What is menopause?

Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. The average age in the UK to reach the menopause is 51 year old.

It can sometimes happen earlier naturally. Or for reasons such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy), cancer treatments like chemotherapy, or a genetic reason. Sometimes the reason is unknown.

Perimenopause is when you have symptoms before your periods have stopped. You reach menopause when you have not had a period for 12 months.

The change in hormones in menopause and perimenopause can cause a variety of symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, brain fog, hot flushes, vaginal dryness, increased urination, urinary incontinence and irregular periods. These symptoms can start years before your periods stop and carry on afterwards.

The drop in hormones can influence many systems in your body including your bones, heart and brain. Hormone replacement therapy is a range of treatments that can top-up the hormone levels to help with your symptoms and protect your bones, brain and heart. You can read more about it here:

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms can have a big impact on your life, including relationships and work.

There are things you can do to help with symptoms. There are also medicines that can replace the missing hormones and help relieve your symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Menopause?

What can I do to help my symptoms?

Menopause Support and Advice from The Menopause Charity

Lifestyle changes to help menopause and perimenopause. Eating well, exercising and looking after your mental wellbeing can help with symptoms during perimenopause and menopause.


  • get plenty of rest, including keeping to regular sleep routines
  • eat a healthy diet
  • have calcium-rich food like milk, yoghurt and kale to keep bones healthy
  • exercise regularly, try including weight-bearing activities where your feet and legs support your weight like walking, running or dancing
  • do relaxing things like yoga, tai chi or meditation
  • talk to other people going through the same thing, like family, friends or colleagues
  • talk to a doctor before taking herbal supplements or complementary medicines


  • do not smoke
  • do not drink more than the recommended alcohol limit

How to ease mood changes

It’s common to have mood swings, low mood and anxiety around the time of the menopause and perimenopause.
You can try to:

  • get plenty of rest
  • exercise regularly
  • do relaxing activities
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of talking therapy that can help with a low mood and feelings of anxiety. It can also help with sleep problems.

How to ease hot flushes and night sweats

You can:

  • wear light clothing
  • keep your bedroom cool at night
  • take a cool shower, use a fan or have a cold drink
  • try to reduce your stress level
  • avoid or reduce potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, hot drinks, smoking and alcohol
  • exercise regularly
  • lose weight if you’re overweight
  • CBT can also help manage hot flushes.

How to ease vaginal dryness

Vaginal Dryness – The Menopause Charity

There are vaginal moisturisers or lubricants you can get without a prescription at a pharmacy.
You can talk to a pharmacist in private if you’d like help to decide which moisturiser is right for you.
If you’re having sex and using condoms, do not use oil-based lubricant as this can damage condoms. You can use a water-based lubricant. There are other treatments for vaginal dryness that a doctor can prescribe, such as HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or hormonal treatment for the vagina (creams, pessaries, gel or vaginal rings).

Protecting against weak bones

Lifestyle for healthy bones – The Menopause Charity

You can try to:

  • exercise regularly, including weight-bearing exercises, where your feet and legs support your weight (like walking, running or dancing) and resistance exercises (for example, using weights)
  • eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and sources of calcium, such as milk, yoghurt and kale
  • get some sunlight on your skin as this triggers the production of vitamin D, which can help keep your bones healthy
  • take vitamin D supplements
  • stop smoking and cut down on alcohol
  • HRT can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, talk to your GP to discuss this further