During that special time of the month, many women joke about how much they are looking forward to menopause when period and pregnancy concerns both become a thing of the past. Menopause is a time of change, however, and the adjustment can be difficult if you don’t know what to expect. How long does menopause last and when does it start? The answers to these questions and others will help prepare you for the journey ahead so you can face menopause with confidence.
When Does Menopause Start?
For most women, menopause begins somewhere between the ages of 45 and 55 and, while it can start earlier or later, the average age of menopause onset in the United States is 51. Signs that you’ve begun menopause include:
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- Irregular periods, often occurring every 2-4 months
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Problems falling asleep or sleeping through the night
- Mood swings
- Thinning of the hair and skin
How Long Does Menopause Last?
You are said to be postmenopausal when you have not had a period at all for one year. At this time you are considered to be infertile, though you may still an enjoy an active sex life. Once menopause begins, you are considered to be menopausal until reaching postmenopause. The entire process of menopause, from the onset of perimenopause to postmenopause, typically takes about four years.
What’s All This Talk About Hormone Therapy for Menopause?
Throughout your life, your ovaries produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These are the chemicals that regulate your period and fertility. As you approach menopause, your ovaries start to gradually make less of these hormones, which is what causes hot flashes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms. Some women find that reintroducing these hormones back into their body through hormone replacement therapy (HRT) eases their symptoms and makes the transition into postmenopasue easier. HRT may also decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis and heart disease.
Are There Ways to Handle Menopause’s Emotional Changes?
Absolutely. Mood swings and emotional episodes are a very real part of menopause and there are several ways to deal with them. Hormone replacement therapy during menopause can help to keep their mood in check during this challenging time. You may also benefit from deep breathing exercises, meditation and other stress relief practices. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to keep your body functioning at its best during menopause and lean on your friends who are likely right there with you.
The next time you find yourself hot, sweaty, exasperated and asking, “Just how long does menopause last?!”, take a deep breath and try to remember that your symptoms are temporary and there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re not reaching that light quickly enough, reach out and call (561) 922-9967 and we’ll help you explore your options.