Menopause is time in a woman's life when her periods (menstruation) eventually stop and the body goes through changes that no longer allow her to get pregnant.  It is a normal part of aging.  In the years before and during menopause, the levels of female hormones can fluctuate greatly.  This can cause symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.  Some women take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), also called menopausal hormone therapy, to relieve these symptoms.  HRT may also protect against osteoporosis.  However, HRT also has risks.  It can increase your risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke.  Certain types of HRT have a higher risk, and each woman's own risks can vary depending upon her health history and lifestyle.  You and your health care provider need to discuss the risks and benefits for you.  

Page Updated November 29, 2012.