The menopause: Signs and symptoms

  • In the first of our menopause series, our reporter Jessica Tidswell has been finding out how to spot signs of the menopause, and what it all means.

A woman from Jersey has spoken out about living with the menopause, in a bid to help others. Trudi Roscouet has been managing and speaking about her symptoms for three years now, and wants others to do the same.

She says: "My primary thing was insomnia, then of course, comes the times when you are starting to forget words, the brain fog, the confusion, the memory loss. I'm thinking I'm 51 at the time, was this dementia, is this what it's going to be like?"

The average age a woman starts the menopause is 51 - however symptoms commonly start affecting women from the age of 45.

Dr Rebecca Harling, a menopause specialist, says symptoms start "at a time in women's lives when they are busy, have stressful jobs, are looking after families are maybe having relationship issues, so actually they'll put those feelings down to their life in general and not down to their hormones.

"Some women maybe have had their night sweats 10 months ago then all of a sudden now they're getting issues with the brain fog, so I think it's quite hard for women to look at those symptoms together and actually think 'this is the perimenopause, the menopause'."

So, what is the menopause?

The menopause is defined as 12 months since a woman last had a period.

What is the perimenopause?

The perimenopause is classed as the time leading up to the 12 months since a woman last had a period, this can playout for up to 10 years.

During this time a woman is likely to be experiencing symptoms due to changing hormone levels.

What are the symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause?

The 34 symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause include hot flushes, night sweats and irregular periods.

According to the British Menopause Society, on average women will experience seven of the 34 symptoms when going through the menopause. Credit: ITV Channel TV

A survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, on behalf of the British Menopause Society revealed 79% of women experience hot flushes and 70% experience night sweats.

How do hormone levels change during this time?

The hormone that has the biggest impact on a woman's symptoms is called oestrogen.

Oestrogen levels decline erratically over a number of years, meaning symptoms may vary in severity during this time.

Progesterone is the second hormone that affects women when going through the menopause, and these levels decline more consistently over a number of years.

The decline in oestrogen and progesterone levels can happen over 10 years. Credit: ITV Channel TV

How do the change in hormone levels affect the body?

Oestrogen helps the body regulate temperature, promotes hair growth, and stabalises bone density.

Progesterone primarily looks after the lining of the womb.

And the third hormone that is affected during the menopause is testosterone, which helps with muscle growth, improves labido and influences overall energy levels.

42% of women surveyed by the British Menopause Society said their symptoms were worse or much worse than expected. Credit: ITV Channel TV