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When a woman has not had a menstrual period for a full year and there are no other causes for this, she has officially reached menopause. Symptoms can begin several years before your last period and last for months, or even years, afterward. Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during this time period may lead to symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, and changes in bleeding patterns. In many cases, menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
(For more information, click Menopause. This article tells you what you need to know about things that can trigger menopause prematurely, what you can do about bothersome symptoms, and more.)