Tired, irritable, uncontrollably moody: and so goes the well-worn stereotype of the menopausal woman. But why, and how did this awful perception come about if menopause is natural: something every single woman will experience in their lifetime? Surely, by now we’d have a better idea of what menopause actually is, and what to expect when it’s time for your body to cease menstruating?
You’d hope so. But, unfortunately, you’d be wrong.
We spoke to 1,000 different women across the UK about how they experience menopause, and found that, despite only 17.9% saying they had experienced no symptoms, almost half were unaware that perimenopause, the lead-up to the point where your body ceases to ovulate, even exists. And, on top of that, a whopping near 90% said they wanted more help and information for women going through perimenopause. Which is precisely the informational gap we’ve set out to fill.
What we found, above all, is that not only do all women experience menopausal symptoms differently in terms of the biology at play, but are affected emotionally in different ways, too: particularly where it came to confidence, libido, and depression. Women differed in attitude towards different treatment options, too, which changed as they got older. Here’s a full breakdown of the results from our 2015 Menopause survey.
How do you menopause?
Every woman’s body is made up of a different, delicate chemical balance. It’s hardly surprising then that different women, who have diets and lifestyles specific to them, experienced menopausal symptoms in unique ways. Women also had different attitudes and understandings of the treatment options available to them, particularly where it came to apprehension in taking HRT.
Hot flushes and night sweats were the most commonly experienced menopausal symptom (43.8%), followed by trouble sleeping (39.7%), and mood swings/ sudden tears (34%)
Hot flushes and night sweats were also named the worst symptom of menopause (30.4%)
29.2% of women said they had to make changes in their lives to deal with menopausal symptoms
With a lack of knowledge and understanding of menopausal symptoms came reluctance to visit the GP for help and advice: just over a third of women went to see the GP about their symptoms, and, of this number, 38.1% were recommended anti-depressants, despite the fact that only 15.9% reported experiencing depression as a symptom of menopause. Where it came to considering HRT, women were more likely to be willing as they got older, with 22.5% of 40-44 year olds considering it as an option, vs. 31.4% of 50-55 year olds.
49.7% overall considered HRT to be unsafe, with just 26.7% considering it as a treatment option
The vast majority of all women (87.1%) would rather treat their symptoms naturally
As women got older (40-55), they were more likely to see the GP about their symptoms: 29% of women aged 40-44 went to the GP vs. 45.9% of women aged 50-55
Women were more likely to consider treatment as they got older, with 47.8% of 40-44 year olds taking no treatment, vs. 37.2% of 50-55 year olds
Depression, confidence, libido
There’s no doubt that going through menopause brings on a particular kind of emotional strain: perhaps your kids have just moved out, or perhaps you’re having trouble coming to terms with the fact that your body is changing, and bringing on a number of new, perhaps unpleasant symptoms. Or maybe you simply, inexplicably, feel down.
61.4% of women were made to feel anxious from the effects of perimenopause
71.1% of women have suffered from low mood due to their symptoms
63.9% felt their mental state was affected by experiencing menopausal symptoms
50.1% of women experienced a loss of confidence since experiencing menopausal symptoms
Almost half (48.7%) of women felt less attractive because of their symptoms
Confidence was the most common reason why women felt they had the best sex of their lives (43.2%), which most said was when aged 21-25. Over half of menopausal women (59.1%) reported having a low libido, with less than a third saying they had had sex with their partner in the last week. Most women said they had the worst sex from the ages of 41-45.
59.8% said they had gone off sex as they’ve become older
Of these, 54.4% said it was because they had no libido, 53.9% said they couldn’t be bothered, and 31.8% said it was because they had put on weight
44% of women felt it was natural to go off sex due to menopause
Women felt they had the worst sex because they had no energy (35.9%), they had no sex drive (30.9%), and because they hated their body (25.9%)
Our survey was taken in January, 2015, by 1,000 women across the UK, aged 40-55.
For more information about our survey, or any of our statistics, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Monica Karpinski
Monica Karpinski is a London-based writer and content manager. Avidly interested in nutrition, she has written widely on health, lifestyle and women’s well being.