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Menopause is the time of life when you have your last period. This happens when ovaries stop releasing eggs. For some, it happens all at once. But for many, it is a gradual process.

If you have your ovaries removed through surgery, you may go into “induced menopause,” and experience sudden menopause symptoms without gradual change. Medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can also trigger early menopause.

If you have not had a period in more than a year, are not pregnant, or do not have another illness, you have most likely reached menopause. Typically, a person reaches menopause in their 50s.

The period of gradual change before menopause is called perimenopause

Some may experience menopause symptoms for many years — before and after.

There are treatments for some menopause symptoms.

When an individual reaches middle age, usually in their 40s or 50s, periods begin to change. When they stop completely, it is called menopause. The period of gradual change before menopause is called perimenopause. During perimenopause and menopause, you may experience many hormonal changes, and may have some mild to serious menopause symptoms.

Whether you are approaching menopause, are dealing with menopause symptoms, or are a concerned partner, friend, or family member, you may have many questions. Here are the answers to some questions people commonly ask about menopause and perimenopause.


As you approach menopause, your menstrual periods start to change. The time between periods can be shorter or longer, and this may vary from month to month.

As your periods change, you may experience other symptoms, too. Some may worry about their menopause symptoms if they don’t know what they are.

Common menopause symptoms include

  • changes in sexual desire
  • extreme sweating
  • frequent urinary tract infections
  • frequent urination
  • hot flashes — sudden or gradual waves of body heat that last from 30 seconds to five minutes
  • irritability
  • irritation with urination
  • night sweats
  • sleep problems
  • vaginal dryness/painful intercourse

You may have one, some, or none of these menopause symptoms.

About 1 out of 10 individuals have serious menopause symptoms that make it difficult to do daily activities.

About 1 out of 10 have few, if any, menopause symptoms.

For most, common menopause symptoms such as mood changes and hot flashes are temporary and last only 3–5 years. But some may have a long and difficult perimenopause, up to 10–12 years.

A few common menopause symptoms — vaginal dryness and changes in sex drive — may continue or even get worse after menopause. There are treatments available for these symptoms.

Where can I get more information about Menopause?

Many Planned Parenthood health centers offer midlife services. Staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center may be able to give you these services or put you in contact with the resources you need. – See more at:

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