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How long does menopause last?

Reviewed by Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD

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.

Woman wondering how long menopause will last

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 experience.

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 to 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 longer.

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. Other common questions are what is perimenopause and how is it different? 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 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 profile, 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 menopause 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 birth control pills in perimenopause and menopause, 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 of 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 not 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.

older woman with healthy groceries

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 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?

Effective natural options include phytotherapy, vitamins and minerals, and simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments that can provide relief by resolving the single root cause of all your symptoms. 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 side effects.

Herbal Equilibrium Herbal Equilibrium

Herbal Equilibrium

For menopause, perimenopause & overall hormonal balance

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.

Last Updated: March 25, 2024
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