I am 48 years old and my periods are now erratic (they used to be regular) and the blood is brown (not red). Does this mean that I am no longer fertile and can come off the mini-pill?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Erratic periods as women are approaching the menopause are normal. But the fact that you are still bleeding, even irregularly, means that you are not yet fully menopausal. The mini-pill that you are taking (also know as the progesterone-only pill or POP) will still be effective in preventing pregnancy. The rule is that you should continue using contraception until you have not had a period or any bleeding for two years (this can be reduced to one year once you are over 50). Although this may seem like a long time, it is the only way of making sure you do not get pregnant. It is not unknown for the ovaries to release a rogue egg months after periods have apparently stopped.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.