As a woman, you know that menopause will one day be — or currently is — a reality. While you may be excited to kiss all of those pesky period symptoms goodbye, you may not be thrilled to welcome in the whole new set of signs that define this new womanly change.
Fortunately, your menopause won’t last forever. However, that doesn’t stop you from wondering, “Just how long does menopause last?”
Whether you’re just now entering your 40s or 50s and want to prepare for this anticipatory part of aging or find yourself currently experiencing the symptoms of menopause with a sense of frustration, it can be helpful to learn more about menopause to help you with this transition.
How Do I Know If I’m Experiencing Menopause?
Before you ask the vital question, “how long does menopause last?” you may want to recognize when you’re experiencing the official end of your menstrual cycle first.
For some women, lower abdominal pain after sex is the first sign that Aunt Flo has officially left the building. Since dryness is a common sign that menopause is looming on the horizon, the friction associated with intercourse is more likely to impact you, causing pain or discomfort after sex.
If you’re approaching your 50s and notice that your moods have begun to shift, menopause may be the culprit, too. An astonishing 23% of women experiencing menopause are likely to undergo emotional changes, meaning those unexplainable mood swings may just have an explanation after all.
If you think that you’re experiencing menopause but haven’t quite reached your 40s, don’t discount the idea that you’re undergoing this transition altogether. For women with hypothyroidism, early onset menopause is common and can kick-start menopause earlier.
Your body is likely to provide you with a myriad of clues that signify the end of your period and the start of this new phase in your womanhood. But once you know that you’re officially experiencing menopause, your next question is likely to center on how long these symptoms hang around.
After Symptoms Begin, How Long Does Menopause Last?
Hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances, oh my! What can you expect during menopause?
If you find that you’re not reacting to these menopausal changes well, remember that this is merely a normal part of being a woman. But that doesn’t stop you from wondering when these unwanted menopausal symptoms will end. I mean, you didn’t just say goodbye to menstrual pains only to welcome in a new set of symptoms, after all, right??
First, let’s discuss the three stages you’re likely to go through when experiencing menopause — perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.
The perimenopause stage, also commonly referred to as the premenopausal stage, can last anywhere from ten months to upwards of four years. The average length of perimenopause, though, is four years. This period is defined by the body’s transition from the menstrual cycle to the absence of periods.
You may notice, though, that your period hasn’t quite stopped entirely, but is just irregular. You can still be going through the stages of menopause at this point.
So, When Does Menopause End??
You’ll only hit the postmenopausal stage once you go a year without a period. This is one of the biggest signs of menopause finishing. However, some women find that it can take anywhere from a couple of years to upwards of ten years for them to transition through menopause completely.
Going through menopause is much like getting your period. Every woman starts — and ends — at a different time while experiencing a different set of symptoms, too. So while you may be eager to answer the anticipatory question, “How long does menopause last,” it’s important to understand that your body may transition into this phase earlier — or later — than others.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your gynecologist or primary care doctor for more information, a diagnosis, or resources that can help you during this phase.
Keep Things in Perspective
While you may not exactly find yourself eagerly awaiting menopause, it’s essential to keep everything in perspective to appreciate this transition in your life. The good news is that many women who have a healthy lifestyle before menopause aren’t likely to experience a drastic change in their sense of well-being during this time.
As an added bonus, you don’t have to deal with periods anymore. No more dealing with heavy periods, cramping bloating or wasted dollars spent on feminine hygiene products? Yes, please!
While getting through menopause may feel like a trying process, it’s pretty rewarding, too. Once you find yourself nearing the end of your transition, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief.