For the majority of women, the Menopause is a natural physiological process when their ovaries lose their reproductive function, don’t produce enough the essential hormone oestrogen and their periods stop. From the Greek word Menos (monthly) and pausos (ending). Medically, the diagnosis of menopause is made when periods have stopped naturally for 12 months. In the UK, the average age of the natural menopause is 51 years.
The majority of women start to experience symptoms due to the fluctuating and declining levels of hormones in the perimenopause from about the age of 45: it’s the time leading up to their natural menstrual periods completely stopping. 1 in 100 women will experience premature menopause (premature ovarian insufficiency) before the age of 40. Menopause may also be caused by surgical removal of ovaries (immediate menopause) and after some chemotherapy or pelvic radiotherapy. Some women will experience symptoms of the menopause whilst taking some medications including those used for breast cancer, severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and gender transition. Those who identify as non binary, if they have ovaries, can also experience menopause. Postmenopause refers to the time when an individual’s periods have naturally stopped for 12 consecutive months or when their ovaries have been removed surgically.