While all women are unique, most go through the same life stages, even at slightly different times. One stage that women go through is menopause. In most women, menopause occurs naturally as they age, but for others, it can be caused prematurely by other medical conditions. This timeline varies for everyone.
But the big question is, how long does menopause last? To answer that question, you need first to understand what menopause is and when it starts. Our team at Chapel Hill Gynecology is happy to help you find these answers.
When Does Menopause Start?
Menopause starts at a different timeline for different women. But before menopause starts, most women will go through perimenopause. Perimenopause is sometimes confused with menopause. However, this transitional period occurs before menstruation stops completely. Most women experience perimenopause in their 40s, while some may see symptoms in their 30s.
Because levels of the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle decrease in your late 30s, periods after this point may become irregular depending on your timeline. Menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness may start, but the main symptom of perimenopause is irregular periods. The average length of perimenopause is around four years, but your timeline may differ.
Eventually, the hormone levels will be low enough that menstruation stops altogether, which is when menopause begins.
How Long Does Menopause Last?
Again, there is no one-size-fits-all number for the length of time menopause lasts. The intensity and duration of symptoms can vary significantly between individuals. For most women, symptoms will last an average of 5 years, but some women may experience them longer. As time passes, many women report that their symptoms are less intense, and episodes of hot flashes and night sweats are less frequent.
Dealing with Symptoms During Menopause
When many women ask, “How long does menopause last?” they really want to know how long they will deal with unpleasant symptoms. But, symptoms can be managed so that your quality of life is not affected too much by menopause. Common symptoms women may need to address during menopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Emotional changes
- Trouble sleeping
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased libido
- Hair loss
- Unwanted body hair growth
- Weight gain or change in weight distribution
Menopause symptoms can be treated or managed in several ways, including medication and lifestyle changes.
Hormone replacement therapy is an option for some women to help deal with the abovementioned symptoms. Make sure you talk to a doctor knowledgeable in menopause management and hormone replacement to see if the treatment is right for you. Hormone replacement can cause certain complications and should be monitored and adjusted as needed. This timeline can also look different for everyone.
Topical hormonal treatments can be suitable for treating vaginal changes. Lubricants with low doses of estrogen can help with dryness and painful intercourse. These are available in the form of creams, rings, and tablets.
Non-hormonal medications to help symptoms may include:
- Antidepressants for mood changes. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are not only effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression, but they can help with hot flashes as well.
- Sleep medications for insomnia.
- Medications that protect against osteoporosis
- Topical treatments for both hair loss and unwanted body hair growth
- Non-hormonal vaginal lubricants and moisturizers
Adjustments to daily life can also help you manage the symptoms of menopause\’s timeline:
- Eating right and exercising can help with weight management and improve your mood.
- Wearing lightweight clothing and using breathable bedding can help you cope with hot flashes. Limit drinking and stop smoking, as it has been shown that these activities can worsen symptoms.
- Ask your doctor about supplements that might help and any alternative remedies you are considering.
Make an Appointment
Any significant life change, such as menopause, comes with questions, especially about the timeline. The key is finding a trustworthy doctor to give you the answers. Are you looking for a great doctor to help guide this path? Chapel Hill Gynecology specializes in menopause management, hormone therapy, and your specific timeline. So if you have questions or concerns about menopause and how to treat symptoms, Dr. Karen Clark and the staff are here to help. To make an appointment, call us at 919-960-2720. You can also request an appointment online.