The menopause is when a woman stops having Periods and is no longer able toget pregnant naturally.
Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.
The menopauseis a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline.In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51.
However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known aspremature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.
Common symptoms include:
Menopausalsymptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around four yearsafter your last period,although some women experience them for much longer.
It's worth talking to your GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you're experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
Your GP can usually confirm whether you are menopausal based on your symptoms, but a blood test to measure your hormone levels may be carried out if you're aged 40 to 45.
Blood tests may also be carried out to help diagnose suspected premature menopause if youre under 40 and have menopausal symptoms.
Your GP canoffer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-daylife, including:
Your GP can refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms don't improve after trying treatment or if you're unable to take HRT.
The menopauseis caused by a change in the balance of the body's sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Prematureor early menopausecan occur at any age, and in many cases, there's no clear cause.
Sometimes it's caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy), some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy , or it can be brought on by an underlying medical condition, such as Down's syndrome or Addison's disease .
The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Read more about the symptoms, causes and treatments.
Find out about the different symptoms of the menopause, including hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido, a change in monthly periods and vaginal dryness.
Read about the main treatments for symptoms of the menopause, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the alternatives.