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Menopause: Overview

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Menopause refers to the time in a woman’s life when she stops having a menstrual period and is no longer fertile. The time leading up to menopause is called the menopausal transition, or perimenopause.

During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries start to produce less of the hormones estrogen (pronounced ES-truh-juhn) and progesterone (pronounced proh-JES-tuh-rohn). As a woman goes through the transition to menopause, her ovaries are also less likely to release eggs.

Typically, menopause occurs between ages 45 and 55.

The NICHD is one of many federal agencies and NIH Institutes working to better understand menopause. The NICHD also supports and conducts research on conditions related to menopause, such as osteoporosis (pronounced os-tee-oh-puh-ROH-sis) and menopausal hormone therapy. 

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Common Names

  • Menopause
  • Menopausal transition
  • Perimenopause
  • Postmenopause
  • "The change"
  • "The change of life"

Medical or Scientific Names

  • Menopause
  • Menopause transition
  • Perimenopause
  • Postmenopause
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