Whether you’ve just experienced your first hot flash
or have been trying to cope with symptoms for months, you’re probably wondering
“how long does menopause last?” After all, not knowing what to expect makes
every symptom that much more difficult. And it’s upsetting and confusing because
symptoms can come and go and appear unpredictably. Often, your symptoms can be completely
different from other women that you know.
Knowing what to expect when it comes to menopause — and that it will end
— makes the transition easier. Our answers to the most common questions we receive
from women are based on years of experience helping women have a better menopause
How long does menopause last?
Perimenopause and menopause symptoms can last anywhere from a few months to more
than 10 years. Menopause officially begins — and ends — when you haven’t had your
period for 12 consecutive months. We say “officially” because there’s a lot more
involved in the transition than just that specific time without a menstrual cycle.
By “more” we mean troubling symptoms. Leading up to menopause, many women experience
hot flashes, low libido and irritability for months or even years. This time is
known as perimenopause, although many times the symptoms may be referred by other
women and even medical professionals as “going through menopause.”
For many women, it’s hard to pin down exactly when menopause starts and even more
difficult to know exactly when it will be finished — which can make it seem so much
When do menopause and perimenopause start?
The average age for women to experience menopause is 52, but some women may begin
“early menopause” between the ages of 40-45. If you’re experiencing symptoms but
still menstruating, you’re in perimenopause. Perimenopause symptoms can start months
or years before menopause, often when a woman is in her 40s.During this time, your
periods may become irregular and you may even skip several months. Irregular periods
are a key symptom of perimenopause as hormonal changes may cause you to ovulate
on a less regular basis. But keep in mind, until you haven’t menstruated for 12
full months, you haven’t started menopause yet.
Can I put off menopause?
Natural menopause is a normal transition process that you can’t delay or stop. Even
around the age of 35, as your hormones start to transition you may not notice symptoms.
By your early to mid-40s, fluctuations of your sex hormones estrogen and progesterone
may increase. This is when most women begin to notice symptoms. These symptoms may
continue to increase in severity through their late 40s and early 50s until they
quit menstruating. No matter what age menopause begins, I always suggest that women
focus on techniques that reduce their symptoms so they can feel their best during
this important stage in their life.
How can I predict when I’ll go through menopause?
We all have a unique hormonal imbalance, so calculating when exactly a woman will
go through menopause is tricky. The best predictor is your family history. Many
women stop menstruating and experience menopause around a similar age as their mothers.
In cases of early menopause, women are 60% more likely to start menopause sooner
if they have a family history of early menopause.
It’s a myth that the older you are when you first menstruate, the older you’ll be
when you go through menopause. Sometimes, it’s just the opposite. If you got your
period later than average, you may begin menopause earlier.
Other factors that may influence the start of menopause are more or less within
your control, depending on your circumstances. These include poor nutrition that
can lead to hormonal imbalance; exposure to environmental toxins that are absorbed
into the body and disrupt hormonal activity; smoking; and chronic, long-term stress.
What happens if I have a hysterectomy?
Women may experience menopause for reasons other than as a natural transition. With
surgical menopause, via a total hysterectomy, you will experience an immediate and
significant change in your hormonal balance. Women who’ve had partial hysterectomy,
when only the uterus is removed, are still likely to go through normal perimenopause
and menopause. However, because their periods stop, it may be more difficult to
know when these transitions are starting. Surgical removal of the ovaries or significant
disruption of the blood supply to the ovaries from surgery, radiation, chemotherapy,
or certain medications will most likely result in menopause.
Will I go through menopause if I’m on birth control pills?
Women taking birth control pills will go through perimenopause and menopause. But
because of the hormonal effects of the pill, you may not realize that it has started.
For example, with the pill, you may still get periods on a regular basis, although
your body is not releasing a fertilized egg. If you stop taking the pill after you’ve
gone through menopause, you will not start ovulating again.
What are the first signs of menopause?
We always say that checking in with how and what you’re feeling is the best way
to confirm you’re in menopause. If you feel that something is “off” or that you
are experiencing more and more symptoms around the age when perimenopause or menopause
most often begins – you have probably started your transition.
While there is no set “first sign” of perimenopause or menopause,
there are 16 very common symptoms:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Sleep issues
- Weight gain
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Forgetfulness or fuzzy thinking
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Joint comfort/stiffness
- Food cravings
- Digestive discomfort
- Anxiety and/or sadness
- Irritability and/or moodiness
- PMS-like symptoms
- Feeling overwhelmed
It’s important to realize that perimenopause and menopause don’t cause only physical
symptoms. You may experience a range unsettling changes in emotions, memory and
concentration, as well those in the list above. For some women, these are the worst
symptoms of all.
With such a wide range of symptoms, it’s no wonder many women don’t connect them
to perimenopausal hormonal imbalance. If you would like to read more about symptoms,
see our article
Signs and symptoms of menopause.
Why are my menopause symptoms getting worse?
Symptoms of perimenopause leading up to menopause may increase in frequency and
intensity as hormonal shifts become more severe. Around the age of 35, estrogen
and progesterone production enters a phase of gradual decline. You may notice any
symptoms from these gradual shifts.
In your 40s, the ratios between estrogen and progesterone will be in flux. Ovulation
may not happen with every period or your periods may become irregular. These shifts
in your hormones can cause more noticeable symptoms.
How will I know when menopause is over?
Once you haven’t had your period for 12 consecutive months, you have completed the
transition into menopause. The time after menopause is known as post-menopause.
What happens after menopause?
During post-menopause — the time after menopause — your body is still producing
hormones. As reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone decline once your
childbearing years end. But that doesn’t mean they’re not needed at all, so your
body still makes them, just in lower amounts.
In the years of post-menopause, you may still experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance
or maybe even have certain symptoms for the first time. For example, it’s not unusual
to have continuing hot flashes as a result of estrogen deficiency. Some women in
post-menopause experience vaginal dryness, which causes affects a woman’s interest
in sex and can make sexual activity uncomfortable or even painful. The most common
post-menopausal symptoms are:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness and other changes
- Hair thinning and loss
- Urinary incontinence
- Bone loss and fracture
- Memory loss
If you experience postmenopausal bleeding — no matter how slight or brief —
talk with your OB/GYN healthcare provider as soon as possible
to rule out any serious issues.
How can I reduce my perimenopause or menopause symptoms?
For women who have difficult perimenopause or menopause symptoms, phytotherapy —
or herbal solutions — is a highly-effective, natural option. Certain herbs known
as phytocrines share functional features with our hormones, allowing them to provide
powerful symptom relief. Phytocrines also support your body’s ability to make and
use its own hormones. These actions help alleviate your worst symptoms, but without
While certain herbs address specific symptoms, I always suggest using a multi-sourced
botanical formula, as science suggests that a combination of herbs can restore hormonal
balance under a variety of circumstances.
We understand that perimenopause and menopause can be scary times in a woman’s life.
Symptoms can leave you exhausted, miserable and discouraged. But in working with
many women over the years, we’ve found that when we have the information we need
to be more resourceful we can overcome difficult situations.
And many women tell us that because they were prepared and knew what to expect,
they can look back at perimenopause and menopause and think “that wasn’t nearly
as bad as I thought it was going to be!” It can be that way for you too. Please
don’t hesitate to give our Customer Support Team a call at 1-800-448-4919 to find
out which herbal solution might work best for you.