World Menopause Awareness Day 2023 and World Menopause Month

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World Menopause Day takes place on 18 October 2023. This year it focuses on raising awareness of menopause and cardiovascular health and we get to the very heart of why exactly this is such a crucial, and potentially life-saving, issue.

It might surprise you to know that coronary heart disease kills twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK every year.[1] Or that around 3.6million women are known to be living with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), the primary cause of heart attacks.[2]

Significantly, coronary heart disease is also very much a menopausal woman’s issue because prior to the menopause a woman’s hormones give some protection against CHD. However following the sharp decline of heart-protective oestrogen (it safeguards the arteries from a build-up of fatty plaque and helps maintain safe levels of cholesterol, amongst other things) women of menopausal age are at an increased risk – and that risk rises the older a woman gets.

The fact is, and this is why World Menopause Day and Month turning the spotlight on the issue is so important, that CHD has tended to be seen as primarily a male health concern. And yet heart disease is the leading cause of death in women not just in the UK but globally.[3] That this statistic has failed to grab headlines is not helped by the fact that the recurring image of a heart attack in dramas remains that of a man loosening his tie and clutching at his chest and collapsing. It is hard to think of a single representation in popular culture of a woman ever having a heart attack or talking about her dicky heart so we are left assuming that is something that largely troubles men. Except it isn’t.

It should also be pointed out that women tend to present with different symptoms to men – they don’t automatically experience crippling chest pain and are more likely to suffer with a pain in the arm, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing and feel sick, sweaty, anxious, panicky and dizzy.[4] This lack of recognition has put women at a considerable disadvantage when it comes to heart and circulatory disease – not least because many trials, studies and potential treatments have been carried on men only. Shockingly around 8,000 female deaths are said to be attributable to ‘unequal heart attack care’.[5]

What we do know so far from recent research is that women who start their periods younger (before the age of 10) or after the age of 17 or older[6], go through an early or premature menopause[7], have children at a young age,  give birth to three or more children or have a miscarriage or stillbirth are linked to an increased risk of heart and circulatory disease.[8] As things stand, more research is needed to understand precisely why these factors are significant.

Working with the available research we have we know that age, reproductive factors and oestrogen deficiency during menopause are recognised risk factors but others include (and the more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of CHD):

  • a family history of heart disease
  • being overweight
  • having high blood pressure
  • having high cholesterol
  • being a smoker
  • not getting regular exercise.

The more we know and understand about women and cardiovascular health and the risks around the time of menopause the better our chances of recognising it and doing something about it. There are lifestyle changes that can help including adopting a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, stopping smoking and taking regular exercise. Any woman over 40 should take advantage of free NHS health checks which will ascertain her risk of cardiovascular disease and check blood pressure and cholesterol. There is also a free online Heart Age Test from NHS England which can give you some idea of how healthy your heart is.[9]

And whilst there have been mixed research about the effects of HRT on heart health there is mounting evidence to show if it is started in the early years of the menopause it can have a protective effect.[10]

Whilst research into menopause and cardiovascular health continues we are on a mission to bring you all the latest research and raise more awareness of the issue this World Menopause Day and beyond.

How to know if you’re experiencing perimenopause or menopause

Women’s health expert and GP, Dr Shilpa McQuillan, shares what to expect:

Menopause is diagnosed once a woman has no menstrual periods for 12 months in a row. For many women this occurs between the age of 45 and 55, with the average age in UK being 51.”

Some women do not experience any symptoms, but the majority of women will, and this can really impact on both physical and mental aspects of your life including relationships, work, and activities.”

She adds, “During perimenopause, some women may continue to have regular periods but experience symptoms of menopause. Many women may find these symptoms distressing and confusing as they are not aware that you can experience menopausal symptoms whilst still having periods. Speak to your GP if you feel this could be you and you would like more information on how to manage this. Some women also find it helpful to keep a diary of their periods and the symptoms they are experiencing.”

Read Dr Shilpa’s full article here: Menopause, perimenopause and post-menopause – A GP’s overview

When is World Perimenopause Day 2023?

World Perimenopause Day (launched in 2019 by Health & Her) is an annual awareness day that takes place on 11th October  – one week before World Menopause Day. World Perimenopause Day 2023 aims to raise awareness around the lesser known stage prior to menopause, where hormone levels fluctuate and as a result, women experience an array of menopause symptoms while still having periods.

What are the symptoms?

There are more than 30 recognised symptoms of menopause, and on average, women will experience nine of these*.

The top 9 symptoms of perimenopause are:

  • Period Changes
  • Hot flushes & Night Sweats
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Brain Fog & Poor Concentration
  • Skin & Hair Changes
  • Mood Changes
  • Low Energy
  • Joint & Muscle Aches

The top 9 symptoms of menopause are:

  • Sleeping Problems
  • Hot flushes & Night Sweats
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Weight Gain
  • Low Energy
  • Brain Fog & Poor Concentration
  • Skin Changes
  • Mood Changes
  • Urinary Changes

For many women, Perimenopause and Menopause can be a life changing and isolating experience. But by raising awareness and education we hope to support women in joining the dots as they understand the connection between their symptoms and midlife hormone fluctuations.

Use our perimenopause and menopause symptom checker to help determine if you might be experiencing symptoms.

Track your symptoms with the NEW Health & Her Menopause app

Here is everything you need to know about the Health & Her menopause app

Discover real experiences from the women who’ve been there…

For quite some time I’ve not felt like me – I fly off the handle at the tiniest of things, and the night sweats were out of control. Around February time I started to experience terrible heart palpitations and shortness of breath. I am awful at going to the doctors and tried to ignore it, however after a couple of panic attacks in March, as well as episodes of feeling very sad, low and uncontrollably angry, I felt I needed help, something I hate admitting.

Kate’s story

I had been fast asleep and was awoken by what felt like a train rushing through the room! I immediately leapt up in the bed and looked around wondering where the noise/thumping was coming from – and realised it was coming from inside of me! I tried to take deep breaths and calm myself down and even though my heart wouldn’t stop racing, I stayed as calm as I could...”

Lisa’s story

Read the menopause and perimenopause stories of real women.  

Campaign with us

From campaigning to help women get access to expert information, to sharing your own personal story – your support can help millions of women from around the world to join the dots and take on the change together.

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References and sources












Additional resources:,men%20and%203.6%20million%20women.,in%20the%20UK%20and%20globally,headed%20or%20short%20of%20breath.,-Studies%20show%20that&text=If%20you%20start%20HRT%20before,of%20dying%20from%20cardiovascular%20disease..

*Health & Her Symptom Tool Research conducted with over 50,000 women


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