Natural menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstrual periods and is determined retrospectively after a woman has experienced amenorrhea for 12 months. It is important that any other physiological cause or pathology is excluded as a cause.
The average age of occurrence is 51 to 52 years in normal women, and reflects the complete, or near complete, ovarian follicular depletion (no more eggs), with resulting decline in oestrogen and the associated symptoms.
Peri-menopause or the menopausal transition begins on average 2-4 years before the final menstrual period. During this time also there are a number of physiologic changes that may affect a woman’s quality of life. Some of the symptoms include an irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal fluctuations, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and vaginal atrophy that can present as dryness or dyspareunia (painful intercourse).
A lot of research has been done into menopause and whilst some treatments for menopause are hormonal there are many non-hormonal treatments now available.