At What Age Does The Menopause Start
So to start with, the average age at which you will commence the approach the menopause is roughly 45 to 55.
The majority of women will start in this particular age group however, there are a number of women that will start earlier. It can be hereditary. So if your mother, your granny, your aunties, your older sisters all started slightly earlier, then that can be a very good indication that you might well start earlier too.
There can also be health issues if you smoke, if you are extremely overweight, if you have any specific health issues, then you may actually start a little bit earlier as well. Weve also got a very small number of women who will start a lot later Ive actually heard of women who are 58 and 59 who are still getting regular periods, although its just a very, very small number of women.
How Long Does The Menopause Last
Symptoms of the menopause can start months or even years before periods stop completely. They usually continue for around 4 years after your last period, though some womens symptoms continue for much longer.
The menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but its very difficult to predict when it will take place in an individual.
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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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Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.
- hormone replacement therapy tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if youre unable to take HRT.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- What is the cause of my hair loss?
- How many strands of hair am I losing per day?
- What type of hair loss do I have?
- Will my hair loss be permanent?
- Whats the best treatment for me?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hair loss may cause you distress whether it happens because of genetics, a disease, or even stress. Know that there are some treatments you can try, and expert dermatologists are there to help you. Your hair loss may be able to be reversed. See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice something wrong because the sooner you start treatment, the better.
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Do You Have Early Or Late Menopause
Figuring out if youre going through the transition early or late can help you gain a better understanding of how long menopause will last. If you start having irregular periods in your mid-40s, you may be experiencing early or premature menopause.
Heavy bleeding, spotting, a period after a year of no periods, or periods that are noticeably longer or shorter than normal can all signal early menopause, especially in combination with other common menopausal symptoms.
If you are 55 or older and still havent noticed menopause symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you with late-onset menopause.
Late menopause may actually have some health benefits, while early menopause could potentially cause problems. During menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries declines. In early-onset menopause, this cessation may cause problems such as osteoporosis. The longer your ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, the longer you can avoid osteoporosis.
If youre still having periods in your late 50s and 60s, see your doctor. Each womans reproductive system is different, so dont be alarmed until youve spoken to a doctor.
Alternative And Complementary Menopause Treatments
Some studies have found that soy products relieve hot flashes, but researchers are still looking into it. There arenât many large studies on whether other supplements such as black cohosh or âbioidenticalâ hormones work for menopause symptoms. Talk to your doctor before starting any herbal or dietary supplements.
Yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture are safer ways to manage menopause symptoms.
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With All That Said You Can Still Have A Great Sex Life In Menopause
Pizarro and Brown-James both agree on this point. In fact, Dr. Pizarro says meno post-menopausal people have very active sex lives even without taking estrogen. Whats more, sexual satisfaction might increase once someones been through menopause.
There are a few reasons that might happen. The worry of being pregnant is no longer there, says Brown-James. Also, some people experience an increase in their sexual awareness of their bodies. Many women have not been taught to explore their bodies and have internalized ideas that the vulva or vagina are dirty or for someone elses pleasure, not theirs, she explains. A lot of times, if the knowledge that none of that is true hasnt taken root before, it gets dispelled at this point, and women realize their bodies are really for themselves. Bonus: That may also lead to more intense orgasms, says Brown-James.
Duration Of Menopause Symptoms Varies From Woman To Woman
Most women are familiar with one of the major symptoms of menopause, hot flashes, in which normal body temperature rises and an intense feeling of heat suddenly flushes over the body. Hot flashes are usually accompanied by a red, flushed face and heavy sweating. Hot flashes at night are common, and can include night sweats. However, many women are not aware that there are varied types of hot flashes, and that they may even last beyond menopause!
New research from the Study of Womens Health Across the Nation, or SWAN, found that there are four types of hot flash categories classified with menopause symptoms, each with varied timing and duration. Of course, h
hes vary greatly from woman to woman, but since awareness is key to treatment, recognizing and understanding each type can greatly help reduce the discomfort associated with hot flashes.
The SWAN study tracked a group of over 3,300 women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, measured the physical, biological, and psychological health of these women from over seven research centers around the country. While actual menopause age varied, the study uncovered what hot flash symptoms many women can expect during this transition period of life, from perimenopause to postmenopause.
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Perimenopause And Menopausal Symptoms
The period around menopause, between the time she begins to have irregularities in her menses and having symptoms related to diminishing production of estrogen and progesterone from her ovaries, and the 12 months after which she has her final period, is called perimenopause. This perimenopausal period is what most people think of as menopause. She may have hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause as many as two to five or eight years before her menstrual periods finally stop. For some women this period of time can be ten years or longer. During perimenopause and menopause itself is when a woman suffers from hot flashes, decreased sexual drive and painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, and changes in weight, sleep, and urinary frequency, as well as irritability, mood swings, and crying spells.
Remedies For Vaginal Dryness
- Topical HRT – there are several creams and pessaries containing oestrogen that you can apply from once a day to once a week to relieve symptoms. Doctors recommend you tail them off every few months to check if you still need them. There is also a vaginal ‘ring’ which your doctor can fit, which releases small amounts of oestrogen.
- Replens® – this is a non-hormonal vaginal moisturising cream which you apply every three days. It works much better than water-based gels like K-YJelly® and is available from your pharmacist as well as on prescription.
