Your Complete Guide To Menopause

Discover how menopause affects the body, how symptoms can be treated, and how it impacts lifestyles in our ultimate guide to menopause.

Published: Monday 30 October 2023

menopause guide

Did you know a third of the UK female population is either perimenopausal (transitioning to menopause), menopausal, or postmenopausal according to the latest data from the NHS?[1]

This equates to approximately 13 million women of which 10% report being taught about menopause at school and almost two-thirds are estimated to start seeking information about the condition only after symptoms have appeared.[2]

In order to bridge this knowledge gap, our experts have created this comprehensive guide to menopause answering some of the most pertinent questions regarding this condition.

Read on to learn how long menopause lasts, what the symptoms of menopause are, how to manage menopause using treatments like Gina, and much more.

What happens during menopause?

During menopause, a woman's ovaries stop producing two key hormones that regulate menstruation - oestrogen and progesterone. If the body no longer produces these hormones, periods stop occurring (hence the name menopause, which translates to ‘the last menstrual period’).

Menopause is a natural process that typically begins between the ages of 45 and 55, although the exact age can vary from woman to woman.[3]

When does menopause start?

Research shows that menopause usually starts 12 months after a woman’s final period[4]. However, the symptoms of menopause can begin to occur several years before that point. It is recommended to take a menopause test to be certain of whether menopause has started.

What are the 3 stages of menopause?

The 3 stages of menopause are called perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Perimenopause typically begins during the 40s and refers to the time leading up to menopause when oestrogen and progesterone production begins to fall.[5]

Menopause, on the other hand, refers to the stage when menstruation has stopped for at least 12 consecutive months.[6] In the UK,[7] the average age of women who experience menopause is 51.

After this stage is reached, a woman is considered to be in postmenopause.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

The symptoms of menopause can overlap with the perimenopausal and postmenopausal stages as well as per the NHS.[8] These include:

Symptom Can it occur during perimenopause? Can it occur during menopause? Can it occur during postmenopause?
Hot flashes Yes Yes Yes
Irregular periods Yes No No
Heart palpitations Yes Yes Yes
Dryness in the intimate area Yes Yes Yes
Increased skin oiliness Yes Yes Yes
Headaches or migraines Yes Yes Yes
Hair thinning Yes Yes Yes
Loss of bone mass and/or osteoporosis Yes Yes Yes
Joint pain, stiffness, and/or aches Yes Yes Yes
Urinary incontinence Yes Yes Yes
Difficulties sleeping (also known as menopausal insomnia) Yes Yes Yes
Anxiety Yes Yes Yes
Mood changes Yes Yes Yes
Memory lapses Yes Yes Yes
Reduced libido Yes Yes Yes

How long does menopause last?

According to prominent medical sources,[9,10] menopause can last anywhere between 4 and 10 years. The average duration of the perimenopausal stage is estimated to be 4 to 8 years, while the average duration of the menopausal stage is estimated to be 4 to 7 years. However, some symptoms of menopause may persist beyond these time frames.

How to treat menopause

The primary way to treat menopause is through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Additionally, menopause supplements can be taken to alleviate various menopausal symptoms, including sleep disturbances, hot flashes, mood changes, and more.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be used to replace oestrogen and progesterone in the body once these hormones are no longer produced in the body as a result of menopause.

Therefore, HRT can help with treating menopausal symptoms caused by hormonal changes, such as hot flashes, menopausal insomnia, mood changes, anxiety, and dryness in the intimate area.

According to the latest NHS guidance on HRT,[11] all women can treat menopause symptoms using HRT provided they are not impacted by:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Womb cancer
  • Blood clots
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease

Menopause supplements

Menopause supplements are specifically formulated to help with managing menopausal symptoms.

For example, Menopace Plus tablets come in a dual-pack of two (2) types of tablets that contain ingredients such as soya isoflavones to reduce the severity of hot flashes, help relieve dryness in the intimate area, and more.

Moreover, Menopace Night tablets contain ingredients like chamomile extracts to promote relaxation and help with menopause-related insomnia.

