It’s easy to think that menopausal symptoms only last for one or two years.
The menopause itself, by definition, is marked by 12 consecutive months without your period. Before that 12-month timeframe, you’re perimenopausal, and after that, you are postmenopausal. Therefore, it’s tempting to assume that menopausal symptoms will only last for a couple of years surrounding the menopause. While this is the case for some women, it’s not the case for all (or even most) women. In fact, recent studies find that on average, menopausal symptoms last about 7 years in the US and the UK, although this varies depending on factors such as race and family history. That said, menopausal symptoms can last for many more years, even a decade or more, especially with little treatment.
…it’s not typical for menopausal symptoms to come back once they’ve stopped, unless you’re taken off treatment.
Although it may not seem too comforting, there is no answer to suggest how long menopausal symptoms will last. It’s completely individual, in both length and severity. Some women will simply sail through it while others may struggle with their symptoms for a longer period of time. Overall, it’s important to remember that it’s not uncommon for menopausal symptoms to last for more than the average amount of years, so there is no need to worry that something is wrong with you.
Additionally, symptoms can come and go! For Penny Jaquet, who started the menopause at 42, her symptoms (particularly her hot flushes) returned at the age of 60, a full 18 years after starting the menopause! Fear not, it’s not typical for menopausal symptoms to come back once they’ve stopped, unless you’re taken off treatment. The point is that there is no typical course for menopausal symptoms: everyone has a different experience.
…it’s worth investing time in finding the right long-term alternative treatment for you…
While a longer duration of menopausal symptoms is not a sign of troubling health, it’s of course very unpleasant and it’s important to talk to your GP about long-term solutions. Although there is no concrete evidence to suggest that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) shouldn’t be taken for long periods of time – in fact recent evidence indicates that there is no limit on how long you can take HRT – many doctors are still hesitant to prescribe HRT after five years of symptoms. Therefore, if you find yourself experiencing symptoms for a relatively long time and are off HRT (if you ever started it at all), it’s worth investing time in finding the right long-term alternative treatment for you (as a start, see our article on Alternatives to HRT).
While this may all seem like bad news, it doesn’t mean you’ll have a horrible experience. There are plenty of ways to successfully manage your symptoms, regardless of how long they last. What’s important is being informed and prepared for whatever journey your menopause takes you on. Don’t let a long-lasting menopause discourage you! Your symptoms will eventually subside, and until then, you can still live a completely fulfilling and normal life, even when it doesn’t always feel like it.