In the UK, 51 is the average age for a woman to reach the menopause, although some women may experience the menopause in their 30s or 40s.
If you experience the menopause before the age of 40 it is known as a Premature Menopause.
Menstruation (monthly periods) can sometimes stop suddenly when you reach the menopause. However, it's more likely that your periods will become less frequent, with longer intervals between each one, before they stop altogether.
In women under 50 years of age, the menopause is diagnosed after 24 months without a period. In women aged 50 or over, it is diagnosed after 12 months without a period.
The Cause of Menopause
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body's sex hormones.
In the lead-up to the menopause (perimenopause), oestrogen levels decrease, causing the ovaries to stop producing an egg each month (ovulation). Oestrogen is the female sex hormone that regulates a woman's periods.
The reduction in oestrogen causes physical and emotional symptoms, including:
Low sex drive
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.
It's worth talking to your GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you're experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
Your 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.
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