Menopause (change of life) is when a woman no longer has menstrual periods. The average time this occurs is approximately age 50. The peri-menopausal phase is the period of time before menopause that usually begins in the early to mid forties. During this phase, the amount of estrogen hormone produced by the ovaries begins to decrease. This may cause such symptoms as irregular bleeding, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness or itching and others. Although the menstrual periods may become irregular, pregnancy is still possible and a reliable method of birth control should be used to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Ask your health care provider for further information on menopause or birth control.