Renfrewshire Council

Who can experience menopause and what it is

Who can experience menopause, the stages, psychological and physical symptoms of menopause, other people affected by menopause.

Who can experience the menopause

Menopause is a natural stage of life which affects most women and other people who have a menstrual cycle.

This can include:

  • transgender or trans people - people whose gender identity is not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth
  • intersex people - people who have both male and female sex characteristics such as hormones
  • non-binary people - people who may identify as both male and female, neither male and female, or something different.

Stages of menopause

Menopause occurs when someone stops menstruating and reaches the end of their natural reproductive life.

There are three stages of menopause:

  • perimenopause
  • menopause
  • post-menopause.


Perimenopause is the time from the start of menopause symptoms until after someone has experienced their last period.

Periods will usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether.

They might be more irregular and become heavier or lighter. For some people, they can stop suddenly.


Menopause is a natural process due to a change in hormone levels, mainly the hormone oestrogen.

It usually happens between 45 and 55 years of age. It can also happen earlier or later in someone's life.

Menopause symptoms can last around 4 years after menstruation stops, although some people experience them for much longer.


Post-menopause is the stage following menopause starting from when someone has not had a period for 12 consecutive months.

In post-menopause, symptoms of menopause may have eased or stopped entirely, but some people continue to have symptoms for longer.

Early and premature menopause

Early menopause happens when someone stops menstruating before the age of 45.

Premature menopause starts before the age of 40 and can also be referred to as 'premature ovarian insufficiency'.

Early or premature menopause can happen for several reasons including:

  • family genetics
  • health conditions such as certain autoimmune diseases
  • cancer treatments like chemotherapy
  • surgery to the ovaries or the uterus.

Symptoms of menopause

Menopause symptoms can be both physical and psychological.

Below are some of the symptoms that may affect people experiencing menopause.

Psychological symptoms

Psychological symptoms that can impact someone at work can include:

  • low mood, depression or changes in mood
  • nervousness, worry or anxiety, low self-esteem
  • reduced ability to concentrate or focus
  • brain fog' and memory issues.

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms that can impact someone at work can include:

  • hot flushes
  • difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • headaches or migraines
  • joint aches and pains
  • skin changes including dry and itchy skin
  • irregular or heavy periods or bleeding
  • vaginal dryness or pain
  • urinary issues such as increased frequency in needing to go to the toilet.

You can find a list of potential supports and adjustments that can help manage physical and psychological symptoms of menopause at work. These should be considered in the context of the job role and duties of the person experiencing symptoms of menopause.

You can also find out more about menopause and how to manage symptoms on the NHS inform website.

Other people affected by menopause

Other people can be indirectly affected at work if someone they know has symptoms of menopause.

For example, they may experience disrupted sleep and fatigue because their partner, parent or child is experiencing hot flushes at night.

They may also experience increased stress or anxiety levels out of concern for the person experiencing severe menopause symptoms.

In some cases, they may experience relationship problems or other personal difficulties.