Signs & symptoms of pregnancy or menopause

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Signs & symptoms of pregnancy or menopause
Missed periods are a common symptom of both pregnancy and menopause. (Image by, courtesy of spaceodissey)

Depending on a woman's age, missing a period may be a sign of an impending pregnancy or the beginning of the natural process of menopause. It is important to recognise the specific symptoms associated with each in order to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

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Time Frame

Women are considered fertile from the time they experience their first period until they complete menopause, which means they have not had a period for 12 consecutive months. According to, the average age of menopause is 51, with most women reaching menopause between the ages of 45 and 55.

Signs of Pregnancy

One of the first signs of pregnancy is a missed period. Implantation bleeding, which is light pink or brown in colour, that occurs at the time a woman's period is scheduled to begin is also a common symptom of pregnancy. Additional symptoms can include swollen, tender breasts, fatigue, morning sickness, backaches, headaches, frequent urination, darkening of the areolas and food cravings.

Signs of Menopause

Women entering menopause may notice irregular or missed periods, which lead to a decrease in fertility. Other signs of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, incontinence, fatigue, memory problems, mood swings, weight gain and changes in skin texture.


It is sometimes believed a woman cannot get pregnant while she is going through the process of menopause. While fertility decreases dramatically as the ovaries begin to produce less viable eggs more sporadically, if at all, a woman can still become pregnant until post-menopause is reached.


Any woman who has missed a period should take a home pregnancy test, especially if they are of menopausal age, are experiencing other menopause symptoms and have had unprotected sex. It is important to contact a doctor if you are menopausal and pregnant since certain treatments for menopause may harm a growing foetus.

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