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Millions of women experience menopause symptoms without realising cause, poll suggests

By Charlotte Minett
Getty Images

Millions of women suffering with sleep difficulty, stiff joints and hair loss are unaware these are symptoms of the menopause.

Brittle nails and mood swings are also commonly experienced during this change, according to a poll of 1,000 women.

Research found it took an average of five months for women to realise they were going through menopause while suffering symptoms.

As many as 57 per cent struggled to accept they were experiencing the change as they did not want to admit they were getting old, and a further three in 10 did not expect it to hit so soon.

Meanwhile, more than one-third felt they did not know enough ahead of time about the changes their body would face, with as many as 47 per cent wishing they knew more about the menopause process.

Grey hair, loss of periods, hot flushes and weight gain were the top signs of ageing the respondents noticed.

Six in 10 associated hair loss with male ageing, but only 4 per cent considered this a key sign of the ageing process for women. A further 64 per cent were unaware that thinning hair was part of the menopause process, even though 32 per cent experienced hair thinning.

Women’s health expert Dr Gabrielle Macaulay, working with Nioxin, which commissioned the survey, said: “There are many signs of menopause, often symptoms are so subtle, not many put two and two together.

“Hot flushes and loss of periods are the obvious signs many women lookout for, but few actually know that hair thinning and loss can happen with the hormonal changes that occur during menopause.

“It’s a daunting thing to go through changes in our body that we aren’t expecting, so there should be more discussion around the topic.”

Of those who experienced hair thinning, one-quarter were left feeling helpless as they did not know what to do. Two in 10 said they felt ugly, and more than half (56 per cent) said they would prefer to try to prevent hair thinning rather than cure it.

As many as one-third of women admitted the menopause was not what they expected, with nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) revealing they never learnt about it before going through it. A similar proportion of respondents felt the subject was taboo.

Mark Blake, from Nioxin, said: ‘’A few years before the onset of the menopause, females start a phase called perimenopause where the ovaries start to make less estrogen.

“Perimenopause is the start of huge physical changes the body has to adapt to; this is when thinning hair usually starts to happen.

“You don’t usually notice hair thinning until you have lost around 50 per cent of your hair’s density, so it may not be noticed until you actually get to menopause itself, even though it has been happening for the last couple of years.

“The best way to deal with menopausal hair thinning is to start treating the problem sooner rather than later so you can nip it in the bud before it becomes noticeable.”

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Dive Deeper:
‘This is scandalous’: Superdrug accused of ‘cashing in’ after launching £99 perimenopause screenings
‘A high street store trying to take advantage of the increased profile that the menopause has had,’ says MP
Menopause: HRT's brain-protecting effect may be overstated
Many women expect hot flushes, dry skin and night sweats when they reach the menopause. But the effect the menopause…
The bowel cancer 'signs' which Deborah James experienced before she was diagnosed
In January 2017, Deborah took to her blog to write about the symptoms she believed were signs of cancer
Best pelvic floor trainers for new mums to suit all budgets
Want to regain strength in your pelvic floor? These products can help you get there
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Doctor issues warning over menopause drug mistakes as women face shortage
The GP says women should not try two common hacks to replace their missing meds
Four strange Covid symptoms you might not have heard about
Emerging data is increasingly showing us that COVID symptoms can go beyond what you might expect
Get all your news in one place