The following topics concerning the menopause basics may be found in the AMS Information Sheets.
What is Menopause?
The menopause is sometimes called 'the change of life' as it marks the end of a woman's reproductive life. At menopause, eggs are no longer produced by the ovary and production of oestrogen and progesterone ceases. The word "menopause" refers to the last or final menstrual period a woman experiences.
When a woman has had no periods for 12 consecutive months she is considered to be “postmenopausal”. Most women become menopausal naturally between the ages of 45 and 55 years, with the average age of onset at around 50 years. “Premature menopause” may occur before the age of 40 due to either natural ovarian function ceasing, following surgery to remove the ovaries, or as a result of cancer treatments. Menopause is considered “early” when it occurs between 40 and 45 years. (For more, see the information sheets “Spontaneous Premature Ovarian Insufficiency” and “Early menopause due to chemotherapy”).
Frequently, the diagnosis of menopause has already been made by the woman herself. She attends her GP with symptoms such as hot flushes or night sweats interrupting her sleep, together with changes in her menstrual cycle. Not all women with menopausal symptoms will need treatment. Most women will be glad of information about menopause and about the safe and effective treatment options available. The questions we should be asking her are "Why did you come to see me", and "What do you hope to get out of this consultation?"
Menopause and Body Changes
Women may find their body changes during menopause. Unpleasant symptoms such as dry skin, the sensation of crawling under the skin, dry vagina, pain during intercourse, joint and muscle aches, and frequent urination are common. Some of these symptoms can be due to lower levels of the hormone oestrogen, which is the main hormonal change at menopause. While the use of oestrogen replacement therapy may be useful for some women with some of the changes detailed below, it should not be regarded as an antiageing therapy.
Glossary of Terms
A description of words and terms used in menopause and women's health.
Note: Medical and scientific information provided and endorsed by the Australasian Menopause Society might not be relevant to a particular person's circumstances and should always be discussed with that person's own healthcare provider.
These Information Sheets may contain copyright or otherwise protected material. Reproduction of this Information Sheet by Australasian Menopause Society Members and other health professionals for clinical practice is permissible. Any other use of this information (hardcopy and electronic versions) must be agreed to and approved by the Australasian Menopause Society.
Content updated September 2018