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Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise
Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise

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5 Factors affecting the severity of the menopause

On average the menopause starts aged 51; however, the perimenopause that is described as ‘the change before the change’, characterised by menstrual irregularity, starts on average at age 47.5 years. That said, the age when the menopause is expected to start can depend on a range of genetic and environmental factors (Hillard et al., 2017). Lifestyle factors like smoking and excess alcohol consumption can lead to an earlier menopause (Henpicked, 2018), and high stress levels, particularly stressful events, can do the same. Genetics is also a significant factor. It is likely that the age when the menopause is first experienced will be similar to the age when the person’s mother experienced theirs (Henpicked, 2018), and they may also experience similar intensity of symptoms.

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While there is variability in the age when the menopause starts there is also variability in the type and severity of symptoms that will be experienced. There are some people who will not experience any symptoms. Of those who do experience symptoms, 25% will have mild symptoms, 50% will have moderate symptoms that affect their daily life, and 25% will have severe symptoms that seriously impact on their wellbeing (The Well HQ, 2022).

Another factor that can influence how the menopause is experienced is lifestyle. Being overweight and undernourished, as is common in people who live a Western lifestyle, being sedentary, not sleeping well and being chronically stressed are all factors that affect our general health and wellbeing and exacerbate the symptoms of menopause.