How Long Does Menopause Last?

How Long Does Menopause Last?

Menopause, historically, hasn’t gotten much attention in our society. You hear about your period as a girl from your mom or friends and even learn about menstruation and sexual health in grade school. 

Your teacher and textbooks may have made a glancing reference to menopause — the time when your period stops for good— but that’s probably about it. The lack of information is profound when you realize that approximately 1.3 million women in the United States enter menopause each year. 

Here at OBGYN Care in Houston, Texas, Sharon Smith, MD, our expert and compassionate OB/GYN, wants you to embrace menopause and celebrate this next state of your life. 

Here’s what you need to know about menopause and how to manage any symptoms that may arise as your hormones shift.

When menopause starts

When you’re somewhere in your late 30s to early 40s, you go through a stage called perimenopause. Perimenopause links your fertile years with your menopausal years, when you no longer menstruate and can no longer conceive a child. 

Both perimenopause and menopause are the result of downward shifts in your hormones. When your hormones are unbalanced, you may experience a range of unpleasant and disruptive symptoms.

You know that you’re in perimenopause when you notice changes in how often your period comes and how long it lasts. You may experience:

Changes in your period during perimenopause are usually caused by decreased levels of the hormone progesterone. Dr. Smith may prescribe a short course of progesterone to help stop a prolonged period and ease other unpleasant symptoms. 

Why menopause never stops

The perimenopausal phase of your life lasts until you no longer have a period for at least 12 months. If your period stops for six months, then comes back again, you’re not in menopause; you’re still in perimenopause.

But if you haven’t had a period in a year, you are considered to have hit menopause. Menopause doesn’t last for a particular length of time. It simply marks the transition that perimenopause started. 

Menopause is (for now, at least) permanent. Your ovaries no longer produce and release eggs each month. You don’t shed your uterine lining anymore. 

As soon as you hit menopause, you’re no longer perimenopausal; you’re postmenopausal. You remain postmenopausal for the rest of your life. 

Symptoms may trouble you

During the perimenopausal stage and once you reach menopause, the downward shifts in your hormones can cause a range of symptoms that may make you uncomfortable or reduce your quality of life. 

Typical symptoms that women experience during perimenopause and postmenopause include:

The loss of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone can also lead to health complications, such as the bone loss of osteopenia and osteoporosis. 

Many of the health advantages women enjoyed when compared to men, such as reduced incidence of heart attack, may diminish or disappear after menopause.

Without treatment, you may experience symptoms related to menopause for anywhere from a few years to up to 10 years. But the changes that the lack of hormones in the postmenopausal period bring may be permanent, including the loss of bone density, which increases your risk for fractures.

Replace hormones to reduce symptoms

Even if your body no longer produces the hormones you need to maintain strong bones, healthy skin and hair, and vitality, you don’t have to suffer. We offer bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), which is made from plant hormones engineered to be identical to human female hormones.

Because BHRT mimics your own natural hormones, you get relief from symptoms without the worry of side effects. We may also recommend other therapies, including topical creams, to alleviate symptoms such as vaginal dryness or issues with sleep. 

You can’t stop menopause, but you can stop the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Find out if you’re a candidate for BHRT. Contact our Houston, Texas, office today. You can phone our friendly staff or use our online form to request an appointment.

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