Menopausal symptoms often start before your periods have stopped completely and typically last for about 4-5 years after your last period. The severity of these symptoms tends to decrease during this time but in some cases they can continue to be bothersome for as long as 10-15 years after the menopause.

How Women are Affected by the Menopause

The hormonal changes during and after the menopause have radical changes on the woman. The timing of when each system is affected not only varies dramatically between women but also the degree of how the changes influence each woman is remarkably unpredictable. The reasons for these variations are not clearly understood but there is some evidence that genetic influences play a part.

Whilst most effects of the menopause have long term implications, the effects of menopause are commonly categorised as having an early onset or an onset in the medium to long term (Table 3.).

Time of Onset Effect
Immediate (0–5 years) Vasomotor symptoms, e.g. hot flushes, night sweats

Psychological symptoms, e.g. labile mood, anxiety, tearfulness

Loss of concentration, poor memory

Joint aches and pains

Dry and itchy skin

Hair changes

Decreased sexual desire

Intermediate (3–10 years) Vaginal dryness, soreness


Urgency of urine

Recurrent urinary tract infections

Urogenital prolapse

Long term (>10 years) Osteoporosis

Cardiovascular disease