What happens during menopause?

This is the stage of a woman's life when the ovaries stop producing eggs regularly. Production of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone declines, and menstruation decreases and eventually stops.

The term “menopause” means cessation of menstruation. It is also sometimes called "change of life".

Menopause is the beginning of a distinct life phase, with its own particular health issues.

Symptoms of menopause
Menopause-related changes, or symptoms, usually begin approximately six years before natural menopause. Fluctuations in the levels of hormones produced by the ageing ovaries lead to physiological short-term changes.

As the ovaries become less functional they produce less oestrogen, a state to which the body subsequently reacts. Because oestrogen affects large portions of the body, hormonal changes are felt in a number of ways. For some women the associated discomforts are minimal, while others must deal with severe symptoms and risk factors for disease.

A gradual decrease in oestrogen allows the body to slowly adjust, and symptoms may come on slowly and be subtle. In some women, however, a sudden decrease occurs, causing severe symptoms. This often happens with surgical menopause.

Some women experience few or no symptoms; others experience various symptoms ranging from mild to fairly severe. About 75 to 95% of women experience some symptoms; up to 50% and more report that symptoms interfere with daily life. They may last from a few months to several years. Larger women may have fewer symptoms because fat cells manufacture a form of oestrogen. If symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Hot flushes (hot flashes)
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary tract problems
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms
  • Mood Changes
  • Fluctuations in sexual desire or response
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fatigue and/or Insomnia
  • Decreasing fertility
  • Body and skin changes

Visit Health24's Menopause Centre

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.79
-1.0%
Rand - Pound
20.26
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.08
+0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.59
+0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.0%
Gold
1,775.15
0.0%
Silver
19.89
0.0%
Palladium
2,130.50
0.0%
Platinum
937.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
94.92
+0.8%
Top 40
63,114
+1.3%
All Share
69,519
+1.2%
Resource 10
64,042
+2.5%
Industrial 25
84,928
+0.3%
Financial 15
15,675
+1.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE