Menopause is when you stop having periods as your oestrogen and progesterone levels fall. This is usually a gradual process and is viewed as a natural part of aging. You are usually regarded as menopausal when you have not had a period for twelve months in a row. Definitions of menopause can sometimes vary.
In the time leading up to the menopause, you can experience menopausal symptoms but can still be having periods. This is called perimenopause. During this time, your periods can change and be irregular, and become further apart, or closer together. The flow can also change and can become heavier or lighter.
You can experience menopausal symptoms in the months and years leading up to when your periods stop completely. Menopausal symptoms can continue beyond when your periods have stopped for months and sometimes years. Most women experience some menopausal symptoms but may not realise this is what they are experiencing. Symptoms can vary greatly in their severity and duration, and symptoms can alter and change over time. Most symptoms will settle with time.
If you wish to get further information, please make an appointment with your GP so you can discuss your symptoms further and they will refer you on to a specialist if necessary.