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What is the menopause? A quick guide

Menopause essentials: short articles to help you get to the heart of the issue

Think you might be menopausal and looking for a simple explanation of menopause? This article sets out what you need to know.

What is the menopause?

The menopause is when your ovaries stop producing eggs and levels of hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone fall. The clinical definition of menopause is when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months.

The perimenopause is a time directly before menopause, when hormone levels start to decline and you are still having periods, however you may notice a change in frequency and flow.

RELATED: What is the perimenopause?

When does the menopause happen?

The average age of menopause is 51, and as a general rule, the perimenopause tends to begin in your early to mid-40s. However, it can happen later or earlier for reasons including genetics or due to surgery or treatment. Menopause before the age of 45 is known as an early menopause, while menopause under the age of 40 is known as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI).

What sort of symptoms can I expect?

Falling hormone levels can trigger a range of menopause-related symptoms, which can include symptoms such as

  • Mood-related symptoms
  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Poor mental focus and concentration
  • Headaches, including more frequent migraines
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary and bladder problems, including urinary tract infections (UTIs).

It’s important to remember that everyone’s menopause is different: you may have no symptoms at all or you may experience a rang of symptoms.

The balance app has a handy symptom tracker where you can track the type, frequency and severity of menopause-related symptoms.

How can I manage my menopause?

The balance website has a host of resources on helping to manage your menopause, looking at treatments, lifestyle changes and mental health resources. Head to our menopause library to find out more.

What is the menopause? A quick guide

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You can browse all our evidence-based and unbiased information in the Menopause Library.