Once the ovaries stop producing their eggs is basically when the first signs of menopause will happen in a woman. This generally begins happening to a women in their early 50's. This is when the estrogen levels in their bodies begin to decrease and their menstrual cycles will start changing and will eventually stop altogether.
Probably the biggest thing reported by most women would be the hot flashes that make a woman feel extremely hot across the upper part of their body. They may also become flushed and even break out into a sweat especially when they are trying to sleep. They generally don't last very long but they can disrupt a woman's sleep patterns. How long a woman experiences these hot flashes can be anywhere from a few months to several years. It all depends upon the woman.
Even though everyone suffers some sort of bone loss when they age since it's a natural process of getting old, it seems that menopause will increase the rate of bone loss in women. The bones most often affected are the wrists, spine and hips of women. This is why a lot of women are asked to take extra calcium.
Once menopause is at it's peak the levels of of estrogen get lower and this can increase the possibility of a heart attack or a stroke. The skin loses more elasticity and more wrinkles seem to accumulate than prior to menopause. The distribution of a woman's fat will change also. Luckily for women, the fat in their bodies actually continues to produce estrogen even after the ovaries have totally stopped doing so. So women who are overweight generally aren't affected as bad as women who are very thin.
The hair will begin to change as well, a lot of women will notice that the texture of their hair will begin to change as well as thinness might be noticeable.
Not only are there physical changes but with some women there are also some big emotional problems. Some women take menopause quite well and are sincerely glad that they have gone through it because they don't have to worry about their monthly visitor, getting pregnant, etc. Whereas there are those that have extremely negative emotions such as being extremely nervous, very irritable, crying for no reason, extremely tired and depression can set in with some women.
On top of menopause as women age they also have to contend with the fact that their thyroid will change and can also have a direct affect on their moods, the growth of their hair and a lot of other body function and should have their thyroid checked every five years or so.
Some but not most women find that estrogen replacement treatment helps them immensely but if you are not a person suffering from severe symptoms of menopause there really is no need for you to go on this radical of a treatment.