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How long does menopause last? — Ask Dr Jean

Ask Dr Jean 29 May 2019
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When it comes to women's health, there is no such thing as a silly question. Do you have a question you want answered, but have been too afraid or embarrassed to bring it up with your GP? Or you forgot to ask while you were in the doctor's surgery? Now, you can 'Ask Dr Jean'.


This question has been answered by Jean Hailes endocrinologist (hormone specialist) Dr Sonia Davison (pictured).

Question

How long does menopause last? Obviously the answer may differ between individual women, but in general how many years after the last period should a woman expect symptoms associated with menopause will continue? Thanks, Lyn.

Dr Sonia Davison

Answer

Menopause is actually the final menstrual period, resulting from reaching the end of the ovaries' egg supply. Whilst this is a single event, the symptoms associated with menopause can start to occur even 10 years before menopause, in 'perimenopause', and can persist many years after menopause in some women.

The usual age of menopause is between 45 and 55 years, with a median of 51 to 52 years. Around one fifth of women have no symptoms around menopause, and another 20% have severe symptoms (typically: flushes, sweats, sleep disturbance, mood fluctuations, vaginal dryness, urinary symptoms).

A recent Melbourne study of over 2000 women reported that moderate to severe flushes were still experienced by 15.1% of women from age 55 to 59 years, and in 6.5% of women aged 60-65 years.

If bothersome menopausal symptoms persist, there are a number of options for management, including lifestyle measures, medications (hormonal and non-hormonal) and complementary therapies. These are outlined on our website here.

If menopause has occurred many years ago and there is a recurrence of symptoms then it is likely that there is another cause for symptoms. This should be assessed by someone with expertise in this area. Common culprits include medications but there are a number of other causes, and specialist advice may be required.