Menopause and lifestyle

How to lose weight during menopause

Weight gain is a common menopausal symptom that is estimated to affect at least 50% of women.[12] It is possible to lose weight during menopause by following a specific diet geared towards overcoming menopausal symptoms, engaging in strength exercises to counter physiological changes caused by menopause, and taking steps to counter cognitive changes brought about by menopause that result in weight gain.

Follow a specific diet

The best diet for losing weight during menopause consists of foods that can help with weight loss and manage menopausal symptoms simultaneously. With this in mind, our experts recommend three food options in particular:

Food option Why it’s important for weight loss Why it’s important for menopause
Fruits and vegetables that have a high concentration of fibre Insulin is a hormone that tells the body to store energy from food as body fat.[13] Fibre prevents insulin spikes because it slows down the release of glucose in the body.[14] This is why eating fibre-rich fruits and vegetables can help regulate the body’s levels of insulin and reduce the probability of gaining weight. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels which are directly related to hot flashes (a common menopause symptom). Eating fibre-rich foods can therefore prevent hot flashes.
Whole grains such as brown rice Whole grains contain more fibre than refined grains and can therefore help with feeling fuller for longer and prevent insulin spikes. This can reduce the probability of putting on weight. Whole grains typically contain a high concentration of B vitamins and magnesium. Some B vitamins such as B6 can help prevent stress, anxiety, and fear - all of which can cause mood changes during menopause.
Lean protein such as chicken breast or turkey Research shows that muscles burn energy from calories even when the body is resting.[15] Lean protein is essential for building and repairing muscle, which is why eating more lean protein can help with building the muscle mass required to boost the body’s ability to burn more calories. Research shows that the body’s energy expenditure falls during menopause.[16] Therefore, it is important for menopausal women to lower overall calorie intake and increase protein intake simultaneously.

Engage in strength exercises

Research shows that oestrogen contributes to the well-being of skeletal muscle and bone health in women[17]. Menopause causes a reduction in the body’s levels of oestrogen, which can lead to a decrease in bone mass density, muscle mass, and overall strength.[18]

This is why it is recommended that menopausal women engage in strength exercises such as squats and lunges to try to build and maintain muscular strength. Our experts recommend starting with a small number of repetitions and gradually building up to minimise the risk of injury.

Given the importance of protein intake to preserve muscle mass, it is important to engage in strength exercises and eat adequate amounts of lean protein as discussed in the previous section.

Address cognitive changes caused by menopause

Menopause-related cognitive changes (such as difficulty concentrating, remembering information, and making decisions) can make it difficult to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan. Therefore, it is recommended to address the cognitive changes of menopause by managing stress and getting adequate sleep each day.

Managing stress: According to studies,[19] stress can disrupt the production of hormones, exacerbating menopausal symptoms such as mood changes and making it harder to follow a diet and exercise plan. Stress can also cause inflammation throughout the body, leading to symptoms such as joint pain that prevent the ability to exercise.[20] Stress management through methods like meditation or practising yoga can prevent these issues from occurring.

Sleeping adequately: Some menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes can contribute to poor sleep. This can increase the body’s levels of the hormone ghrelin, subsequently increasing appetite and causing weight gain.[21] Meditating, creating a sleep schedule, and/or utilising sleep treatments after consulting a pharmacist or GP can help with getting adequate sleep.

How to increase sex drive during menopause

It is possible to increase sex drive during menopause by replenishing the body’s levels of oestrogen through HRT. This is because oestrogen has been found to modulate sexual desire in women.[22]

With that said, a woman’s sex drive naturally falls with age and HRT can only reverse this process to a certain extent.

How to reverse hair thinning after menopause

Hair thinning after menopause can be reversed by using hair loss treatments for women after consulting a GP. It can also be achieved by replenishing the body’s oestrogen levels through HRT. This is because a fall in oestrogen levels causes hair follicles to shrink and produce less hair.[23]

How to treat menopause migraines

The recommended way to treat menopause migraines is by taking migraine treatments after consulting a GP. Menopausal migraines can also be treated by replenishing the body’s levels of oestrogen through HRT. This is because oestrogen helps regulate blood flow to the brain and control inflammation. HRT can make up for a decrease in the body’s oestrogen levels, preventing migraines.

