Stages of Life > Menopause > Menopause - Overview

The Facts About Menopause

Reproductive change is a completely natural process. Here are the details and what to expect.

an older woman in a cream sweater places her head in her hands

Menopause is the process a woman goes through when her body stops producing eggs and she is no longer able to reproduce. Menopause typically begins in women between the ages of 45 and 55 and lasts for around seven years in most cases. The average age for the onset of menopause in American women is 51.

In this guide, you can discover everything you need to know about going through menopause.

Menopause basics

The entire menopause process is broken down into three distinct phases:

  • Perimenopause. The period when your body prepares to stop producing eggs. Associated with lower levels of estrogen and progesterone.
  • Menopause. You have officially reached menopause 12 months after your last period.
  • Postmenopause. After you reach menopause, this is the time frame in which the symptoms typically fade away.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Menopause can result in a number of symptoms, both physical and mental. The major sign that your body is going through menopause is changes to your menstrual cycle. During the early stages of menopause, your periods may be delayed, lighter or simply irregular.

Common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • "Brain fog"

Changes to your sex life, such as vaginal dryness and lower libido


Of course, the early stages of menopause can look different for everyone. If you think you may be going through perimenopause because you are experiencing changes to your menstrual cycle or other symptoms, we recommend speaking to your doctor.

They are usually able to diagnose menopause based on a discussion about your symptoms and an assessment of your profile. In some cases, your doctor may wish to take a blood test to confirm whether or not your body has begun the menopausal process.

When does menopause occur?

For most women, menopause begins between the ages of 45 and 55, however, in some cases, it can begin earlier.

Menopause can last for up to 14 years but typically lasts around seven years for most women.

Why does menopause occur?

Menopause is the process during which the body stops producing eggs. It occurs because the female body stops being reproductive after a certain amount of time. Scientifically, the process occurs because the body stops producing high amounts of estrogen and progesterone.

What can I do about hot flashes?

Hot flashes can be one of the most common symptoms of menopause. They are thought to be caused by a dilation of blood vessels near the skin's surface. They may lead to a flushed look on the skin itself.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for hot flashes, but there are some methods you can try to make them less severe. Lifestyle changes such as layering of clothing, fans and cooling sheets are first-line options. Prescription hormone therapy is one option you may wish to discuss with your doctor. There is some evidence to suggest that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are typically used to treat depression, can help to reduce hot flashes.


There is no official treatment for menopause, but your doctor may be able to help you treat the symptoms that come during the menopausal process. For instance, you may make changes to your home's heating system to manage hot flashes. Some women benefit from playing mind games or doing puzzles to help treat menopause-related brain fog.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is steadily becoming a more popular treatment option to help women manage menopause. Dramatic hormonal changes occur during perimenopause, and HRT acts by replacing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which decrease rapidly during this phase.

While HRT can help you feel more balanced during menopause, there are some potential health risks associated with the treatment, so be sure to discuss this option with your doctor in detail.

Living with menopause

Living with menopause can be challenging. The body goes through hormonal changes during perimenopause that can leave you feeling unbalanced and off-kilter. Emotionally, menopause-related mood swings are fairly common.

However, in some cases, the process can lead to more serious mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression. The physical side effects of menopause, such as hot flashes, weight gain and vaginal dryness, can also be difficult to handle.

In order to make living with menopause a little easier, doctors recommend eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy exercise regimen. It can also be helpful to speak to a mental health professional who can help you develop skills to manage any emotional or mental side effects.


Although menopause can be frustrating and hugely disruptive, it's important to remember that for most women, it won't last for more than seven years or so. It's also a normal process that almost all people with menstrual cycles go through during their lives.

Focus on finding solutions that help you manage your symptoms effectively and be sure to schedule regular checkups with your doctor to maintain your health as you age.


Menopause is the normal process that a woman's body goes through when their reproductive years are coming to an end.

It is a three-phase process. First, the body goes through perimenopause, during which time the body's hormonal levels change. As a result, women may experience irregular periods, along with other symptoms like hot flashes, low libido and mood swings.

The second phase is known as menopause, which is marked 12 months after a woman's final period.

The final phase, postmenopause, is the time that comes after menopause. During this phase, the hormones even out and stabilize, which usually means the symptoms of menopause no longer occur.