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Wednesday, May 8, 2017
Courtesy of Russell R Van Hemert DC
How Long Does Menopause Last?
Updated April 19, 2017
Menopause is unique for each woman and begins and ends on its own schedule. But once the symptoms start, women want to know, "How long will this go on?" Although there is a usual range for how long menopause symptoms will last, each woman will have her own tale to tell about the journey through menopause.
The Average Duration of Menopause
The basics stats are that the stage of menopause lasts approximated 4 to 6 years. This is the span from when you first notice menstrual changes until you have had 12 months without a period. The average age of onset is 47.5 years and the average end of menopause by this definition is at age 51. That's the good news. The bad news is that some symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, may go on for another 10 or 15 years. And some, such as vaginal dryness, will continue as you age.
Menopause Duration Varies for Each Woman
Like puberty and pregnancy, menopause begins at a different time for each woman and ends when it ends. There are so many factors influencing the timing and experience of menopause that every woman will write her own story. Genetics, lifestyle, diet, stress, general health, and cultural perspective are all elements of when and how dramatically you will experience menopause symptoms. In general, the first signs of menopause can begin anytime from your mid-thirties through your late fifties, with the most common being in the mid to late forties. These initial signs are likely to be a change in menstrual cycles (longer or shorter), mood changes, and/or hot flashes. Some women have all of these signs, and some women have none of these signs. The vast majority of women will experience their menopause in a 2- to 10-year window of time, probably from their mid-forties to their mid-fifties. But even if you begin much earlier, or end later, you may still be having your own version of a healthy menopause. And whether you never feel a single hot flash, or continue to have them into your late sixties, it can be “normal” for you.
How Long Will You Have Hot Flashes Into Postmenopause?
Some symptoms, like vaginal dryness and urinary symptoms, may persist into the postmenopause, but most diminish and disappear within 12 months after your last period. Women have reported having hot flashes even into their sixties or seventies, but it’s more common for women to stop having them after about five years. On average, hot flashes peak at around age 53 and usually end before age 65.
The Bottom Line on Menopause Symptoms
If your symptoms cause you difficulty or anxiety, discuss them with your medical provider. Many signs that may be normal menopausal events can also be signs of other medical conditions. Talk to your doctor about your own risk factors, health history, and symptoms to help you get a complete picture of how you’re doing and what to expect.
Sources:Andrews JC. Vasomotor symptoms: an evidence-based approach to medical management. J Clin Outcomes Manage. 2011 Mar;18(3):112-128
Menopause. WomensHealth.gov. https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-basics/index.html
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