The menopause is the last menstrual period a woman has. The average age is 51 years (range 45-55 years). Smokers reach the menopause 1-4 years earlier than non-smokers.

What are menopausal symptoms?

A range of symptoms can occur several years before and after the menopause. The good news is that 20% of women have no symptoms and 60% have only mild symptoms.

  • Hot flushes, night sweats
  • Aches and pains
  • Crawling or itchy skin
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Urinary frequency
  • Tiredness, irritability
  • Depression
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Low self-esteem
  • Forgetfulness

How are hot flushes treated?

Hot flushes are a feeling of intense heat, flushing and sweating. They occur in up to 80% of women and continue for 4-5 years on average.

Drinking cool drinks, using a small fan, dressing in layers and wearing light clothing can help. Regular exercise, managing stress and a healthy diet are also beneficial.

Avoid triggers such as caffeine, smoking, ­alcohol, spicy foods, hot rooms and hot drinks.

Short-term hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for hot flushes and is safe for most women. Other medicines are also available.

What about complementary medicines?

There is no good evidence that any complementary medicine helps menopausal symptoms. This includes black cohosh, red clover, soy foods, soy isoflavone extracts, dong quai, wild yam, progesterone creams and ginseng.

Are ‘bioidentical hormones’ safe?

Bioidentical hormones are promoted as being identical to natural hormones. They are not approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. There is no evidence they are safer than any other hormone therapy and they may even be harmful in some women. Most experts do not recommend them.

When can contraception be ceased?

Birth control is needed until you have had one year without a period if over the age of 50 or 2 years if under 50. Women on the Pill are generally advised to stop by age 51 and use an alternative method if still needing contraception.

Managing Menopause (The Jean Hailes Foundation)


  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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