Recent research has found that a staggering eight out of ten women experience early symptoms of the menopause. Not only this, they struggle to find the help they need unless they have experienced their last period too.
The menopause is a bodily change that occurs once a woman has her last period. Previous studies over the previous decades have predominantly been focussed on post-period women, whose average age is 52. Studies have also been centered around women who exceed 52 years of age.
Consequently, women who still go through their monthly cycle while experiencing other symptoms of the change can find it hard to get help.
The report found pre-menopausal women in their 40s and early 50s noted a broad range of symptoms, including exhaustion, hot flushes, night sweats and pain.
For more than one in four, the symptoms are often severe, but researchers found many of those are being ignored, and this in spite of the fact that giving women in the initial stages of the menopause with the necessary treatment is paramount in decreasing their risk of developing chronic illness.
Dr Sioban Harlow, the lead author of the research, based at the Centre for Midlife Science at Michigan University, said of the study: “We were surprised to find a quarter of women in this relatively healthy cohort reported a broad range of often severe symptoms prior to the onset of the menopausal transition.”
Dr Harlow added: “Importantly, we observed some women’s symptoms get worse while others improve as they transition through menopause, so this is a critical life phase for intervention.”
The phase is referred to as ‘pre-menopause’; a stage at which women are still experiencing periods on a regular basis, but progesterone and estrogen levels have begun to diminish. The study published in Women’s Midlife Health found one in four experienced problems.
A mathematical model to group 3,289 women, aged 45-52 years, was applied by the authors of the research, going through the different stages of menopause into one of six symptom classes.
In the pre-menopause phase, 10 per cent were considered to be in the highest symptom class, whereby a high concentration of most symptoms of the menopause was reported. These predominate reports were followed by those with moderately intense symptoms, including hot flushes (16 per cent).
This combined 26 per cent were described as ‘highly symptomatic’ by researchers, and most in need of help. Fifty-four per cent of women felt milder symptoms, while just 20 per cent of women experienced no symptoms at all.
Dr Harlow said: “Increased attention to the promotion of physical and mental health in early midlife – in the early to mid-forties – is needed, as women’s health needs and concerns extend far beyond menopausal hot flushes.”
“The way in which some symptoms cluster together may suggest underlying mechanisms, such as inflammation, that put women at risk of disability and chronic disease.
“It is thus important the health care community pays attention to the health needs of the one-quarter of women who are already highly symptomatic prior to the menopausal transition.”
If you are affected by the effects of menopause, and pre-menopause, use our menopause spray, which helps to ease the symptoms.