Menopause is the time in a woman's life that signals the end of her childbearing years. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing eggs, menstrual activity changes and eventually stops, and the body's production of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, decreases.


While menopause actually occurs at the end of a woman's last period, it is only confirmed when she hasn't had a period for 12 months. Women usually experience menopause between ages 40 and 55 - sometimes earlier, sometimes later.

Premature menopause occurs before age 40 and is usually the result of a genetic predisposition or autoimmune disorders.

Induced menopause results from a medical intervention such as the surgical removal of ovaries or a hysterectomy (uterus removed but not the ovaries).


Symptoms vary from woman to woman. They may be mild, moderate, or severe.

  • hot flashes (sudden warm feeling, with blushing)
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • night sweats
  • irregular menstrual patterns
  • dizzy or tingling sensations (pins and needles)
  • loss of bladder control
  • inflammation of the bladder or vagina
  • pain during intercourse due to vaginal dryness
  • joint, muscle aches
  • changes in sex drive


A doctor usually diagnoses menopause after reviewing a woman's medical history and conducting a physical examination. For instance, a pap smear may reveal changes in the vaginal lining due to decreased estrogen. Blood and urine tests can be used to measure estrogen and progesterone levels.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team