Menopause is a natural phase of life for women. However, it can come with many changes, including unwanted symptoms that affect daily life. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, it’s important to understand that there are many ways our women’s health care providers can help, from providing treatments and suggesting lifestyle changes. Our team is also here to answer all your questions, so you are prepared and empowered over your own health. One common question you may have is whether menopause symptoms ever go away. The simple answer is yes. However, keep in mind that menopause is anything but simple. We’ll discuss how long menopause symptoms last, what factors affect symptom duration, and other complexities of menopause in this article.
One of your best resources during menopause is your women’s health care provider. Our team can answer your questions and help you understand what to expect during menopause. Every woman is different, but there are some common experiences many women have during menopause that we can discuss and strategize for based on your individual circumstances.
It’s important for women to understand the different phases of menopause. While many people use the term “menopause” as a catch all for symptoms and health conditions related to low hormone levels as we reach middle age, there are actually three distinct phases in the transition from pre-menopause to post-menopause. They are:
Perimenopause is the period leading up to your last period. During this time, hormones like estrogen and progesterone start to decline and fluctuate. With these changing hormone levels, you may experience several symptoms associated with menopause. You may also experience irregular periods because of changing hormone levels. This is the transition into menopause. On average, perimenopause starts at age 47 and lasts approximately 4 years before reaching the next phase. However, every woman is different, and some may have longer or shorter timelines for perimenopause. You can also start perimenopause earlier or later.
Menopause is the next phase in the transition. This is actually a point in time, rather than a time span like perimenopause. Menopause is when you reach the 12-month mark from your last period. Immediately after reaching this part of the phase, you are considered postmenopausal.
Postmenopause is the time that comes after you haven’t had a period for 12 months and lasts the rest of your life. During early postmenopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels may keep declining and some women continue to experience symptoms during postmenopause. However, typically symptoms do typically go away at some point during postmenopause.
Low estrogen and progesterone levels during the menopause transition can cause many different symptoms. In fact, an estimated 80% of women experience some menopause symptoms. Common symptoms you may experience include:
Many women will see symptoms during perimenopause in the three to five years or so before reaching the menopause stage. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, sometimes even interfering with day-to-day life. Each person is different, so you may experience different symptoms or different levels of severity compared to others. If you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause, talk to our women’s health care providers about options for relief.
The good news is, you don’t have to suffer with your menopause symptoms. There are many ways our women’s health care team can help you address your symptoms. For some women, simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in alleviating menopause symptoms. For example, eating a healthy diet, taking part in exercise, and reducing stress levels can all help with your symptoms.
However, in many cases you may need menopause treatment with hormones to relieve your symptoms. As symptoms are typically due to low and imbalanced hormone levels, hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment option that can reduce or eliminate your symptoms. We generally recommend taking the lowest dose of estrogen (and progesterone if you still have your uterus) that helps your symptoms. Our providers can help you determine if this treatment solution is right for you.
If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, you might wonder if they ever go away. The good news is, menopause symptoms do typically fade away with time. While there is no straightforward answer for how long menopause symptoms last, there are studies that show the average duration to expect.
In the past, many women’s health care providers believed that symptoms like hot flashes usually disappeared within six to 24 months. However, more recent research suggests that the timeline for menopause symptoms is longer than this. One study from 2015 looked at how long vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) lasted for menopausal women. The researchers found that the average duration of hot flashes and night sweats was 7.4 years, with 4.5 of those years occurring during postmenopause after the last period. However, it’s important to note that some women have symptoms for a shorter amount of time and others a longer amount of time. For instance, some of the women in the 13 year follow up still had symptoms.
The researchers in the study recommended that doctors advise women to expect symptoms for about 7 years because that was the average amount of time for the women in the study. However, there are health and lifestyle factors that may affect how long you experience menopause symptoms.
The 2015 study also found that certain factors were associated with longer timelines for menopause symptoms. For instance, they found that women whose symptoms started earlier, such as when they were premenopausal, tended to experience hot flashes for longer, with an average time of 11.8 years total and 9.4 years after their last period. By contrast, women who only experienced symptoms after their last period tended to only have them for an average of three and a half years. They also found that African American women tended to experience symptoms longer than white women.
Some other factors that seemed to be linked to having menopause symptoms for longer included being overweight, smoking, having high stress levels, and having anxiety or depressive symptoms.
Each woman has her own “schedule” for menopause and its symptoms. However, genetics also seems to play a role. Specifically, typically your menopause transition will look similar to your mother’s and grandmother’s for age and timeline. Therefore, there are many things that can affect how long you experience menopause symptoms. Our women’s health care providers can help you look at many different factors and make a plan for how to manage your symptoms now and in the future.
Considering that menopause symptoms can last years, it’s helpful to discuss your symptoms with our health care providers. As we mentioned, there are many options for relieving your symptoms. Our team can create personalized treatment solutions based on your specific needs. We are your partners in improving your overall health and wellbeing, during every phase of life.
As a women’s health clinic owned and operated by women, we are here to empower you to live a healthier life. Our team at HerKare is here to help you create a roadmap for lifelong health. We offer a variety of women’s health care services, from birth control counseling to menopause treatments to help you feel your best at any age. Make an appointment today to discuss your symptoms and get quality, individualized care from our health care providers.