Understanding the menopause - the basics
What is the menopause?
Menopause simply means the end of menstruation. As a woman ages, there is a gradual decline in the function of her ovaries and the production of oestrogen. Around the time a woman turns 40, this process speeds up. This period of transition to the menopause is known as the perimenopause.
Women typically menstruate for the last time at about 52 years of age. A few stop menstruating as young as 40, and a very small percentage as late as 60. Women who smoke tend to go through the menopause a few years earlier than non-smokers. Most women notice some menstrual changes - such as a shortening of cycle length (periods occurring closer together), skipped menstrual periods, and occasional heavy periods - up to a few years before menstruation ceases.