The menopause is sometimes known as the 'change of life' and is marked by the ending of menstruation (when a woman's periods stop).
A woman’s periods do not usually stop suddenly. They generally become less frequent, the odd period is missed and then they stop altogether.
In the UK, the average agefor a woman to reach the menopause is 52.
A woman is said to have reached the menopause once she has not had a period for one year. After this point, she can be described as post-menopausal.
If the menopause occurs in a woman who is under 45 years of age, it is known as premature menopause. It is estimated that premature menopause affects 1% of women under the age of 40 and 0.1% of women under the age of 30.
Most women reach the menopause without seeking medical advice. However, treatments are available that can ease menopausal symptoms that are severe or distressing.