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How long does menopause last? Key factors and More

As a middle-aged woman, the imminent arrival of menopause is probably, what

consumes your mind. We are all aware of the unmistakable sign of menopause, the

absence of the menstrual cycle. But when does it begin? Moreover, how long does it

last?


The journey towards menopause begins with perimenopause. Commonly,

perimenopause begins at the age of 40-44. This transitory period around menopause

can last anywhere between 2 to 10 years.


But how does one know that they are in this menopausal transition?


Well, due to the fluctuating hormone levels, you will begin to notice changes in the

menstrual cycle. Cycles may become longer or shorter, your bleeding pattern will

change, and you will also experience physical and emotional symptoms.


During the early stage of perimenopause, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion

increases, creating a shorter interval between menstrual cycles. As perimenopause

progresses towards the late stage, estrogen levels decline, resulting in progressively

irregular menstrual cycles with longer intervals between them. The symptoms of

perimenopause are the same as menopause, however, due to whatever little estrogen

that remains, perimenopausal symptoms are mild and less severe.


Then, at last, arrives the year-long dry spell of no menses, this is known as menopause.

During this time, you will experience the classic symptoms of menopause; hot flashes,

night sweats, dry and itchy skin, vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, etc. The average

age of menopause is 51 but can occur between ages 40 and 58.


After a year of menopause, you will enter the phase of postmenopause. And this is the

final leg of your reproductive journey. Postmenopause is permanent since the ovaries

will not regain their function to produce estrogen or progesterone. Frequently, the terms

menopause and postmenopause are interchangeable. Therefore, if one is talking about

menopause, one might be referring to postmenopause.


But what does postmenopause mean for you? Since your body will no longer produce

estrogen, you will continue to experience menopausal symptoms. Fortunately, over

time, these symptoms may decrease in intensity and frequency.


But even if these symptoms persist, that does not mean that you will have to endure the

consequences of low hormone levels.


So, how can you make this journey of menopause breezier for yourself?


● Address risk factors that worsen the symptoms of menopause. Factors such as

smoking, eating habits, alcohol consumption, or nutrient deficiencies affect

hormone levels and thus eventually menopausal symptoms. Foster a healthy

lifestyle by eating healthily and exercising regularly.

● Be aware of the health conditions that are affected by menopause. The drop in

estrogen levels increases your risk of other medical conditions such as

cardiovascular diseases and osteoarthritis.

● Watch out for the emotional and behavioral symptoms of menopause.

Menopause increases the risk of anxiety and depression, therefore, it is essential

to address declining mental health early on.

● Deal with insomnia. Many women observe changes in their sleep patterns during

menopause. So, to keep your mind healthy, tackle your sleep troubles to try to

get a goodnight's rest.

● Don't be afraid to try hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is the

mainstay of treatment for women dealing with persistent menopausal symptoms

that decrease the quality of life. Topical creams and vaginal suppositories do wonders to the body, especially for those dealing with vaginal dryness and atrophy. (ultimately improving your sex life)


Once you reach menopause or postmenopause, it will last for the rest of your life.

However, that does not mean that you are doomed to suffer this fate. Take charge early

on during the perimenopausal phase. Recognize the symptoms of low hormone levels

to manage the symptoms timely and take control of your life.








REFERENCES

1) Yazdkhasti, M., Simbar, M., & Abdi, F. (2015). Empowerment and coping strategies in

menopause women: a review. Iranian Red Crescent medical journal, 17(3), e18944.

https://doi.org/10.5812/ircmj.18944 2)


2) Jalava-Broman, Jaana & Junttila, Niina & Sillanmäki, Lauri & Mäkinen, Juha & Rautava,

Paivi. (2020). Psychological behavior patterns and coping with menopausal symptoms

among users and non-users of hormone replacement therapy in Finnish cohorts of

women aged 52-56 years. Maturitas. 133. 7-12. 10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.12.009.


3) Santoro N, Crawford SL, El Khoudary SR, Allshouse AA, Burnett-Bowie SA, Finkelstein

J, Derby C, Matthews K, Kravitz HM, Harlow SD, Greendale GA, Gold EB, Kazlauskaite

R, McConnell D, Neal-Perry G, Pavlovic J, Randolph J, Weiss G, Chen HY, Lasley B.

Menstrual Cycle Hormone Changes in Women Traversing Menopause: Study of

Women's Health Across the Nation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Jul

1;102(7):2218-2229. DOI: 10.1210/jc.2016-4017. PMID: 28368525; PMCID:

PMC5505186.


4) Santoro N. Perimenopause: From Research to Practice. J Womens Health (Larchmt).

2016 Apr;25(4):332-9. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2015.5556. Epub 2015 Dec 10. PMID:

26653408; PMCID: PMC4834516.

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