It happens to all of us.

And like periods some will sail through it with ease and speed while others will find it one hard, long, uphill, flushed and sweaty slog. It isn’t fair but it can be easier.

What is it? Why does it happen? When will it strike? How will I know it’s coming? What happens to me while it’s happening?!

I didn’t have a clue before I started this page which was concerning.

Unfortunately, while periods and infertility have started to be discussed in wider circles, Menopause is still one of those subjects most of us don’t think about until it’s actually on top of us. Why is this the case when it’s going to be, like getting our periods, a massive part of our lives do we pay it so little attention?

Once again, the information is out there but it’s not something your average 20 – 40 year old thinks ‘Oh yeah, I’ll do a bit of research about that’. We are barely taught anything about it in schools and there is no sex ed course in your late 30’s to get you prepped and ready for it.

So let’s start with a few basics.

What is it and why does it happen?

According to the NHS the Menopause is the end of your reproductive life. That sounds a little dramatic but I think sums it up. Your periods start to lessen as your body produces less and less estrogen. This causes your body to stop producing eggs, thickening that lining and gradually, you stop having periods altogether. Sounds ok right? Well….it comes with its own fun side effects while it’s doing it.

When will it strike?

The average age for women in the UK is 51 (so expect it between 45-55) but some women will have it occur earlier before the age of 40. This is called Premature menopause.

How will I know it’s coming?

As ever, nature provides us with charming signals. While before you menstruated you had budding breasts, the horror of hair sprouting in all sorts of places and the odd mood swing, the Menopause gives you the following:

What a lovely line up.

And that’s not all. Symptoms can start months or even years before your periods stop and can last for four years after your last period. Even when she’s done with you, Mother Nature isn’t through making your life fun.

If you’re under 40 and experiencing these the NHS suggest hot footing it to your GP to have your hormones measured. You may need to push for this. Attitudes towards menopause are similar to those for contraception; some GPS are amazing, others are just terrible for different things. It’s up to you to find who will be best for you.

Ok. So how do I control it?

There are several  things your doctor can provide you with:

  • Hormone replacement Therapy (HRT) – this comes in tablet or skin patch form and replaces lost estrogen. The downside is if your blood pressure spikes you may be take off it. It has also been linked to blood clots and breast cancer however the benefits are felt to far out weight the risks.
  • Various estrogen creams and lubricants for vaginal dryness
  • Eating a healthy and varied diet and maintaining a healthy weight

Like periods, you will cope with this. Just be a clever cnt about it and get organised. Go to your doctor with basic fact about your cycles and push for what you feel will suit you. Spend three months before you go to the doctor tracking so that you can answer all of their questions. And if you’re not happy with the response, don’t sit on a period which lasts for a month as one woman did. Push for a resolution if you need it.

We spoke to Susie (not her real name) about her experiences of the Menopause. You can read it on our blog here.

Early Menopause

Now, it’s rare but for some women this sh*t happens before they turn 45 – 55. Sometimes in their teens or twenties. It can literally happening naturally when a woman’s ovaries stop working properly (oestrogen is vital for your bits to work as they should remember) and premature menopause can run in families so speak to your mother and your grandmother(s) and if she’s alive your great grandmother(s) and get the lowdown on when they remember ‘the change’ happening.

According to the NHS this failure can be caused by:

  • chromosome abnormalities – such as in women with Turner syndrome
  • an autoimmune disease – where the immune system starts attacking body tissues
  • certain infections, such as tuberculosismalaria and mumps – but this is very rar

Early menopause can also be caused by having chemotherapy or radiotherapy or having surgery to remove the ovaries.

The main symptoms to look out for are very irregular periods or non-existent periods (remember please to ALWAYS be a Clever Cnt and see your doctor if your periods are wonky for three months or more!) and symptoms can also include:

It is however very rare so please don’t go panicking just yet especially if you’re in your teens and your periods haven’t settled down yet. The GP will do a few blood tests and treatment is usually the mini pill and/or HRT.

The gutting news (if you want them) is it will affect your ability to have children, however there are so many incredible ways of having children through IVF or donor eggs don’t despair. The NHS has listed the following organisations for support groups if you do find yourself in this situation: