On Average Menopause Begins Around Age 52
Kathi Valeii is a freelance writer covering the intersections of health, parenting, and social justice.
Menopause occurs after a person stops having their period for 12 consecutive months. It naturally happens for many people when they are between the ages of 40 and 58. In the United States, the average age for menopause to start is 52 years.
Certain factors, like never having children and smoking, can make it more likely that menopause will occur earlier.
Before menopause, declining estrogen levels can cause people who menstruate to experience premenopausal symptoms. Menstrual changes, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and other symptoms are the result of hormonal shifts that are taking place during this time, which is called perimenopause.
Perimenopause can last from two to eight years. On average, people experience perimenopause for four years before menopause begins.
While many people go through menopause in their early fifties, there are a number of unique factors that determine at what age a person will start menopause, as well as what their experience will be like.
Is There A Risk Of Reactivated Endometriosis Transforming Into Cancer
Reactivation of endometriosis by HRT is very rare and it is impossible to say how likely it is for endometriosis to turn into cancer. However, there have been a few reported cases of it occurring. This means that while on HRT, if you develop new symptoms or old symptoms start to recur, it is important to discuss this with your healthcare professional who can start any investigations that are needed. From all the evidence it seems that there is very little risk of reactivation of endometriosis or cancer for women on HRT who have had a removal of both of their ovaries and all of their endometriosis removed. For women with some endometriosis who are under 45 or who have significant menopause symptoms the evidence suggests that the benefit of taking HRT to manage the menopause symptoms outweighs the small risk of worsening of the endometriosis or risk of cancer.
How Can I Treat The Symptoms
There are a bunch of ways.
Lifestyle changes. A healthy diet and regular exercise program will help manage your symptoms and boost your health. This is a great time to finally kick any old, unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking too much alcohol. To help with hot flashes, dress lightly and in layers. Avoid triggers like caffeine and spicy foods. And if you stay sexually active, that may help preserve your vaginal lining.
Prescription medication for hot flashes. If you still have your uterus, your doctor might prescribe treatment with estrogen and progesterone. This is called combination hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy . It helps with hot flashes and night sweats, and it may help prevent osteoporosis. If you donât have a uterus, you might get estrogen alone.
Hormone therapy isnât for everyone. Donât take it if you’ve ever had breast cancer, uterine or “endometrial” cancer, blood clots, liver disease, or a stroke. Also don’t take it if you might be pregnant or you have undiagnosed vaginal bleeding.
If you can’t or don’t want to take hormones, other medications can ease symptoms. They include antidepressants, antiseizure drugs, or blood pressure medications to help with hot flashes and mood swings.
Prescription and OTC medication for vaginal dryness and sleep problems. You can try topical estrogen, lubricants, and non-estrogen prescriptions for dryness and painful sex. OTC or prescription sleep aids can help if you have trouble falling asleep.
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Is It Early Or Premature Menopause
Early menopause is menopause that begins between the ages of 40 and 45.
Premature menopause starts even earlier, before age 40. Many doctors now refer to premature menopause as premature ovarian failure or primary ovarian insufficiency. These terms reduce some of the stigma for younger women going through menopause.
Early menopause is relatively uncommon. Premature menopause is even less common, with only about
- change in diet or exercise
- response to a medication or contraceptive
The low estrogen levels associated with missed periods can lead to bone loss. Early treatment can help prevent bone damage.
Other Drugs Used For Menopausal Symptoms
Despite its risks, hormone therapy appears to be the most effective treatment for hot flashes. There are, however, nonhormonal treatments for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
The antidepressants known as selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors are sometimes used for managing mood changes and hot flashes. A low-dose formulation of paroxetine is approved to treat moderate-to-severe hot flashes associated with menopause. Other SSRIs and similar antidepressant medicines are used “off-label” and may have some benefit too. They include fluoxetine , sertraline , venlafaxine , desvenlafaxine , paroxetine , and escitalopram .
Several small studies have suggested that gabapentin , a drug used for seizures and nerve pain, may relieve hot flashes. This drug is sometimes prescribed “off-label” for treating hot flash symptoms. However, in 2013 the FDA decided against approving gabapentin for this indication because the drug demonstrated only modest benefit. Gabapentin may cause:
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What Are Common Menopause Symptoms
Some common menopause symptoms are:
Irregular periods: Periods becoming shorter, longer, heavier, lighter. Skipping periods.
Hot flashes: A hot flash is a sudden, sometimes intense feeling of heat that rushes to your face and upper body. Hot flashes can be really uncomfortable, but they usually only last a few minutes. They can happen a few times a day, a few times a week, or a few times a month.
Night sweats: Hot flashes that wake you up in the middle of the night.
Sleep problems: You may have insomnia trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may also start to wake up much earlier than you used to.
Vaginal changes: The lining of your vagina may become thinner, drier, or less stretchy. This can cause dryness or discomfort during sex.
Urinary or bladder infections: ;You may have to pee more often or get more frequent urinary tract or bladder infections.
Mood changes: Hormone changes can make you feel anxious, irritable, and tired. Your sex drive might change, too.
Weaker bones: Your bones will probably weaken during menopause. If its really bad, it can lead to osteoporosis after menopause. Getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week;can help you maintain bone health.;
Some people may have a long and difficult perimenopause, up to 1012 years. But most people find that the common menopause symptoms are temporary and only last 35 years.
How Long Do Menopause
Even though menopause marks a point in time in which a woman has not menstruated for 12 months and is no longer ovulating , the symptoms of menopause may persist.
Most women stop having hot flashes within five years following their final menstrual period. However, a report on the;management of menstrual symptoms notes that the Penn Ovarian Aging Study found that more than one-third of women continued to have moderate to severe hot flashes for 10 years or more. Women who began having hot flashes as they entered perimenopause had them longer, for an average of 11.6 years. African-American women had a longer duration than white women.
Vaginal dryness, burning, and itchiness also occurs;as a result of estrogen deficiency. The difference with this symptom is that it tends to get worse as women get older. In fact, only between one quarter and one third of women in perimenopause or early postmenopause experience vaginal dryness. But as women reach late postmenopause, about half report vaginal dryness.;
There are other symptoms that may begin during perimenopause and persist throughout postmenopause. These include:
- Sleep problems
- Cognitive changes such as memory loss
- Muscle and joint pains
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Hysterectomy With Ovaries Left Intact
People who have their ovaries intact, but without their uterus, won’t get their period anymore. They may, however, still experience premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder because the hormones made by the ovaries cause the body to continue to “cycle” monthly.
Occasionally, people whose ovaries were not removed;during a hysterectomy experience;hot flashes;and other menopausal symptoms. This is mostly due to the disturbance of the blood supply to the ovaries during surgery.
In addition, some people may undergo menopause a few years sooner than they normally would if they never underwent a hysterectomy .
Predicting Natural Menopause: Why Does Age Matter
If theres not a lot that women can do to change when theyll experience menopause, why does predicting it even matter?
It would be helpful for every woman to know exactly when menopause will arrive. Beyond recognizing and addressing issues such as increased cardiovascular disease risk and risks related to bone health, if a woman knows her age of menopause and how long the perimenopause transition will last, it could help her make important health decisions, says Faubion.
If youre bleeding like crazy it would be helpful to know, she says.
As of now, research hasnt uncovered a way to determine when a women will go into menopause, but having that information could be useful in making decisions such as whether to have a hysterectomy or other invasive procedures, says Faubion. If menopause is going to be a few months or a year from now, you may choose to wait it out; if it’s going to be five years from now, you might want to go ahead and have an invasive procedure, she says.
The ability to predict when menopause will occur could also help with managing menopause symptoms or deciding which type of birth control to use, adds Faubion.
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Early Menopause At 46 Was A Surprise Now I Realize It Was Also A Gift
I spent a chunk of this year crunching the numbers, like some kind of gynecological accountant. It boiled down to this: If I got to the end of July with no period, I had probably reached menopause. If I got to the end of August, I definitely had.
A few weeks before my 46th birthday in September, I reached the 12-month milestone, which officially made me a menopausal woman.
Menopause feels like the world is giving me nutrients back. Like both my body and my soul have been thanked for their hard work and given emeritus status and a big budget to simply explore.
I dont feel wistful about this. With preteen children, my brain has long moved past childbearing years. But its surprising that my body followed, wrapping it all up far sooner than I expected. The average age for menopause is about 52, so reaching menopause between the ages of 40 and 45 is considered early menopause .
But when hot flashes found me last year, I had a feeling I was on a different course than most other women my age. My periods had been erratic since my early 40s. Other things were happening, too. My sex drive was often lackluster, my moods were more noticeable and something unsettling was happening around my midsection.
My doctor first confirmed it wasnt a problem with my thyroid. Then she tested the levels of my follicle-stimulating hormone. While not a perfect indicator, the test suggested I was well on my way through the transition.
Menopause Stages: Treatment And Care
Menopause represents an integral part of a womans life and it normally occurs with aging. It usually starts around 40 years of age, but there are no strict rules about it some women can start experiencing menopause earlier, some much later.;
Generally, many women go through menopause without any serious symptoms or problems, but some have quite a hard time. Lets go over the menopause stages and find out about possible menopause care and treatment.;
Natural menopause usually starts in your 40s and it has three distinct stages:;
Can you go through menopause twice?is one of the questions many women ask their gynecologists, especially if their symptoms last for a very long time. The truth is that women tend to confuse perimenopause with menopause because they manifest in a similar way.;
Perimenopause is the period before menopause and it represents the transition phase when your body starts producing less and less estrogen. This phase can last up to ten years before you actually enter menopause which is why you should always consult your gynecologist about the matter. Your gynecologist will diagnose you with menopause only after youve gone without your period for 12 consecutive months.;
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What Are The Stages Leading Up To Menopause
After puberty, there are three other phases of female fertility:
- Pre-menopause:;Women have full ovarian function, regularly produce estrogen and ovulate.
- Perimenopause:;The ovaries begin to fluctuate in their ovulation and production of estrogen, which can result in unpredictable menstrual cycles and symptoms.
- Menopause: When the ovaries have shut down. Someone would be in menopause after 12 months without menses.
Vaginal Lubricants For Menopause Symptoms
In women for whom oral or vaginal estrogens are deemed inappropriate, such as breast cancer survivors, or women who do not wish to take oral or vaginal estrogen, there are varieties of over-the-counter vaginal lubricants. However, they are probably not as effective in relieving vaginal symptoms as replacing the estrogen deficiency with oral or local estrogen.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Premature Menopause
Symptoms of premature menopause are often the same as those experienced by women undergoing natural menopause and may include:
- Irregular or missed periods
- Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
- Hot flashes
These symptoms are a sign that the ovaries are producing less estrogen.
Along with the above symptoms, some women may experience:
- You have undergone chemotherapy or radiation
- You or a family member has an autoimmune disorder such as hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, or lupus
- You have unsuccessfully tried to become pregnant for more than a year
- Your mother or sister experienced premature menopause
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause
Women may have different signs or symptoms at menopause. Thats because estrogen is used by many parts of your body. As you have less estrogen, you could have various symptoms. Many women experience very mild symptoms that are easily treated by lifestyle changes, like avoiding caffeine or carrying a portable fan to use when a hot flash strikes. Some women dont require any treatment at all. Other symptoms can be more problematic.
Here are the most common changes you might notice at midlife. Some may be part of aging rather than directly related to menopause.
Change in your period. This might be what you notice first. Your periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. You might bleed more or less than usual. These are all normal changes, but to make sure there isnt a problem, see your doctor if:
- Your periods come very close together
- You have heavy bleeding
- Your periods last more than a week
- Your periods resume after no bleeding for more than a year
Vaginal health and bladder control. Your vagina may get drier. This could make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Or, you could have other health problems, such as vaginal or bladder infections. Some women also find it hard to hold their urine long enough to get to the bathroom. This loss of bladder control is called incontinence. You may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing.
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Womens Wellness: 5 Things To Know About Early Menopause
So you missed a period. Or two. You think to yourself, Im too young for menopause. Right?
Not necessarily. Early menopause, between the ages of 40 and 45, affects about 5 percent of women. Premature menopause, before age 40, affects about 1 percent of women.
You are said to be in menopause if you have gone a full 12 months with no menstrual period. Thats when your ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones necessary to maintain your menstrual cycles and fertility. For most women, menopause occurs naturally at about age 51. With increasing life expectancy, many women will spend up to 40 percent of their lives in the postmenopausal stage.
For some women, menopause is induced early because of treatments needed to save their lives, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. For others, its genetic conditions, autoimmune disorders or even unknown reasons that bring about this change.
So, without a big neon billboard saying, Welcome to Menopause, what should you do? Here are 5 Things You Need to Know about Early Menopause:
3. Your family plans may change. If you wish to have a family, you may need to consider options such as freezing embryos or eggs. If you had planned to have children, you may need to allow yourself to envision a new dream, such as building your family through in vitro fertilization with donor eggs, adoption or surrogacy.
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Risks Of Premature & Early Menopause
The risks of developing osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are higher for women with premature or early menopause than for women reaching menopause at the expected age. For this reason, it is important that you seek advice and treatment from your doctor.
According to community studies, women who go through premature or early menopause without hormone treatment have a reduced life expectancy by about two years.
The advice below is based on current expert opinion, as there are no studies on women with premature or early menopause that establish which prevention strategies are effective.
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