Menopause

Introduction 

Video: menopause

Two women describe their experience of the menopause and a GP explains how it can affect women’s bodies.

Menopause myths

  • You cannot get pregnant after the menopause
    FALSE. It can and does happen, so carry on using contraception for two years after your last period if you are under 50 and for one year if you are over 50.
  • You are going to put on weight
    FALSE. Middle-age spread is often linked to the hormonal changes at this time of life but, as yet, there is no proof of this. Those extra inches could just be part of growing older and being less active.
  • Your menopause will be difficult because your mum’s was
    FALSE. There is no evidence that this is the case, although the age at which your mum went through the menopause could give you a clue as to when to expect symptoms. This is because the age of menopause tends to be similar in mothers and daughters.

The menopause is sometimes known as the 'change of life' and is marked by the ending of menstruation (when a woman's periods stop).

A woman’s periods do not usually stop suddenly. They generally become less frequent, the odd period is missed and then they stop altogether.

When it happens

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 52.

A woman is said to have reached the menopause once she has not had a period for one year. After this point, she can be described as post-menopausal.

If the menopause occurs in a woman who is under 45 years of age, it is known as premature menopause. It is estimated that premature menopause affects 1% of women under the age of 40 and 0.1% of women under the age of 30.

What happens?

During the time leading up to the menopause (perimenopause), the hormonal and biological changes that are associated with the menopause begin. As a result of these hormonal changes, many women experience both physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats and irritability (see Symptoms of menopause for more information).

The menopause is the end of egg production (ovulation). This occurs as a result of falling levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen, which regulates a woman's periods.

Treatments

Most women reach the menopause without seeking medical advice. However, treatments are available that can ease menopausal symptoms that are severe or distressing (see Treatment for menopause for more information).

Last reviewed: 11/03/2010

Next review due: 11/03/2012

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carolynb said on 04 February 2010

Hello i have been menopausel for about a year now can anyone give me some advice on how to cope with greasey hair, my hair has always been dry, now i have to wash it every morning. Any advice would be most welcome.Carolyn.

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Mukesh Raghav said on 19 October 2009

The Menopause is really mysterious , no doubt it is physiological , but time period is ranging from 40 to 52 years in different parts of the world. Osteoporesis usually don't starts immediately after it as level of oestrogen does not diminish suddenly. The cause of osteoporosis is mainly lack of oestrogen which usually take place at the time of menopause.

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hormones said on 03 August 2009

I had a bit of accident which left me partially disabled. after amost 15yrs of marriage with no warning. my husband decided to pack up and leave me while i was still very ill laying flat on the floor. he just walked out as he couldnt handle me being ill. from that time bk in 2002 when i was just 45yr old. that was the last time i saw a period. they just stopped dead, apart from one very slight bleed only for day just couple months later but nothing else since,. i had no warning etc. i had bn having hot flshes etc for mayb yr or more but still had periods. i have heard that shock sometimes can stop a period but i dont no how true. i am now just 52yr old and still never seen a period. has anyone any ideas or suggestions.I have since been diagnosed with osteoporsis which is causing some pain in joints etc, i feel i am falling apart lol. i am certainly past even thinking of having more children so that is not the reason i am asking.

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