This study examines the symptoms after a natural menopause recalled by women aged 50-89 years. We determined the frequency and clustering of symptoms, the effect of age on symptoms, and the relation of symptoms to the use of estrogen therapy in a cross-sectional, community-based study of 589 Caucasian, middle- to upper-middle-class women from Rancho Bernardo, California. At the time of menopause, 55% of the women reported that they felt life was getting better and 57% were more cheerful. The most frequently recalled symptoms were hot flushes (74%), propensity to weight gain (45%), night sweats (35%), tiredness (32%), and insomnia (28%). Irritability was reported by one-fourth, depression by one-fifth. Nearly 11% reported anxiety about looking older. The recalled prevalence of hot flushes, irritability, weepiness and tiredness did not vary by current age, but younger women were significantly more likely than older women to have experienced night sweats, visible flushes, depression, anxiety about looking older and insomnia. Principal components factor analysis yielded four main independent factors: psychological symptoms (21% of the variance), vasomotor symptoms (14%), positive feelings (11%), and negative self-image (8%). The four symptom groupings suggest different causal mechanisms. Forty-two percent reported past, and 27% reported current use of estrogen therapy. Both past and current hormone users were significantly more likely to report menopause symptoms than non-users. Estrogen use was not associated with positive feelings or self-image at the time of menopause. Although three-quarters experienced symptoms, the majority of women reported positive feelings about menopause.