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Yoxly Awesome Contributors

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Medically Reviewed by:

Dr Danae Maragouthakis

We’re celebrating menopause awareness month! As you reach your forties and fifties, you’ll likely start to notice changes to your body and mood and might wonder, “am I entering menopause?” Knowing what to look out for can help you recognise the start of menopause and understand what’s normal. Plus, you’ll know what to expect and how best to manage your symptoms.

To help prepare you, in this blog we explain what happens during menopause and discuss some common signs that may indicate you are menopausal. Plus, get some top tips on how to alleviate your symptoms!

What Happens During The Menopause

Menopause is a natural part of ageing for all women. It marks the end of your periods and reproductive years, but the start of a new life chapter - much like when you got your first ever period. Many women find menopause a time of liberation, as period troubles and pregnancy scares become a thing of the past.

As women get older, oestrogen levels slowly begin to decline. This causes your ovaries to stop releasing eggs every month, and your periods may become irregular, before stopping altogether. A loss of oestrogen also gives rise to other menopausal symptoms, which we will cover in greater detail below.

But first, it’s important to under the three stages of menopause:

  • Perimenopause: is the time leading up to your last period and describes the transitionary phase to menopause. Most women will enter this stage between 45 and 55, although some may experience it much earlier. Generally, perimenopause is when women tend to experience the most menopausal symptoms, as oestrogen levels plummet. This stage can last anywhere from a few months to several years.
  • Menopause: is the time when your menstrual cycle completely stops altogether.
  • Postmenopause: begins when it has been 12 months since your final period. For many women, this is a time of liberation. Periods are mostly, quite literally, a pain after all!

So, how can you tell if you’re entering perimenopause? Several tell-tale signs can alert you to the start of menopause. Understanding what these are can ensure you are prepared for this next stage in life so that you can support your own physical and mental health in the best possible way.

Common Menopause Symptoms

Every woman has her own journey through menopause. Some may only experience mild symptoms, while others may experience more severe changes. The main point to remember is that what is happening to your body is normal - if sometimes unpleasant!

1. Irregular Bleeding

This is usually the first sign that you are entering menopause. You may find your periods come more or less frequently, are longer or shorter, and are lighter or heavier than usual.

This disruption is caused by declining oestrogen levels, which plays havoc on your menstrual cycle. Why? Because oestrogen plays a key role in the development of the uterus lining and the release of an egg during ovulation. Without sufficient levels, these processes cannot take place and things get thrown very much out of whack.

But irregular bleeding is not always a sign of menopause and can also have other causes, such as pregnancy or an STI. So if you notice any changes, it’s always a good idea to see your doctor to ensure there isn’t another underlying cause. You can even order one of our at-home STI testing kits, to rule out STIs, without even needing to leave the comfort of your own home.

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2. Mood Changes

Ah yes, the dreaded mood swings. Many women reading this will be familiar with these, as it is common to experience mood changes during your monthly cycle as a result of hormone fluctuations. Well, the same goes for menopause, so nothing new really!

Some women report changes in mood during perimenopause, including increased irritability, depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue. These are all normal feelings, and it can help to remember that your feelings may be exaggerated due to changes in your hormones.

Try to get plenty of sleep every night, do regular exercise, schedule some me-time, and take part in relaxing activities such as yoga. These can all help boost your mood and keep you from feeling blue. Multiple scientific studies have found that regular physical activity has significant beneficial effects on mental health and mood state - so dust off the running shoes and get your sports bras on, ladies!

3. Hot Flushes

Hot flushes, also called hot flashes, are another very common symptom of menopause. They describe a sudden feeling of warmth in your body and face, reddening of the skin, and sweating. Not exactly pleasant if you’re in a meeting at work. But the good news is, there are things you can do to help you manage. Here are our top tips:

  • Wearing loose-fitting light clothing. Layers, layers and more layers! This means you can easily shed clothing when you feel a hot flush coming on.
  • Avoid triggers like alcohol, smoking and caffeine.
  • Place a fan in your bedroom or on your desk at work.
  • Keep a sneaky spray bottle in your bag so you can mist yourself to help you cool down.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid hot baths and showers.
4. Vaginal Changes

As you enter menopause, you will also begin to notice changes to your downstairs department, so it’s important to pay attention to your vaginal health during this time. As oestrogen levels decline, the vagina walls may become drier and thinner, known as vaginal atrophy. This can cause itching, burning, pain or discomfort, particularly during sex. You may also notice changes to your vaginal discharge. To help ease these symptoms, you can try:

  • Vaginal moisturisers: can help prevent dryness and keep vaginal tissues moist.
  • Vaginal lubricants: can help make sexual intercourse more comfortable.
  • Systemic hormone replacement therapy (HRT): delivers synthetic oestrogen to help treat a variety of menopause symptoms.
  • Vaginal oestrogen creams and pessaries: contain oestrogen and help reduce dryness and symptoms of vaginal atrophy.

Read our blog on how menopause affects the vagina to find out more.

5. Problems Sleeping

According to research, low levels of progesterone and oestrogen as seen in menopausal women, can negatively impact sleep, as these hormones play a key role in bodily processes involved in regulating sleep. Hot flushes and mood changes can also have an effect. Here are a few tips to help you get your forty winks at night.

  • Do regular exercise.
  • Limit screen time near bedtime.
  • You may feel more tired than usual during the day, but try to avoid naps.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, eating big meals, or having caffeine late in the evening.
  • Create a cosy sleeping environment. Block out sound and light, and keep your room cool.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule - yes, even on weekends!


Menopause usually begins between the ages of 45 and 50 and is caused by a drop in the hormone oestrogen. There are three stages: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

A decline in oestrogen brings on a number of changes to your body, all of which are totally normal, if a bit unpleasant. One of the first signs of menopause is irregular menstrual bleeding. Other symptoms to look out for that signify you may be menopausal include, hot flushes, vaginal changes such as dryness and pain during sex, mood changes, and sleeping problems.

The good news is there are a number of steps you can take to take back control of your own health. Follow our tips listed above and your menopause journey will be more than manageable.


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Yoxly's Awesome Contributors (YACs) are a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about public health, and committed to furthering our mission. Yoxly provides a platform where a variety of sexual health topics (some more awkward than others!) can be explored, in an informative and non-judgmental way. If you'd like to become one of Yoxly's Awesome Contributors, contact us!