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How long does menopause last?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when her periods (menstruation) eventually stop and the body goes through changes that no longer allow for pregnant. It is a natural event that normally occurs in women age 45 - 55. And for some women can be incredibly upsetting and emotionally traumatic. Not to mention the sometimes extreme side effects of menopause that can last years.

The first thing most women notice is that periods start to change. They become irregular and might occur more or less often. Irregular periods can last for 1 - 3 years before the periods completely stop.

Marina Johnson
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Women may have acute symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats or insomnia while other women may breeze through without any of these symptoms. It may occur abruptly as in a woman who’s had her ovaries surgically removed. In women who go through natural menopause, it can also occur abruptly but more commonly it occurs gradually over several months to years. Menopause is defined as the absence of a menstrual period for a year. If this occurs in young women, it’s important to check for reversible causes. Many women think that once hot flashes are gone, that they’re done with menopause. After the acute symptoms have resolved, with estrogen, many organ systems develop degeneration. Sexual dysfunction like vaginal dryness and painful sex commonly occur within six months of no estrogen. With longer duration of estrogen deficiency, serious diseases like heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis can develop. Women get the best protection from these diseases, if they start estrogen within 10 years of menopause.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.