If you’re a woman in your 40s, you know menopause and the symptoms it can bring are just ahead. But many of our patients at Progressive Women’s Health in Friendswood, Texas, don’t know what to look for or how long these symptoms last.
Board-certified OB/GYN, Asia Mohsin, MD, and our compassionate care team specialize in helping women of all ages have the best reproductive health possible. We also know that being a woman doesn’t come with a handbook, so we’ve created this short guide about menopause and how long it lasts.
How long is menopause?
You officially enter menopause when you’ve stopped menstruating for at least 12 consecutive months. But menopause doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years from when you first experience symptoms to when you transition into menopause.
This time period is called perimenopause, and it’s usually what women mean when they talk about the symptoms of menopause. On average, women go through about four years of perimenopause before entering menopause. For some women, however, symptoms associated with perimenopause can last up to 11 years.
When perimenopause begins and how long symptoms occur depends on many factors, including:
- Genetics and family history
- Medical history
- Lifestyle and any extreme stress
Generally speaking, most women start to notice the first signs of perimenopause sometime in their late 40s, and the average age American women officially enter menopause is age 51. Keep in mind that every woman is different, and some women start perimenopause in their early 40s or late 30s.
How can I tell when perimenopause starts?
Every woman’s body reacts a little differently to the hormone changes that come with perimenopause. Some women don’t have any symptoms or only experience a few tolerable symptoms.
Other women have problematic symptoms that disrupt their quality of life. For example, more than two-thirds of women have hot flashes and night sweats, which can make life miserable. If you’re approaching your late 40s, some of the most common perimenopausal symptoms to look for include:
- Changes in your menstrual cycle (e.g., more or less frequent) and period (e.g., heavier or lighter)
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Mood swings, irritability, or depression
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during or after sex
You might also experience cognitive symptoms, such as trouble concentrating, being more forgetful, or having “brain fog.”
Can anything help me get through menopause?
The good news is that if you’re experiencing unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a great way to overcome them. At Progressive Women’s Health, Dr. Mohsin customizes your treatment to safely and effectively bring your hormones into a balanced state, reducing your symptoms.
Every woman is different, so Dr. Mohsin offers different types of HRT based on your unique hormone levels and symptoms. These different hormone replacement treatments may include one or more of the following:
- Oral tablets, usually taken once a day
- Skin patches, changed every few days and helpful if oral medicines are difficult for you
- Topical gels, which you rub into your skin daily
- Pellets, which are implanted below your skin and replaced every few months
- Vaginal creams or rings for treating vaginal dryness
To learn more about menopause and how we can treat your symptoms, call 281-626-7694 or book an appointment online with Progressive Women’s Health today.