Understanding Menopause: Key Symptoms Every Woman Should Know

Menopause brings a lot of changes in a woman’s life—from physical to mental changes. The menopause transition is a significant stage in her life that marks the end of her reproductive years. Understanding menopause and all the changes you go through during this journey is essential for a better transition. Let’s explore what menopause is and its key symptoms. Recognise these symptoms for prompt management and empower yourself.


According to the National Library of Medicine, you are diagnosed with menopause when you consecutively miss your periods for a year. This happens when your ovaries exhaust and stop producing oestrogen hormones—the key female sex hormone. Menopause does not occur overnight, but in three stages:

1. Perimenopause

It starts several years before menopause. In this stage, the ovaries gradually stop functioning, and hormonal fluctuations are evident.

2. Menopause

It officially starts when you haven’t had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months

3. Postmenopause

This stage starts after menopause and is characterised by the continuation of menopausal symptoms but gradually decreasing hormone levels.

Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. The average menopause age for a UK female is 51.

Let’s Explore Key Symptoms You Should Know

1. Irregular Periods

As you reach near menopause, your ovarian function slows down, which causes your menstrual cycle to become irregular. This means your periods could become unpredictable—sometimes coming sooner than expected, sometimes later. The flow might change, too, becoming lighter or heavier. Your body is getting ready to retire from its monthly routine.

2. Missing Periods

While approaching menopause, you may notice that your periods are getting missed. Not getting your period every month is a clear sign that your body is moving towards the end of its reproductive years. It’s normal for periods to be less frequent before they stop entirely, so do not worry. And when you miss your periods for a whole year, know that menopause is here.

3. Hot Flashes

One of the most common symptoms of menopause is hot flashes, which fall under the vasomotor symptoms category. You may feel an intense heat wave spreading through your body, like standing before a blazing fire, even though there’s no heat around. This happens because of oestrogen level fluctuations. Your face gets red, and you start sweating, making you uncomfortable. Hot flashes can occur anytime, during the day or at night, interrupting your sleep and leaving you sweaty and restless.

4. Vaginal Changes

Oestrogen drops change your vaginal environment. You might notice that things feel a bit dry down there during menopause. Oestrogen keeps everything down there moist and healthy while keeping vaginal tissues flexible and elastic.  When there is no oestrogen, tissues shrink and get dry; you might experience discomfort during sex or even an increased risk of infection. Using lubricants can help make things more comfortable.

5. Changes in Sex Drive

You may feel like your libido or sex drive is changing during menopause. Decreased libido is the result of hormonal shifts, physical changes like vaginal dryness, or pain during sex that make you hesitant towards intimacy.  Other factors, like stress or relationship issues, can also contribute to decreased libido. You can communicate it to your partner and explore different ways to improve arousal and the intercourse experience.

6. Frequent Urinary Infection

Lower oestrogen levels also change your urinary tract, making you more susceptible to infections. These hormonal fluctuations also compromise the bacteria living in the vagina and make them go up towards the urinary tract, causing UTIs. Suppose you notice you’re getting urinary tract infections (UTIs) more often. In that case, it’s a common symptom of menopause, but seek help from your healthcare provider if you notice the infection getting severe. Drinking plenty of water and practising good hygiene can help reduce the risk.

7. Fatigue

Waking up tired, staying drowsy all day, and feeling unusually tired or lacking energy means menopause fatigue, which is another common manifestation of your transition period. Hormonal changes, sleep disturbances, and the overall stress of managing symptoms and your social life can leave you feeling exhausted. Prioritise resting and focus on a balanced diet. You can incorporate exercise into your daily routine to boost your energy levels. It will help you transition better and smoother.

8. Weight Gain

When oestrogen is less present, fat is stored in the abdominal region rather than in the thighs and hips. Moreover, a slower metabolism contributes to weight gain. Many women notice weight gain during menopause. Along with hormonal changes, lifestyle factors may also cause weight gain. To manage your weight during menopause, stay physically active, and focus on a nutritious and water-rich diet, For best results read how to get rid of menopause belly

9. Trouble Sleeping

Menopause can affect sleep duration and quality. You might find it hard to fall asleep, wake up frequently at night, or wake up too early in the morning. Night sweats and hot flashes can make things even worse. Establishing a bedtime routine, removing distractions, and creating a comfortable sleep environment can help improve sleep quality.

10. Mood Swings

During menopause, the fluctuating hormones also fluctuate your moods. One moment, you might feel on top of the world, and the next, you might feel irritated or depressed. These mood swings can be frustrating, but they’re a normal part of the menopausal journey, so do not worry. Talking about how you feel with loved ones can help lighten the load.

Final Word!

Menopause brings many changes to a woman’s life, affecting both her body and mind. Understanding these changes is key to managing them effectively. By recognising the symptoms—like irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, changes in sex drive, frequent urinary infections, fatigue, weight gain, trouble sleeping, and mood swings—you can better prepare for this transition. Remember, menopause is a natural part of ageing. With the proper knowledge and support, you can navigate this stage with confidence and ease. Don’t hesitate to seek menopause treatment from healthcare providers and lean on loved ones for support. You are not alone on this journey.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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