Skip to main content Skip to footer

Nutrition and menopause

What is the menopause?

The menopause is a natural life stage that can affect all women differently.


During the menopause, you gradually produce less of a hormone called oestrogen and, in the end, your periods stop. There are also changes in other hormones and these changes can have wide effects.  


Menopause is when your periods stop for 12 consecutive months. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years, however, for a few women, it can occur earlier. This is known as premature menopause. 

  • Premature menopause (also called premature ovarian insufficiency) is when your periods stop before the age of 40 years. Around 1 in 100 women experience premature menopause.  

The menopause is a life stage that all women experience, but the timing and symptoms can be different for everyone.  


Speak with your GP before taking any herbal remedies or supplements for managing menopausal symptoms, as they may have side effects or interact with other medications. 

What are the symptoms?

The menopause affects every woman differently.


If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, you are not alone - 8 out of 10 women experience symptoms that typically last for about 4 years after their last period. Some women will experience no, or few, symptoms.


However, for many, they can be quite severe and have a significant impact on everyday life.  


Some common symptoms are: 

  • hot flushes (sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest) and night sweats 
  • mood changes (such as anxiety and depression) 
  • loss of memory and concentration (sometimes referred to as ‘brain fog’) 
  • vaginal dryness 
  • urinary problems 
  • lack of interest in sex 
  • sleep disturbances 
  • headaches 
  • reduced muscle mass 
  • heart palpitations 
  • joint and muscle stiffness or pain. 

How can I manage menopausal symptoms?

The good news is that there are ways of managing symptoms and there are some positive lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy, varied diet and building more exercise into your daily routine that can improve some menopausal symptoms.


These changes can also help to lower the risk of some of the longer-term health concerns linked with the menopause that we may not be so aware of including osteoporosis (a condition that weakens bones) and cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke).

These include:

Eating a healthy, varied diet

Including plenty of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, calcium-rich foods and low-fat dairy products

Caffeine and alcohol

Having a moderate intake of caffeine and alcohol

Being physically active

For at least 150 minutes over a week, including weight-bearing activities on two or more days of the week  

Maintaining a healthy weight

Through eating a healthy, varied diet and regular exercise.

Can a healthy, balanced diet help with menopausal symptoms?

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can help to support a healthy weight and relieve some menopausal symptoms.


Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, high-fibre foods (such as wholegrains), dairy or dairy alternatives, a range of protein sources (especially beans, peas and lentils) and small amounts of unsaturated fats (such as olive or rapeseed oil).


You should be able to get the nutrients you need from a healthy balanced diet. There is no supplement that supplies the same nutritional benefits of a healthy balanced diet. Healthy, balanced diets are not only important for your physical health but for your mental health and wellbeing. Mood changes, anxiety and problems with memory or concentration (brain fog) can be some of the common mental health symptoms of the menopause. 

Nutrition and menopause

We've put together a handy guide to the basics of nutrition and menopause

This information is for women experiencing the menopause.


  • It may also be useful for friends or family members of women experiencing the menopause, or anyone interested in learning more about this subject.
  • It is also important for men to understand the menopause, so they can better support their partners, friends and/or work colleagues.
  • Individuals who identify as non-binary, transgender or from intersex communities can also be affected by the menopause and may experience different menopausal symptoms. 

What are the stages of the menopause?

  • Perimenopause is the time leading up to your final period and can last for a few months or several years. During this time, your periods may become irregular as your oestrogen levels decrease – and you may experience menopausal symptoms. 
  • Postmenopause is the time after menopause starting from when you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months. 

In some cases, the menopause can occur because of surgeries or cancer treatments and symptoms may be more sudden or severe. If you are having treatment for cancer such as cervical or ovarian cancer that removes your ovaries, then you’ll experience surgical menopause after your operation so these stages may not be relevant to you. 

Oestrogen and health

Oestrogen plays an important role in the normal sexual and reproductive development of women. However, it also plays a role in other systems in our body like our bones, heart and brain. 

The loss of oestrogen can lead to menopausal changes and can have an impact on our health and quality of life in the shorter term from menopausal symptoms (such as hot flushes and night sweats, sleep problems, muscle and joint pain, anxiety, depression, low libido).

In the longer term, postmenopausal women have an increased risk of: 

  • higher cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke) 
  • osteoporosis (a condition that weakens bones and makes them break more easily) 
  • weight gain 


Many women struggle to manage to work with their menopausal symptoms. Mood changes or sleep disturbances associated with the menopause can all affect your working life and overall wellbeing at work. A 2022 survey estimates that 1 in 10 women will leave their job due to menopause symptoms affecting them in their workplace. It is important to seek help or advice if your menopause symptoms are affecting your ability to work.


You can find further information about managing menopause in the workplace on the Women’s Health Concern and the TUC websites. 

If you feel like you need more support to manage your symptoms seek medical advice – ideally your GP surgery can give you individual advice on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), non-hormonal medication and/or cognitive therapies, for example cognitive behavioural therapy, a talking therapy that can help with a low mood and feelings of anxiety.

With thanks to The Menopause Charity, Age UK, Target Ovarian Cancer and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for their feedback on our information. 

Find out more about the PIF TICK at

For more information on the sources used in this text please contact 

Last reviewed September 2022. Next review due September 2025. 

Did you find this page useful?

We'd love to hear your feedback. If you would like a response, please contact us.

Please note that advice provided on our website about nutrition and health is general in nature. We do not provide any individualised advice on prevention, treatment and management for patients or their family members.