The menopause is a natural stage of life for women, usually in their late forties/early fifties. It can also happen earlier or later. For many women symptoms last about four years, but in some cases can last longer - up to 12 years.
Part of the process includes what is termed the 'perimenopause' when a woman's body is starting to change in the build-up to the menopause. The perimenopause usually starts in the mid-forties, but can start earlier or later and last several years. The perimenopause is not the same as an early menopause. See The early menopause section further into this guidance.
Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms already affect a substantial number of people in work. That number is expected to grow considerably, with more older workers forecast to stay in or go back to work.
It's important to keep in mind that certain surgery, rather than natural ageing, can trigger the menopause in a woman. Also, a trans man - someone who proposes to go through, is going through or has gone through a process, or part of a process, to change their gender from woman to man - may go through perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.