Menopause can be a confusing time for women. All the hormonal and functional changes cause many people to wonder: “How long does menopause last?”
Menopause is a normal part of aging that occurs after a woman’s final menstrual cycle, typically during her 40s or 50s. In most cases, after a woman does not have a period for 12 months, she is considered to be in menopause. The change happens when the body produces lower levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones. These hormonal changes cause physiological and emotional disruptions that show up as specific symptoms and sometimes even health conditions.
Menopause comes on gradually, so some women don’t notice it until they start experiencing significant issues that can make it difficult to get through day-to-day activities. This guide will explain how long menopause lasts, symptoms to look out for, and tips for dealing with this crucial time in a woman’s life.
How Long Menopause Lasts and the Symptoms
According to a study published in Jama Internal Medicine, menopausal symptoms last around 4.5 years on average after a woman’s last period and 7.4 years in total. This varies for many women, with some experiencing symptoms that last seven years, or even up to 11. Here are a few of the most common symptoms women experience during menopause:
- Hot Flashes
Hot flashes cause a sudden feeling of warmth through the face and upper body. They are caused by decreased estrogen levels, which control the body’s temperature, making it more sensitive to environmental shifts. This sensation can last a few seconds, several minutes, or even longer. Hot flashes can affect women throughout the day, or numerous times per month.
- Night Sweats
Night sweats are a type of hot flash that affects women during sleep. They can wake women up while they’re sleeping and cause excessive tiredness throughout the day. Night sweats occur when the body is trying to regulate its temperature but instead causes hot flashes and sweating.
- Mood Swings
Women in menopause often experience significant shifts in mood due to hormonal changes. They may feel happy one minute and depressed and irritable the next, without any direct cause.
- Cold Flashes
The opposite of hot flashes, the misregulation of the body’s temperature can cause cold flashes. Women who experience cold flashes may feel chills, cold feet, or even shivering after the body cools down from a hot flash.
- Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness can cause discomfort and problems during sex. It can make sex painful, cause low libido, or bring on frequent urges to urinate. This vaginal dryness is caused by the drop in estrogen, which attributes to the thinning of the vaginal tissues and lack of hormones, leading to dryness and disinterest in sexual activities.
- Weight Gain
The reduced estrogen levels can create a higher testosterone level, which causes the fat to deposit differently throughout the body and is attributed to weight gain. Many women experience increased fat in the stomach or waistline.
Menopausal symptoms can be uncomfortable and distracting. Women experiencing any of these symptoms should speak with a medical professional to find the best solutions for their individual needs.
Tips on Coping With Menopausal Symptoms
There are methods of treating the difficulties that often accompany menopausal symptoms through naturopathic medicine and holistic means. Simple lifestyle changes can make a significant difference in mood, energy, hot flashes, and other symptoms. Here are a few tips on how women can deal with their menopausal symptoms through alternative means and holistic medicine:
Nutrition plays a major role in managing menopause symptoms. Cutting out refined carbs, sugar, processed foods, and alcohol can help women feel better with more relief. Try opting for plant-based diets high in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains to keep the body functioning at its best and reduce menopausal symptoms.
2. Stay Active
The metabolism often slows down during menopause. Some women also tend toward emotional eating, which can spike during menopause due to hormonal changes. This makes it easier for women to gain weight. Combining good nutrition with a healthy, physically active lifestyle not only keeps the weight off, but the exercise helps boost your mood, keeps your energy up, and reduces the likelihood of hot flashes and night sweats.
3. Drink Water
Staying hydrated can help prevent the vaginal dryness and bloating that are often associated with menopause. It can also boost the metabolism and help with weight loss. The amount of water women should drink varies, but many medical professionals agree that 64 ounces of water per day is a healthy guideline. Be sure to get enough water to help soothe menopause symptoms and prevent dehydration.
4. Herbs and Supplements
Certain herbs and supplements are said to treat menopause symptoms as a form of holistic medicine. Some of these herbs include black cohosh, red clover, female ginseng, evening primrose oil, soy, and more. Herbs and supplements can be a highly effective form of relief for menopausal symptoms and help balance hormone levels.
5. Understand and Manage Your Triggers
While menopausal symptoms can sometimes seem random and unpredictable, certain triggers cause them to occur. There may be specific foods and drinks, for instance, that can trigger night sweats, mood swings, and bloating. Or certain situations can create stress and cause hot flashes to occur. Understanding the symptoms you are prone to and the specific triggers that tend to induce them is important to preventing and managing them.
Approaching solutions for menopause through a holistic lens takes the whole body into consideration for treatment. These natural therapies and health-centered solutions target menopausal symptoms for active relief through lifestyle changes and supplemental factors.
Consult With a Naturopathic Doctor
Women who wonder, “How long does menopause last?” can explore natural remedies to find relief. Dr. Karen Threlkel is licensed in naturopathic medicine and offers a full range of treatments to patients in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
Make an appointment with Dr. Threlkel today for a consultation to find out more about natural remedies and effective treatments for menopause.