The menopause is defined as when your periods have stopped for a full 12 months and you are no longer able to get pregnant.

Why does the menopause happen?

The menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing eggs and the levels of your hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone fluctuate and fall. As these hormones become more erratic this is generally what leads to the typical perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.

What is the average age to start the menopause?

The average age of this happening is 51 but it generally occurs anywhere between the ages of 45-55. You can have symptoms leading up to this point for anything up to 12 years (known as the perimenopause phase). The menopause generally follows three key phases: the perimenopause followed by the menopause and then post menopause (having gone a full two years without a period you are said to be in the postmenopausal).

What are the first signs of the menopause?

The menopause is, of course, different for every woman. We are all unique and the way the perimenopause or menopause affects you may be nothing like the way it has affected your friends or relatives (if you even know how it has affected them). Sometimes the perimenopausal phase can hit women as young as 30-something. Perimenopause can last anywhere between a few months to over a decade . The most common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, interrupted sleep, memory problems, mood swings and anxiety (and possibly many more as yet not fully attributed).

For more support and advice, head back to our dedicated menopause guide