How long does menopause last?

November 12, 2020

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Women’s health and wellbeing is a topic that has a wide variety of questions and concerns. Naturally, every woman will have different concerns throughout her lifetime. One common question that does get asked is: How long does menopause last?

Although there is a general length of time menopause symptoms last, everyone’s journey is one-of-a-kind. The transition usually takes four years, but some symptoms might last longer. It’s important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules surrounding menopause and how long you may experience signs and symptoms. If you are ever concerned about menopause symptoms, it’s important to have a chat with your doctor.

What is menopause?

Menopause is the last menstrual duration. This starts when you have reached near the end of the ovaries’ egg supply. Whilst this is a single occasion, the signs and symptoms related to menopause can start to occur up to a decade before menopause, in ‘perimenopause’. These signs and symptoms can persist many years after menopause in some females.

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause begins when you may start to experience changes to your menstruation (for example, longer or much shorter cycles), as well as symptoms connected to a decrease in the hormone estrogen. One of the most common signs is hot flashes. The average length of perimenopause is four years. Many women go into perimenopause sometime in their 40s. Perimenopause then ends when you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months. This is what we refer to as menopause. However, this is merely an average and also does not anticipate the exact time for any person.

Signs and symptoms of menopause

The common age of menopause is between 45 and 55 years, with the most common age for menopause being around the age of 51 to 52 years. Around one-fifth of ladies have no symptoms around menopause and an additional 20% of women have extreme symptoms. These will often be hot flushes, sweats, sleep disruption, genital dry skin and urinary symptoms.

Many women stop having hot flashes within five years following their last menstruation period. However, up to one-third of women continued to have moderate to extreme hot flashes for ten years or more. These trigger you to feel an abrupt rush of heat in your face and upper body. They can last a few seconds to numerous mins or longer. Hot flashes can occur several times a day or a couple of times a month.

Genital dry skin, burning and irritation can also occur as a result of estrogen shortage. The distinction with these signs and symptoms is that it tends to worsen as you age. 

Other signs may begin throughout perimenopause and linger throughout postmenopause. These include:

  • Rest problems – Hot flashes during sleep can result in night sweats. Night sweats can wake you up and also make you feel tired throughout the day.
  • Cold flashes – You might experience chills, cool feet, and also shivering after your body cools from a hot flash.
  • Mood adjustments like clinical depression and anxiousness – These might include light anxiety, mood swings and irritability.
  • Cognitive changes such as memory loss
  • Muscular tissue and joint discomfort
  • Pain during sex
  • Low sex drive

While some women associate these signs and symptoms with menopause, the timing may be unintentional. In other words, it can be a challenge to know whether these signs and symptoms are just from a lack of estrogen in the body or from the all-natural processes that go along with ageing.

Various other symptoms of perimenopause can include:

  • Inflammation of the breasts
  • Much heavier or lighter periods
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Dry skin, eyes, or mouth

Some other uncommon symptoms include: 

  • Migraines
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Loss of hair or thinning hair 
  • Weight gain

If you experience any of these additional signs, see your doctor to rule out various other causes.

Things that may impact menopause

Like other milestones in a woman’s lifetime, perimenopause and menopause begins and finishes at various times for each individual. Numerous aspects can influence the timing and experience of menopause for you. Genetics, lifestyle, diet, life stressors and wellness are all elements of when and how you may experience menopause-related signs and symptoms.

No matter when your signs and symptoms start and end, you can still have your variation of healthy and balanced menopause. Whether you never feel a hot flash or continue to have them into your late 60s, your own experience can be “regular” for you (but very different to other women).

When to seek more support

Going through perimenopause and menopause can be awkward and in some cases excruciating for many women. If your menopause-related signs and symptoms cause you anxiety or adversely impact your daily routine, discuss them with your doctor. There are a variety of therapies available to assist you to deal with these unpleasant signs and symptoms including both hormonal, non-hormonal drugs and natural treatments.

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