Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period.
Menstruation (monthly periods) can sometimes stop suddenly when you reach the menopause. However, it's more likely that your periods will become less frequent, with longer intervals between each one, before they stop altogether.
Menopause is a natural biological process not a medical illness. The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body's sex hormones. In the lead-up to the menopause (perimenopause), oestrogen levels decrease, causing the ovaries to stop producing an egg each month (ovulation). Oestrogen is the female sex hormone that regulates a woman's periods.
The reduction in oestrogen causes physical and emotional symptoms, including: hot flushes; night sweats; mood swings; and vaginal dryness.
The physical and emotional symptoms of menopause can disrupt your sleep, sap your energy and trigger feelings of sadness and loss.
Some men develop depression, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction and other physical and emotional symptoms when they reach their late 40s to early 50s.
Other symptoms common in men this age are:
loss of muscle mass
fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly or "man boobs" (gynaecomastia)
tiredness and a general lack of enthusiasm or energy
poor concentration and short-term memory
These symptoms can interfere with everyday life and happiness, so it's important to find the underlying cause and work out what can be done to resolve it.
If you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you, see your doctor.