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Diagnosis Of Premature Or Early Menopause
Premature and early menopause is diagnosed using a number of tests including:
- medical history, family history and medical examination
- investigations to rule out other causes of amenorrhoea , such as pregnancy, extreme weight loss, other hormone disturbances and some diseases of the reproductive system
- investigations into other conditions associated with premature or early menopause, such as autoimmune diseases
- genetic tests to check for the presence of genetic conditions associated with premature or early menopause
- blood tests to check hormone levels.
When To Seek Medical Advice
Although perimenopause is an inevitable part of every womans life, its still essential to see your gynecologist for an annual checkup. Theyll be able to assess your chances of developing menopause-related conditions and advise you on how to manage your symptoms.
However, should you notice any of the following warning signs, please seek medical attention right away.
- Side effects of hormone treatment
- Periods less than 21 days apart
- Bleeding between periods
How Will I Know If I Am Starting The Transition To Menopause
Sometimes it can be hard for you and your doctor to tell whether you are in perimenopause, the transition to menopause:
- Symptoms: Tell your doctor or nurse about any menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes or trouble sleeping.
- Irregular periods: Track your periods. Irregular periods may be your first sign of menopause.
- Hormone levels: Your doctor may test the amount of hormones in your blood if your periods stopped at an early age . Doctors dont usually recommend this test unless there is a medical reason to do so. This is because, for most women, hormone levels go up and down in an unpredictable way during the transition to menopause. So it is difficult to tell for sure whether you have gone through menopause or are getting close to it based on this blood test.
Is This The End Of The Menopause
So, by the end of the two years, you should be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, if you like. However, and this a huge however, this can depend on a whole range of factors. It can be your general health. How well did you look after yourself through the peri-menopause? It could be due to your diet. Are you eating well just now? It can be due to your stress factors because stress can really prolong the menopause quite dramatically. So, no matter what stage of menopause youre at at the minute, even if youre only just starting, its vital that you really look after yourself now. Because how you look after yourself at the beginning of the menopause may well determine how long it takes for you to get all the way through.
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Can I Get Pregnant During Menopause
The possibility of pregnancy disappears once you are postmenopausal, you have been without your period for an entire year . However, you can actually get pregnant during the menopause transition . If you dont want to become pregnant, you should continue to use some form of birth control until you have gone fully through menopause. Ask your healthcare provider before you stop using contraception.
For some women, getting pregnant can be difficult once theyre in their late 30s and 40s because of a decline in fertility. However, if becoming pregnant is the goal, there are fertility-enhancing treatments and techniques that can help you get pregnant. Make sure to speak to your healthcare provider about these options.
The Average Timeline For Menopause
The menopause age range varies by more than a decade. The average age is 51, but menopause can start in women from their mid-40s to late 50s. Most women experience the menopause stage in this age range, while some report symptoms into their 60s.
Natural menopause happens in three stages:
Sometimes perimenopause is confused with menopause. Perimenopause is when a woman starts to have hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. This can start as early as the 30s or as late as the 60s. This is considered either early or premature menopause and late menopause, and can occur for a variety of reasons, such as surgeries or hormonal changes.
Some women in perimenopause may also have the following symptoms:
- Breast tenderness
- Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
- Irregular periods or skipping periods
- Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
Additional symptoms may include:
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Changes in libido
- Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses
- Weight gain
- Hair loss or thinning
These symptoms are normal as part of the loss of estrogen production. However, if these are new symptoms after starting perimenopause, consult your doctor in order to rule out other health issues.
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Should I Continue Using Birth Control During The Transition To Menopause
Yes. You can still get pregnant during perimenopause, the transition to menopause, even if you miss your period for a month or a few months. During perimenopause you may still ovulate, or release an egg, on some months.
But it is impossible to know for sure when you will ovulate. If you dont want to get pregnant, you should continue to use birth control until one full year after your last period. Talk to your doctor about your birth control needs. Learn more about different .
You cant get pregnant after menopause, but anyone who has sex can get . If you are not in a monogamous relationship in which you and your partner have sex with each other and no one else, protect yourself by using a male condom or correctly every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. After menopause you may be more likely to get an STI from sex without a condom. Vaginal dryness or irritation is more common after menopause and can cause small cuts or tears during sex, exposing you to STIs.
Its Best Not To Ignore Any Changes That Cause You Distress
You may cringe at the thought of talking to your gynecologist about sex. But rest assured, there is no reason to feel awkward. If you’re dealing with these changes and are very much unhappy with them, talk to your doctor. Right now, this may be a conversation that needs to take place via telehealth due to the pandemic. If you feel dismissed, then Dr. Rowen encourages you to consider switching to another provider if at all possible. Go find someone who will listen to you and take your problems seriously, Dr. Rowen says. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan that may help you have a more fulfilling sex life, even after menopause.
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What Is Premature Menopause
Menopause, when it occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, is considered “natural” and is a normal part of aging. But, some women can experience menopause early, either as a result of a surgical intervention or damage to the ovaries . Menopause that occurs before the age of 45, regardless of the cause, is called early menopause. Menopause that occurs at 40 or younger is considered premature menopause.
Putting On A Few Pounds
Many women do put on weight around the menopause, but it’s not inevitable and your weight shouldn’t keep going up. It’s estimated that the ‘average’ woman puts on about 5 lb after the menopause, but it doesn’t all go on straightaway. Certainly your metabolism does tend to slow down as you get older, so you burn up fewer calories. However, with small adjustments in your diet, you may well be able to avoid putting on weight.
The bad news is that even if you don’t put on weight, you might find that the menopause does cause your shape to change. There is evidence that you tend to shift more towards an ‘apple’ rather than a ‘pear’ shape around the menopause, with excess weight stored around your midriff. This can increase your risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes.