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What is menopause?

Menopause occurs for all women when their menstrual cycles end.

What is menopause?

Menopause literally means the "end of monthly cycles". Menopause is determined to have occurred when a woman hasn't had a period for 12 months.

What happens at menopause?

At menopause, a woman’s oestrogen levels fall, her ovaries stop releasing an egg each month, and her monthly period (menstruation) stops.

Menopause is said to have occurred when menstrual periods have ceased for 12 months.

Can menopause occur before 40?

Premature menopause is when periods cease before the age of 40. In many cases no cause is found for menopause to be early.

Sometimes there may be a history of early menopause in the family.  Certain infections and immune and chromosome disorders can also cause it to happen early. You should discuss with your doctor whether you need to have any investigations.

Smoking has been linked to premature menopause.

Premature menopause may also happen as the consequence of surgical removal of both ovaries. It can also be as a result of some cancer treatments where the ovaries are affected. This causes a sudden drop in hormone levels and menopausal symptoms can often be more severe than with the other types of menopause.

Can I get pregnant at menopause?

A woman can still be fertile up to a year after her last period, or two years if menopause was before age 50. This means women having sex with men could get pregnant.  It is important to discuss with a doctor or nurse what contraceptive method will be best during menopause.

More information 

The Australasian Menopause Society has a website dedicated to menopause with information for consumers and clinicians. 

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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