What is the Menopause?

Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her periods stop as a result of the reduction and loss of ‘ovarian reproductive function’. Ovaries include the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. When a woman approaches the menopause, less oestrogen is produced causing her body to behave differently. This process is usually a gradual one that progresses over several years. Oestrogen also plays an important role in maintaining bone and heart health as well as brain function during the reproductive years.

The menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. The average age in the UK is 51. It is defined as when a woman has had no periods for one year or more. Before then a woman will experience ‘early peri-menopause’ and ‘late peri-menopause’.

Mind in Bexley’s NHS Talking Therapies and Recovery College services are a proven and effective way to help ease the symptoms of menopause. To find out more about what Mind in Bexley can offer, please see the support resources section at the bottom of this page.

Early peri-menopause

Women initially experience a change in menstrual cycle pattern when periods become infrequent and the cycles become slightly longer, e.g., 6-7 weeks apart. This phase is called the ‘early peri-menopause’. The average age it occurs is 47 and it is when women may start experiencing menopausal symptoms.

Late peri-menopause

Subsequently, many women experience worsening of their menopausal symptoms. Menstrual cycles become less frequent, with periods a few months apart. This is called the ‘late peri-menopause’ and the average age it occurs is 49.

What do women experience when they go through the menopause?

All women experience the menopause at some stage in their life. It is estimated that more than 80% of women will be menopausal by the age of 54. Whilst not all women will experience menopausal symptoms when they go through the menopause, up to 80-90% will have some symptoms, with 25% describing them as severe and debilitating. Clearly this has significant implications for women at work.


The most common symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats (vasomotor symptoms), experienced by 70-80% of women. Other symptoms include disturbed sleep and insomnia, low energy levels, low mood, anxiety, low libido and low sexual drive, impaired memory and concentration, a sensation of ‘brain fog’, joint aches, headaches, palpitations and vaginal dryness and urinary symptoms. Menopausal symptoms last on average for more than 7 years and it is estimated that more than a third of women experience long-term menopausal symptoms which may continue for a number of years beyond that.

Long-term health

When the ovaries have stopped producing oestrogen, this fall in hormone levels may have an effect on long-term health. Most commonly these changes affect the strength and density of bones, increasing the risk of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. The bones of the female skeleton depend on oestrogen to maintain their strength and resistance to fracture. However, whilst a hot flush or vaginal dryness are obvious, there are no obvious symptoms of osteoporosis – the first sign may be a fracture of a bone. In addition, oestrogen deficiency after the menopause has also been shown to result in an increase in the risk of heart disease in women.

How do you diagnose the menopause?

The diagnosis of the menopause should be made by assessing the clinical picture and based on a combination of menopausal symptoms and change in menstrual cycle pattern in women beyond the age of 45. Hormonal testing (Follicle Stimulating Hormone – FSH) is not helpful in diagnosing the menopause as the level of the hormone can fluctuate from one month to another and may not give an accurate assessment.

What interventions are available to women going through the menopause?

The menopause transition can have a considerable impact on many women. The majority of women will experience menopausal symptoms, and for a significant proportion troublesome symptoms may continue long-term. All women should be able to access advice on how they can optimise their menopause transition. There should be a holistic and individualised approach in advising women, with particular reference to lifestyle advice and diet modification. This should be an opportunity to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of their management options including Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and alternative therapies.

Copyright © 2022 British Menopause Society.

The ways in which Mind in Bexley can help:

How can we help?

We can offer support to those struggling with low mood, frustration, depression, anxiety, sleeping difficulties that have an impact on your daily life e.g. work, relationships, family life or caring role.

Our service offers a wide range of therapeutic support including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), group therapy and online therapy. Your initial assessment will assist with identifying the appropriate treatment for you.

If you are 18+, registered with a Bexley GP and struggling with mild-moderate anxiety or depression we are here to support you.

Click here for more information: mindinbexley.org.uk/talking-therapies/

Mind in Bexley is keen to build on some interviews undertaken for this event and work with residents on an exciting oral history project: ‘Minding stories of Menopause’. We are keen to work with women to capture and record experiences and perceptions and explore the impact on wellbeing of this important life stage which is often absent in narrative research. Alongside physical symptoms, the menopause can impact women’s mental health causing increased stress, anxiety, fear and depression. There is, however, limited testimonies in the archives documenting women’s lives during menopause. This project will aim to address this ‘silence’ by establishing an archive around this life stage.

Some of the participants will be recruited as co-researchers from the Bexley community to record women’s stories. All co-researchers will receive training and support in oral history interviewing techniques to help us record women’s accounts.

The collection will be exhibited throughout the Borough to help raise awareness and will offer an accessible resource for residents, health care professionals and researchers. This project continues Mind’s work in collecting stories around other ‘hidden’ areas including migration, carers and recipients of home care. These project have had important educational benefits, giving the people of Bexley a unique opportunity to speak out about their experiences, thereby generating awareness in public attitudes.

For further information please email Mind in Bexley, at: info@mindinbexley.org.uk

The Menopause Group is informal and a great opportunity to chat and meet other women from Bexley going through the stages of the menopause.

The Group meets on Tuesdays between 6pm and 7.30pm at The Pantry, 301c Broadway, Bexleyheath DA6 8DT

To register your interest for the menopause support group, please email: recovery@mindinbexley.org.uk

Menopause Resources

Balance Menopause Library: balance-menopause.com

Menopause Matters: menopausematters.co.uk

Rock My Menopause: rockmymenopause.com

Menopause and Me! menopauseandme.co.uk

NICE Menopause Information: nice.org.uk/guidance/ng23/ifp/chapter/Menopause

Women’s Health Concern: womens-health-concern.org

Queer/LGBTQIA+ Menopause: queermenopause.com

The Daisy Network: daisynetwork.org

The Menopause Charity: themenopausecharity.org

Counselling matters: counsellingmattersbexley.org

Treatment for symptoms of the menopause Patient information Leaflet

NHS Hormone Replacement Therapy Prescription Prepayment Certificate

Menopause Talk given by Consultant Gynaecologist and Menopause Specialist Ms Leila Frodsham who works at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital Passcode: Qj?YJ&14

BAME Instagram: linktr.ee/blackwomeninmenopause

Physical Activity

Mental Health Mates: mentalhealthmates.co.uk

#ThisMumRuns: thismumruns.co.uk

Good Gym: goodgym.org

Zumba – St Michaels: smcc-welling.co.uk/what-s-on Danson Runners Facebook Group

We are Walx – Nordic walking: walx.co.uk

Resources for partners:

Balance for Partners: balance-menopause.com

Menopause and cancer

Balance for Cancer Support: balance-menopause.com

Menopause and work

Trade Union Congress: Supporting working women through the menopause

Unison: The menopause and work

Faculty of Occupational Medicine: Guidance on menopause and the workplace

Edelweiss Collings – Mind in Bexley’s Head of Psychological Therapies and Clinical Lead NHS Bexley Talking Therapies

Charlotte video case study

Dr Emma Agyekum GP – The Albion Surgery, Bexleyheath

Kate Shrager – Community Connect Manager