What is menopause?

Menopause is the general term used to describe the time in a woman’s life when she may experience symptoms related to fluctuating and ultimately falling hormone levels, when she will eventually stop having monthly periods. Where menopause technically is just one moment in time, one year after periods stop, the menopause transition may last a number of years.

Why does it happen?

Females are born with a number of eggs in their ovaries.  Menopause happens when the ovaries are running out of eggs.  As the egg store declines, associated levels of hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, begin to fluctuate and eventually fail.  The body has to adjust to fluctuating hormone levels and this can result in symptoms for some people. The average time span for menopause symptoms is between four and eight years.

Stages of menopause:


The time when hormone levels start to fluctuate and you may experience menopause symptoms

which could include anxiety, low mood, hot flushes, brain fog and vaginal dryness, amongst many others. Periods can change and become heavier, lighter, closer together or further apart.  Perimenopause can last for a number of years before a person reaches the menopause.


Defined by 12 consecutive months without a period.


The time in your life after menopause.   Symptoms of hormonal change can continue to change for a number of years  following the menopause.

When does menopause happen?

The average age for a woman in the UK to experience a natural menopause is 51, however, some women will experience it earlier or later than this. 1 in 100 will go through menopause prematurely under the age of 40, this is also called POI (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency). 1 in 1000 will go through menopause under 30, and 1 in 10,000 under 20. It is also possible to go through menopause surgically (when a person’s ovaries are removed), and medically (when medical treatment disrupts ovarian function).

Have a look at the symptom checker to help you identify if you are having symptoms, and for more information about Menopause, download Menopause Supports, Understanding Menopause booklet. If you are struggling with symptoms, speak to friends, family, your GP or find a menopause specialist.

Don’t live with it or ignore it, be proactive and bang the table to get the help you need