This post was written by Peony Lane

This is a tricky one because it differs from person to person.

The stated ‘average age’ for a woman in the UK to go through menopause is 51 or 52.

But some women can start going through the menopause as early as 40.   If you go through the menopause before you’re 45 it’s considered a premature menopause.

Menopause, like starting periods, is actually one day in your life.  It’s the day your period doesn’t happen and will never happen again.

It’s similar to when you first start having periods and you can have one random one followed by several months of nothing then a few more random ones ­ until after maybe 12 months they’ve evened out and you’re having them reasonably regularly.  In the same way, you can miss a period for a couple of months and then have regular periods again for another couple of months…and so it goes on until they have finally stopped altogether.

We’ll never know it’s our last period until about 6 months later.

I don’t have any scientific evidence to prove it but my gut feel is that people who start their periods earlier than their peers will probably usually go through the menopause a bit earlier than their contemporaries. I’m guessing it’s something to do with our own natural body clock.

But for most women it’s not the significance of their last period that hits them first, it’s all the symptoms that go along with it that they notice more than anything:

Fatigue

Hot flushes

Irritability

Mood swings

Sleeplessness

Loss of libido

Night sweats

Not all of these symptoms occur all at the same time (thank goodness!) but we can suffer them intermittently over several years.  This was something I never realised until it started happening to me.

For a few weeks every now and then I simply wouldn’t feel ‘me’.  Tossing and turning at night.  Feeling a bit low. I never really put two and two together for a while.

The good news is that actually you can have several ‘menopause symptoms free’ months to enjoy in-between bouts.  So it’s not all bad news.