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How Long Will Menopause Last?

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Updated April 04, 2014

Question: How Long Will Menopause Last?
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.
Answer:

When they have the first signs of perimenopause, women wonder how long the menopause transition will take. And 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 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.

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.

What's Usual?

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.

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 doc 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.

If you are curious about your own health symptoms, go to the About.com Symptom Checker.

Sources:

North American Menopause Society, (NAMS), Menopause Guidebook: Helping Women Make Informed Healthcare Decisions Around Menopause and Beyond, 6th Edition , North American Menopause Society, 2006. Retrieved 16 Mar, 2008.

Nelson HD, Haney E, Humphrey L, Miller J, Nedrow A, Nicolaidis C, Vesco K, Walker M, Bougatsos C, Nygren P, Management of Menopause-Related Symptoms Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 120. AHRQ Publication No. 05-E016-1, March 2005. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Retrieved 16 Mar, 2008.

Woods NF ; Mitchell ES, “Symptoms during the perimenopause: prevalence, severity, trajectory, and significance in women's lives” Am J Med. 2005; 118 Suppl 12B:14-24 (ISSN: 1555-7162). Abstract Retrieved 16 Mar, 2008.

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