Menopause is a good time to re-evaluate your health and your lifestyle
for the next phase of your life


During the time leading up to your final menstrual period, your ovaries produce less and less progesterone and oestrogen. These changes can cause a variety of symptoms, both physical and emotional.


For most women, symptoms stop about a year after the last period. Some women continue to experience symptoms (particularly hot flushes) for many years afterwards.


It’s still possible to become pregnant around the time of menopause. If you don’t want to get pregnant you should continue your birth control. Ask your doctor for advice.

  • Definitions Definitions


    The word ‘menopause’ is often used to mean all the changes that happen towards the end of a woman’s childbearing years. In medical language, menopause means a woman’s final menstrual period.

    Perimenopause means the time leading up to menopause (typically 4–6 years).

    Postmenopause means the time after the final period.

  • Timing of menopause Timing of menopause

    Timing of menopause

    The average age of menopause in Australia is 51.

    Most women experience menopause naturally between the ages of 45 to 55. Most women experience menopause at about the same age as their mothers and sisters.

    Women who have not given birth may reach menopause slightly earlier than other women. On average, smokers reach menopause 2 years earlier than non-smokers. Up to 8% of women experience menopause before age 45, due to cancer treatment, surgical removal of the ovaries (e.g. for cancer), or naturally.

  • What to expect What to expect

    What to expect

    Everyone experiences menopause differently.

    Periods may get longer, shorter, heavier or lighter before they stop completely. Periods may be closer together or further apart. It is common to have a period after several months with no periods.

    It can be difficult to know when you have had your final menstrual period. You may have no period for several months and then have another period.

    Women with irregular periods should see their doctor to make sure the change is due to the approach of menopause and not due to a medical condition. During perimenopause most women have mild symptoms and some have none. About one in five women has severe symptoms.

  • Menopausal signs and symptoms Menopausal signs and symptoms

    Menopausal signs and symptoms

    • Hot flushes (also called hot flashes) – a sudden feeling of heat in the upper body
    • Night sweats
    • Aches and pains
    • Bloating
    • Crawling or itchy skin
    • Headaches/migraines
    • Increasing tiredness
    • Sore breasts
    • Urinary problems
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Wakefulness
    • Weight gain
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Forgetfulness
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Feeling anxious
    • Feeling irritable
    • Depressed mood or mood swings
    • Feeling you are not able to cope as well as you used to
    • Worsening premenstrual syndrome
    • Less interest in sex
  • How to manage menopausal symptoms How to manage menopausal symptoms

    How to manage menopausal symptoms

    Many women don’t need any treatment. You may need treatment if your symptoms are troublesome. Treatment can include:

    • hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
    • over-the-counter medicines
    • lifestyle changes.

    Treatment should be individualised for your symptoms, stage of menopause and general health. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

    HRT involves short-term use of oestrogen, or a combination of oestrogen plus progesterone, to replace your natural hormones.

    Oestrogen is effective for relieving hot flushes. Oral oestrogen is usually combined with a progestogen (a type of progesterone). Oestrogen is also available in the form of tablets, rings and creams that are placed in the vagina. This can help relieve vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex and some urinary symptoms.

    If you have been prescribed HRT, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the possible benefits and risks of these medicines.

  • Over the counter medicines Over the counter medicines

    Over the counter medicines

    Some medicines that may help relieve menopausal symptoms are available over the counter. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

    If you take any medicines (including complementary medicines), make sure your doctor and pharmacist know what you are taking and have checked for possible unwanted interactions with prescription medicines.

    If you have vaginal dryness or discomfort, consider using a water-based lubricant during sex.

  • Lifestyle changes Lifestyle changes

    Lifestyle changes

    Try to avoid things that trigger your hot flushes. These can include:

    • stress
    • caffeine
    • alcohol (especially red wine)
    • spicy foods
    • clothing that is tight or too warm
    • heat (hot weather or showers)
    • cigarette smoke. Strategies to prevent or manage hot flushes include:
    • keeping up regular physical activity
    • deep breathing exercises (slow deep breaths)
    • keeping cool.
  • After menopause After menopause

    After menopause

    Menopause is a good time to re-evaluate your health and your lifestyle for the next phase of your life. During the first few years after menopause your bones become thinner and can become more fragile. As your oestrogen levels decline your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Aim for a healthy lifestyle:

    • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and minimising processed foods
    • Make sure you have enough calcium
    • Maintain a healthy body weight
    • Get regular physical activity.

    Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your risk of common medical conditions like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and bladder problems. Your doctor may recommend routine health checks such as mammograms, pap smears, bone density tests, blood pressure tests and cholesterol tests.

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