How long does menopause last?

How long does menopause last

Introduction on Menopause

Menopause occurs when a woman is unable to menstruate within 12 consecutive months and is no longer manually pregnant. This normally begins between the age of 45 to 55, but can also develop before or after the particular age group.

Menopause can lead to some uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes and weight gain. For most of the women, medical treatment is not required.

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What is Menopause?

A woman may have changes in her monthly cycle, hot flashes, and other symptoms during the years leading up to that point. This is referred to as a menopausal transition or perimenopause.

Menopause usually occurs naturally as a woman ages, and it can also happen if a woman has removed her ovaries through surgeries.

When does menopause begin and How long does it last?

Most women begin to develop menopausal symptoms for the first time about four years before their last period. Symptoms often persist until about four years after a woman’s last period.

Few women can experience menopausal symptoms for up to 10 years before menopause occurs, and 1 in 10 women experience menopausal symptoms for 12 years after their last period.

The median age for menopause is 51, although it may occur on average for Black and Latino women up to two years earlier. More studies are needed to understand the onset of menopause in women of colour. There are various factors which determine when you start menopause, including genetics and ovarian health. Perimenopause occurs prior to menopause. Perimenopause is a time when your hormones are starting to change in menopause preparation. It will last anywhere from a couple of months to a few years. Many women begin perimenopause sometime after their mid-40s. Other women skip the perimenopause and suddenly enter the menopause.

Approximately 1% of women start menopause before the age of 40, which is called premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency. Approximately 5% of women undergo menopause between the ages of 40 and 45. This is called early menopause.

Causes

Naturally declining reproductive hormones

When a woman reaches the age of 30, her ovaries start making very less estrogen and progesterone, the hormones which regulate menstruation and the fertility declines. In your 40s, your menstrual periods may be longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, and more or less frequent. By the age of 51—your ovaries stop releasing eggs, and you have no more periods.

Removal of ovary

Your ovaries produce hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, which regulate the menstrual cycle. Surgery to remove the ovaries causes immediate menopause. The menstrual period will stop immediately and you would likely experience hot flashes and other menopausal signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms may be severe, as hormonal changes occur abruptly rather than gradually over a period of several years.

When surgery is performed for removing uterus but not ovary usually don’t cause immediate menopause. If a woman is not getting periods still the ovary will release eggs and produce estrogen and progesterone.

Primary Ovarian insufficiency

Approximately 1% of women experience menopause before age 40. Premature menopause may result from the failure of your ovaries to produce normal reproductive hormone levels (primary ovarian insufficiency), which may be caused by genetic factors or autoimmune diseases. However, no cause of premature menopause can be found.

Complications

Menopause can show some of the common complications, which includes:

  • Vulvovaginal atrophy
  • Dyspareunia
  • Slower in metabolic function
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sudden change in mood
  • Cataracts
  • Periodontal disease
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Heart or blood vessel disease

Symptoms of Menopause

Irregular Vaginal Bleeding

Irregular vaginal bleeding occurs when a woman reaches the menopause stage. Some women can show minima; problems with abnormal bleeding during the prior time to menopause, whereas can show unpredictable and excessive bleeding. A woman may have an irregular period of time for years prior to menopause. It is important to remember that all women who develop irregular menses should be assessed by their doctor to confirm that irregular menses are due to perimenopause and not as a sign of another medical condition.

Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are common among menopausal women. A hot flash is a feeling of warmth that spreads across the body and is often most pronounced in the head and chest. Hot flash is sometimes associated with flushing, sometimes followed by sweating. Hot flashes usually last from 30 seconds to a few minutes.

Night Sweats

Night sweats sometimes accompany hot flashes. This can lead to reawakening and difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep and tiredness during the day.

Vaginal Symptoms

Vaginal symptoms occur as the tissues lining the vagina become thinner, drier, and less elastic as the levels of estrogen fall. Symptoms may include vaginal dryness, itching, or irritation and/or sexual intercourse pain (dyspareunia).

