Menopause isn’t something that just happens in your 40s and 50s. It can happen across a whole range of different ages for many reasons, including premature menopause or after certain surgical procedures or cancer treatments. Yet for many young women, menopause might feel like an abstract concept that doesn’t really affect them. Combined with a lack of education about menopause for decades, it’s not difficult to see why young women don’t understand what it could be like for them.
To highlight the expansive knowledge gap, we asked young British women aged 18-34 what they do and don’t know about menopause. The results were surprising…
Nearly a fifth of young British women don’t know how menopause might affect their body
Almost a fifth (18%) of the young women we surveyed said they don’t know what changes menopause will have on their bodies. A similar number (19%) of women responded saying that they felt they didn’t know enough about menopause and its symptoms.
Despite the lack of knowledge about menopause, 19% of young women say they think about menopause all the time. Without the appropriate education about menopause means women don’t realise they are experiencing menopause symptoms and what help and support are available.
Women do know about some of the most common menopause symptoms
Symptoms of menopause can include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, painful sex, low mood and anxiety, reduced sex drive, and problems with memory and concentration.
When given a list of symptoms, the top symptoms that young women knew about were:
- Hot flushes – 68%
- Night sweats – 61%
- Weight gain – 52%
- Mood swings – 51%
- Fatigue – 50%
These are some of the most common symptoms of menopause, according to the NHS, so it is not surprising that these were the most recognisable signs for young women to spot.
The complexity is that experiencing these symptoms might not mean that you’re menopausal – some of these symptoms may happen to many women. It is the slow creep of experiencing a mix of these symptoms and when they start to affect your life that could signal menopause. If this is you, talk to your doctor for medical advice.
Problems with sex were not recognised as menopause symptoms
Some menopause symptoms were less well-known.
- Acne – 21%
- Painful sex – 24%
- Aches and joint pain – 24%
- Headaches – 24%
- Heart palpitations – 25%
Of the women we surveyed, 68% didn’t know low sex drive was a symptom. Your sex drive can change during menopause thanks to fluctuating hormone levels, but it doesn’t mean the end of your sex life. Menopausal symptoms like this are so much easier to manage when you know what to expect during menopause.
To learn more about menopause and sex, read our top five tips for menopause and libido.
That lack of understanding impacts some of the less well-known symptoms. Hot flashes and night sweats might be relatively common knowledge, but just one fifth (21%) of the women we surveyed knew that women can experience hormonal acne while going through perimenopause and menopause. This can be a difficult thing to deal with, both physically and emotionally, particularly within the workplace.
Find out more about changes in your skin that can happen in our guide to menopause and skin changes.
What do British women think about menopause education?
As menopause is something every woman goes through, menopause education must reach all age groups. Our survey revealed that, surprisingly, 25-35-year-olds appeared to have a poorer understanding of menopause symptoms than 18-24-year olds. This highlights how important it is for everyone with menopause symptoms to have received a decent education on what menopause might mean for them.
To find out more and discover genuine stories from women about their menopause, read The Latest from Stella. If you feel like you need extra help, then find support with Stella – our app can help you manage menopause symptoms confidentially and discreetly, so you can get on with your life.