'I am haywire. I'm up, down, hot, cold. I'm all over the place.' This is how Whoopi Goldberg, 55, describes menopause.

Cape Town - “I am haywire. I’m up, down, hot, cold. I’m all over the place.”

This is how Whoopi Goldberg, 55, describes menopause.

She said it turned her life upside down.

One of the major changes the actress noticed was in her sex drive: “One minute I’m like, ‘Yeah! I can’t wait for it’. The next I’m saying, ‘Oh, God, go away’.”

As women our bodies have to endure many changes and if getting your period, going through pregnancy and giving birth isn’t bad enough, the ending of our productive cycle seems just as bad.

If you’re there yet or steadily approaching it, menopause is one of those natural phases we’ll all have to go through.

There is no way to predict when an individual will enter menopause, but the average age of menopause is 51.

Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, but menopause may occur as early as the 30s or 40s or may not occur until a woman reaches her 60s.

Each woman’s experience is different. Some women may experience few or no symptoms of menopause, while others experience multiple physical and psychological symptoms.

Here are symptoms of menopause and perimenopause to look out for:

* Irregular vaginal bleeding may occur during menopause. Menstrual periods may occur more frequently, or they may get further and further apart before stopping. Women who are perimenopausal may still fall pregnant until they have reached true menopause (the absence of periods for one year) and should still use contraception.

* Hot flushes are common during this time. It’s a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body and is often most pronounced in the head and chest. Hot flushes usually last from 30 seconds to several minutes. Sometimes hot flushes are accompanied by night sweats. This may lead to awakening and difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep and daytime tiredness.

* Vaginal symptoms occur as a result of the lining tissues of the vagina becoming thinner, drier, and less elastic as oestrogen levels fall. Symptoms may include vaginal dryness, itching or irritation and/or pain with sexual intercourse.

* Women in peri-menopause often report a variety of thinking (cognitive) and/or emotional symptoms, including fatigue, memory problems, irritability and rapid changes in mood.

* Some women experience weight gain during menopause. The distribution of body fat may change, with body fat being deposited more in the waist and abdominal area than in the hips and thighs.

* Changes in skin texture, including wrinkles, may develop along with worsening of adult acne in those affected by this condition. Since the body continues to produce small levels of the male hormone testosterone, some women may experience some hair growth on the chin, upper lip, chest or abdomen. - Daily Voice