How to treat menopause back and joint pain

The recommended way to immediately relieve back or joint pain felt during menopause is by taking pain relief medication after consulting a pharmacist or GP. It is recommended to strengthen the muscles as this can help with managing pain in the long run.

This can be achieved by strengthening the muscles in the areas likely to be affected through exercise and modifying nutritional intake to increase bone strength as a way of countering the effects of osteoporosis.

Recommended reading: Managing different types of pain

How to treat menopause body odour

It is possible to treat menopause body odour by replenishing oestrogen levels in the body through HRT. Oestrogen plays an important role in regulating sweat glands; when oestrogen levels decline, sweat glands can become more active.[24]

HRT can help replenish oestrogen lost during menopause, leading to better sweat gland regulation and decreased sweat production.

Order menopause treatments conveniently from Pharmica

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In addition to providing treatments for an array of conditions, we offer research-backed advice on our Health Hub and every article we publish is medically reviewed by our expert pharmacy team.

Explore our full range of treatments today.

  1. NHS England. (2017). Menopause in the workplace. Available at:,can%20last%20for%20several%20years [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  2. UCL. (2023). Nine in ten women were never educated about menopause. UCL News. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  3. NHS. (2019). Menopause. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  4. NIA. (2017). What is Menopause? National Institute on Aging. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  5. Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause. Harvard Women's Health Watch. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  6. WHO. (2020). Menopause. World Health Organization. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  7. Age UK. (2020). Menopause symptoms and support. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  8. NHS inform. (2020). Signs and symptoms of menopause. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  9. British Menopause Society. (2023). What is the menopause? Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  10. The North American Menopause Society. (2015). Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  11. NHS. (2019). About hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  12. British Menopause Society. (2023) Menopause, Nutrition and Weight Gain. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  13. NHS. (2019). About insulin. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  14. CDC. (2019). The Role of Fiber in Diabetes Management. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA). Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  15. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories. Mayo Clinic. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  16. Lindh-Astrand et al. (2002). 'Effects of applied relaxation on vasomotor symptoms in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial', Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 81(7), pp. 637–644. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0412.2002.810705.x.
  17. Wroble et al. (2009). 'The role of estrogen in muscle and bone health across the lifespan', Advances in Physiology Education, 33(3), pp. 109–115. doi:10.1152/advan.90111.2008.
  18. Phillips et al. (1993). 'Muscle weakness in women occurs at an earlier age than in men, but strength is preserved by hormone replacement therapy', Clinical Science, 84(1), pp. 95–98.
  19. Bove et al. (2018). 'Dietary intake patterns of children and adolescents with low or high adherence to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet', Nutrition Research, 51, pp. 1–9.
  20. Bove et al. (2017). 'Development of a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)–like diet score for adolescents', Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 117(6), pp. 865–873.
  21. Harvard Health Publishing. (2020). Snooze more, eat less? Sleep deprivation may hamper weight control. Harvard Health Blog. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  22. Taheri et al. (2004). 'Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index', PLoS Medicine 1(3).
  23. Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Hair Loss in Women. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
  24. WebMD. (2020). Menopause and Sweating. Available at: [Accessed 30th October 2023].
Rehma Gill

Written by: Rehma Gill

Pharmacy Manager・GPHC Number 2225869

Rehma completed her pharmacy degree at the University of Portsmouth in 2019 and went on to complete her internship in community pharmacy. As a pharmacy manager and a responsible pharmacist here at Pharmica, Rehma’s responsibilities include managing day-to-day operations at the pharmacy and ensuring we provide outstanding service to our patients.

Carolina Goncalves

Medically Reviewed by: Carolina Goncalves

Superintendent Pharmacist・GPHC Number 2088658

Carolina Goncalves is the Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmica, where she ensures patients receive exceptional healthcare and support, as part of a seamless online pharmacy service.

With a comprehensive professional background spanning more than 13 years, Carolina has extensive experience supporting Men’s and Women’s health. Carolina is responsible for providing expert treatment advice to thousands of patients in areas such as Sexual Health, Erectile Dysfunction, Hair Loss, Weight Loss and Asthma.

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