Around 60% of unpaid carers are women. Most women will experience symptoms of menopause – some women will experience few, or no, symptoms, but for others they can be quite severe and have a significant impact on all aspects of everyday life, including caring for a loved one.
Whilst each individual will experience menopause differently, some carers going through menopause may find that their feelings of irritability, confusion, depression and fatigue become intensified when the challenges of caring for a loved one collide with the physical and mental consequences of fluctuating hormones.
What are the first signs of menopause?
The first sign of menopause is usually a change in the normal pattern of your periods. You may start having either unusually light or heavy periods.
The frequency of periods may also be affected. They may occur every two or three weeks, or they might not occur for months at a time. Eventually, periods will stop altogether, although for some women other menopause symptoms may continue.
Some women can start experiencing symptoms such as migraines, irritability and low mood, especially around the period time, without seeing irregularity in periods.
There are many menopausal symptoms and these can differ between individuals. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Hot flushes
- A change to periods
- ‘Brain fog’ and memory issues
- Difficulty sleeping
- Night sweats
- Anxiety or low mood
- Joint aches
- Change to libido
- Weight gain
These symptoms can increase the stresses of caring, and so it is essential to find time to focus on yourself where possible. It can be challenging to look after our own health and wellbeing when we care for someone else, especially when we are experiencing shifts and changes ourselves.
The NHS has a more detailed list of menopause symptoms and Carers Trust also has useful information for carers who are experiencing menopause, which can be found here.
What treatments are available for menopause?
Your GP is the best person to speak to, or you could find a local menopause clinic. You can find your nearest clinic through the British Menopause Society.
See our section on Keeping Well which may also help with some of your symptoms.