The menopause

• The menopause literally means the last menstrual period.   The climacteric, which is commonly known as the   menopause, is the time period in which symptoms occur,
   and oestrogen production falls and ultimately ceases.

• The menopause usually occurs between 48 and 52 years
   of age (the average in the UK is 51 years).

• Symptoms include hot flushes, sweats, psychological   disturbances such as memory loss, concentration failure,   depression and loss of libido, vaginal dryness, loss of bone   density (osteoporosis), loss of breast tissue, skin thinning,   discomfort during sexual intercourse, and urinary frequency   and urgency. Irregular menstrual disturbances or sudden
  loss of menstruation may also occur.

• The symptoms can be treated with hormone replacement   therapy (HRT). This may be either a combination of
  oestrogen and progesterone, or oestrogen alone if the
  patient has had a hysterectomy. HRT may be given as
  tablets, patches, implants or local vaginal preparations.

• With most HRT drugs, menstruation will continue until the   woman stops taking the drug, but there are drugs that
  provide hormone replacement without causing bleeding.