Ahead of World Menopause Awareness Month in October, a survey by Forth has discovered just how little people in the UK understand about the perimenopause, with 58% of women and 81% of men unaware how the transition affects the female body.

The Menopause and the Silent Sufferer Survey of 2001 people also discovered that 60% of women don’t feel comfortable talking about their experience to their partner, around half won’t speak to their family about it, and one in ten wouldn’t feel comfortable talking with anyone at all. And while only 10% of men understand what the perimenopause is or the age women are likely to start experiencing symptoms, a massive 75% of women don’t understand this either.

When it comes to symptoms, although most respondents could cite hot flushes, irregular periods and difficulty sleeping, a third incorrectly listed increased hair growth (31%) and vitamin deficiencies (31%) as symptoms. Surprisingly, this misconception was more common among women than men. Half of respondents didn’t associate the perimenopause with difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression or memory loss, and only one in five knew that irregular heartbeat can be a symptom.

Menopause is a normal physiological process in a woman’s life,” explains Forth’s chief medical officer and endocrinology Dr Nicky Keay. “Understanding and being prepared for this phase in your life will mean you are in a good position to meet the challenges of this life stage and to maintain your quality of life.

“With increasing life expectancy, women are spending more time of their life in the menopausal state. So, looking for strategies to enjoy this part of your life is time well spent.”