For women, the menopause typically starts between the ages of 45 and 55.

It can be extremely debilitating and can cause anything from hot flushes to depression to decreased sex drive – in fact one quarter of women over 40 say their sex life is non-existent thanks to menopause.

The symptoms can last between two and five years, which means it’s really important to seek out treatment if you’re finding the experience unbearable. To help you on your way, we spoke to Dr Helen Webberley from Oxford Online Pharmacy about what treatments are available. She also gave her verdict on whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is safe.

The end of a woman’s reproductive life is marked by a reduction in the function of the ovaries. When this finally stops, the menopause begins.

“Generally speaking, for a woman over the age of fifty, the menopause can be said to have taken place one year after the last period, or two years after the last period in the under fifties,” explains Dr Webberley.

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