Menopause is the milestone in every woman's life that marks the end of her reproductive years. It is the point in time when a woman has had no menstrual periods for 1 year, which happens when the ovaries have stopped producing enough estrogen and progesterone to keep the menstrual cycle going.

Menopause marks the end of the perimenopausal phase and the beginning of the postmenopausal phase. While the average age of menopause is around 50, every woman's body has its own unique timeline. Some women stop having periods (menstruating) in their mid-40s, while others continue until their mid-50s.

After menopause, a woman's estrogen stabilizes at a low level. Although low estrogen helps reduce the risk of some types of cancer, it does lead to an increasing loss in bone density, which sometimes causes osteoporosis.

Last Updated: May 16, 2008

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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