Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Women’s health centre

Menopause - Symptoms of the menopause

NHS Choices Medical Reference

NHS Choices Logo

The menopause can cause a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. The first symptom is usually a change in the pattern of your monthly periods.

The start of the menopause is known as the perimenopausal stage. During this time, you may have light or heavy periods.

The frequency of your periods may also be affected. You may have a period every two-three weeks, or you may not have one for months at a time.

Other menopausal symptoms include:

If you experience the menopause suddenly rather than gradually, your symptoms may be worse.

Your symptoms will usually last for two-five years before disappearing, although in some cases they can last longer. Vaginal symptoms, such as dryness, can sometimes persist and get worse as you get older.

Hot flushes and night sweats

A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat in your upper body, which can start in your face, neck or chest, before spreading upwards and downwards.

The skin on your face, neck and chest may become red and patchy and you may start to sweat. You may also feel a change in your heart rate. It may become very rapid, or it may be irregular and stronger than usual (palpitations).

Hot flushes that occur at night are called night sweats. Most hot flushes only last a few minutes and they are most common in the first year after your final period.

Sleep problems

Many menopausal women have trouble sleeping due to night sweats, but sleep disturbances may also occur as a result of anxiety.

You may find that a lack of sleep makes you irritable and that you have problems with your short-term memory and ability to concentrate.

Vaginal symptoms

During the time leading up to the menopause, you may experience vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort. This can make sex difficult or painful (dyspareunia). These symptoms combined are known as vaginal atrophy.

About a third of women experience the symptoms of vaginal atrophy shortly after the menopause, with slightly more women having them later on. In some cases, vaginal atrophy can persist for more than 10 years after your final period.

If you have vaginal symptoms, it is likely that they will continue or get worse over time unless they are treated.

Urinary symptoms

During the menopause, you are more likely to experience recurrent lower urinary tract infections, such as cystitis. You may also feel an urgent and frequent need to pass urine.

Medical Review: March 25, 2012
Next Article:

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
smiling african american woman
Best kept secrets for beautiful hair
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
assorted spices
Pump up the flavour with spices
bag of crisps
Food cravings that wreck your diet
crossword puzzle
Help for the first hard days
probiotic shakes
Help digestion
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting