I found that the advice and information on www.woman2womanhealth.co.uk was very helpful. The Times, February 3 2007

An Introduction to the Menopause

Jan Clark - Author
Written by
Jan Clark

Menopause happens to every woman between the ages of 50+ and 55+. It occurs at an earlier age if she has undergone gynaecological surgery, e.g hysterectomy. Unlike other changes that affect our bodies, such as pregnancy, menopause is something about which we have no choice.

The expectations that you have about the menopause will depend greatly on your own sense of worth and identity. Research has shown that the better a woman feels about herself and her life, the easier time she will have during the menopause.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the menopause?

A. The menopause is your final menstrual period. Determining the date of your menopause can only be done retrospectively after you have been free of menstruation for a year.

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Q. What does it mean to ‘go through the menopause’?

A. Unless you have had a hysterectomy, cessation of menstruation is an erratic process; periods may come late or early, may be short or long, light or heavy - or vanish for months and then suddenly reappear. It can take between two and five years to complete and enormous changes will take place in your body as it acquires a new balance with lower levels of hormones. This process is called the peri-menopause.

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Q. How do I know if I am in my peri-menopause?

A. The signs that herald its arrival are varied, but you will become aware of physical changes, such as irregular periods, flushes and night sweats. At least 80% of us experience hot flushes to some degree.

You can assess your situation by printing and completing this menopausal symptom chart.

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Q. Why do hot flushes happen?

A. Because of changes in our hormonal levels. Hormones are chemical substances which circulate around our bodies via the bloodstream. Of especial importance to us are the three hormones produced by the ovaries :

Fluctuating hormone levels vary throughout our lives, influencing our moods, activities and sensitivities. Many hormones affect the urges, desires and feelings which are yours, and nobody else’s.

This is why we women respond to menopause in a uniquely individual way, as you can see by correspondence I received when writing my books.

I get hot flushes all the time, night sweats which wake me up, breast tenderness, memory and concentration problems, weepiness, mood swings, generally feeling wretched etc etc. On one occasion I have gone out leaving a gas ring on, and I have difficulty remembering conversations. I think my husband thinks I am going mad, and occasionally it does feel like that! - Sarah (Glasgow)
I got a warm feeling at the base of my spine that would radiate up to my shoulders. The night sweats were very trying, and I moved into the spare bedroom until they stopped - Jane (Southampton)

There is no quick-fix solution to distressing menopausal symptoms but I hope you will find my website helpful.

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About the Author - Jan Clark

Jan Clark - AuthorI have written magazine and newspaper features about health issues for many years, as well as co-founding a local hysterectomy support network. My career as a professional relationship counsellor enables me to advise and support hundreds of women before and after this major operation.

For some, a hysterectomy coincides with the menopause, very often a physically and emotionally difficult time for women. Woman2WomanHealth offers them a sustaining lifeline based on knowledge, understanding and shared concerns.

But even my work, and experience as a disabled daughter, wife, mother and grandmother, ill-prepared me for the shock and challenges when my late husband was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Its outcome was to reinforce my empathy with issues surrounding bereavement and how to survive it.

I am the author of Hysterectomy and the Alternatives (Virago 1993, 2nd edition Vermilion 2000), HRT and the Natural Alternatives (Hamlyn 2003) and Natural Menopause (Hamlyn 2004).

Email me at .


Hysterectomy and the Alternatives by Jan Clark (Vermillion)
Hysterectomy and the Alternatives
(2nd edition Vermilion 2000)
HRT & the Natural Alternatives by Jan Clark (Hamlyn)
HRT and the Natural Alternatives
(Hamlyn 2003)
Natural Menopause by Jan Clark (Hamlyn)
Natural Menopause
(Hamlyn 2004)