 women will experience symptoms for up to 12 years afterwards.

How does HRT work?

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) works by replacing hormones that are at a lower level as a woman approaches menopause. It can helps reduce symptoms such as hot flushes.

There are different types of HRT and it can be taken as soon as menopausal symptoms start. It will usually be prescribed in low does to start with.

Some types of HRT can increase the risk of breast cancer.

And HRT is not suitable for those with a history of certain cancers, liver disease, untreated high blood pressure or those with a history of blood clots.

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