Urinary Symptoms

The urethra liner (It’s a transport tube that leads from the bladder to discharge urine outside the body) also undergoes changes similar to the tissues of the vagina, becoming drier, thinner and less elastic with declining estrogen levels. This can lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infection, more frequent urination, or leakage of urine.

Emotional and Cognitive Symptoms

Emotional and cognitive symptoms are so common that it is sometimes difficult for a woman to know if they are due to menopause. Night sweats that may occur during perimenopause may also contribute to feelings of tiredness and fatigue, which may have an effect on mood and cognitive performance.

Other Physical Changes

Many women report some weight gain along with menopause. The distribution of body fat may change, with body fat deposited more in the waist and abdominal area than in the hips and thighs. Changes in the texture of the skin, including wrinkles, may develop along with worsening of adult acne in those affected by this condition.

Why does Menopause occur?

Menopause is a natural process which occurs due to ovaries age and produces less reproductive hormones. The body goes through various changes in response to lower levels of:

  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone
  • Luteinizing hormone

How is menopause diagnosed?

It’s worth talking to your health care provider if you have troublesome or disabling menopausal symptoms or if you have menopausal symptoms that are 45 years of age or younger.

Your doctor may also order a blood test to measure the level of certain hormones in your blood, usually FSH, and a form of estrogen called estradiol.

During perimenopause, FSH and estrogen levels fluctuate daily, so most health providers will diagnose this condition based on symptoms, medical history, and menstrual information.

Depending on your symptoms and your health history, your health care provider may also order additional blood tests to help rule out other underlying conditions that may be responsible for your symptoms.

Some other additional blood tests are also used for knowing the cause of menopause:

  • Thyroid function tests
  • Blood lipid profile
  • Liver function tests
  • Kidney function tests
  • Testosterone and progesterone

Treatment

A woman may need treatment if the symptoms are severe or are affecting your quality of life. Hormone therapy can be an effective treatment in women under the age of 60, or within 10 years of menopause onset for the reduction or management of:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Flushing
  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Osteoporosis

Home Remedies and Lifestyle changes

Here are some tips for managing menopause symptoms:

Keeping cool and staying comfortable

Dress in loose, layered clothing, especially during the night and during warm or unpredictable weather. This can help you manage your hot flashes.

Keeping your bedroom cool and avoiding heavy blankets at night can also help reduce your chances of sweating at night. If you have night sweats on a regular basis, consider using a waterproof sheet under your bedding to protect your mattress.

Communicating your needs

Talk to a therapist or psychologist about any feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, isolation, insomnia, or changes in identity.

You should also try talking to family members, loved ones, or friends about feelings of anxiety, mood changes, or depression so that they know your needs.

Supplementing diet

Take calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium supplements to help reduce your risk of osteoporosis and improve energy and sleep. Talk to your doctor about supplements that can help you meet your individual health needs.

Practice relaxation techniques

Practice some of the relaxation and breathing techniques, like:

  • Yoga
  • Box breathing
  • Meditation

For many people, menopause is not the only transition that occurs in the middle ages. Changes in relationships and work or home life such as children moving away from home may also have a significant impact. When more than one of these changes occurs in a short period of time, it may feel overwhelming.

However, many people have been living active, healthy lives throughout menopause, and for many decades thereafter, and midlife.

FAQs

Menopause is a normal part of ageing and is a point in time 12 months after the last period of a woman. A woman may have changes in her monthly cycle, hot flashes, and other symptoms during the years leading up to that point. This is referred to as a menopausal transition or perimenopause.

Some of the common symptoms of menopause are Irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems and mood changes. This normally begins between the ages of 45 to 55, but can also develop before or after the particular age group.

A woman may have changes in her monthly cycle, hot flashes, and other symptoms during the years leading up to that point.

Menopause can last up to four to five years but they will decrease in frequency and intensity. Some women can face these symptoms last longer.

The best diets for menopause are fruits, vegetables, whole grain, high-quality protein and dairy products.

There’s no way to tell you how long this stage will last. It can be anywhere from two to eight years, with an average of four years. It usually begins when the women are in the late 40s.

Hormonal changes in menopause may make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But hormonal changes alone do not necessarily lead to a weight gain in menopause.

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