The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get 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 menopause is 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 as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Symptoms of the menopause
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:
vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
low mood or anxiety
reduced sex drive (libido)
problems with memory and concentration
Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around four years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.
Let Iridium GPs help you :
It's worth talking to our GPs if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you're experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
Our 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 you’re under 40 and have menopausal symptoms.