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Conditions InDepth: Menopause

Menopause is when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 1 year. This is a normal part of aging. It is most common in women who are 40 to 58 years of age. When it happens before 40, it is called premature menopause.

It is caused by estrogen and progesterone hormones lowering. These are needed for periods and pregnancy.

Surgery to remove the uterus or ovaries and some cancer treatments can also cause it.

Stages of Menopause

There are 3 stages:

  • Perimenopause —happens 4 to 8 years before the last period and lasts 1 year after the last period
  • Menopause —periods have not happened for 1 year, a woman has had surgery that has started it, or a blood test has confirmed it
  • Post-menopause —the time after the last period when a woman no longer menstruates

American College of Obstetricians and Gynacologists (ACOG). Practice Bulletin No. 141: management of menopausal symptoms. Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Jan;123(1):202-16, reaffirmed 2016, correction can be found in Obstet Gynecol 2016 Jan;127(1):166.

Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. North American Menopause Society website. Available at: Accessed July 22, 2020.

Menopause basics. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: Updated March 18, 2019. Accessed July 23, 2020.

Menopause. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 5, 2019. Accessed July 22, 2020.

Menopause. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: Accessed July 22, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Elliot M. Levine, MD, FACOG