How Long Do Menopause Symptoms Last?

Factors like genetics and lifestyle can influence duration and symptoms

The transition to menopause lasts an average of four years, although hot flashes and some other symptoms may last for a decade or longer. How long it takes you to reach menopause can vary depending on lifestyle factors, genetics, and your general health.

This article discusses the age at which most people start the process and reach menopause, how long that takes, on average, and what factors can influence this.

While it can be helpful to get a sense of what is typical and even “compare notes” with friends, remember that your menopause experience is truly unique to you.

Two women having a discussion
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How Long Do Perimenopause and Menopause Last?

Perimenopause, sometimes referred to as menopausal transition, starts when a woman begins experiencing changes in her menstrual cycle (for example, longer or shorter cycles), as well as symptoms related to a decline in estrogen levels—most notably hot flashes.

Menopause itself is the point at which perimenopause ends. This is marked by not having had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months and no longer ovulating (releasing any eggs from your ovaries).

The majority of women enter perimenopause sometime in their 40s, with the average age being 47. The average length of perimenopause is four years, so the mean age at which a woman reaches menopause is 51.

Of course, though, this is simply an average and does not predict the precise duration of time for any individual woman.

The period of time after menopause is called postmenopause. During postmenopause, a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for over a year, although she may still be experiencing symptoms related to estrogen deficiency like vaginal atrophy. 

How Long Do Menopause-Related Symptoms Last?

Even though menopause is the end of the perimenopause transition period, the symptoms you have been experiencing can persist.

Two common menopause-related symptoms are hot flashes and vaginal dryness. These occur as a result of the loss of estrogen in the body, normally produced by the ovaries.

Most women stop having hot flashes within seven years following their final menstrual period. However, a report on the management of menstrual symptoms notes that the Penn Ovarian Aging Study found that more than one-third of women continued to have moderate to severe hot flashes for 10 years or more.

Women who began having hot flashes as they entered perimenopause had them longer, for an average of 11.6 years. African-American women had a longer duration than white women.

Vaginal dryness, burning, and itchiness also occur as a result of estrogen deficiency. The difference with this symptom is that it tends to get worse as women get older. In fact, only between one-quarter and one-third of women in perimenopause or early postmenopause experience vaginal dryness. But as women reach late postmenopause, about half report vaginal dryness. 

There are other symptoms that may begin during perimenopause and persist throughout postmenopause.

These include:

Although, while many women attribute these symptoms to menopause, the timing may be coincidental. In other words, it’s tricky knowing whether these symptoms are truly from a lack of estrogen in the body or from the natural processes that go along with aging.

Factors That Influence Menopause Duration and Symptoms

Like puberty and pregnancy, perimenopause begins and ends at different times for each woman. Factors influencing when and how dramatically you will experience menopause-related symptoms include:

  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Stress
  • General health

Cultural perspective about menopause may also influence how you view your experience.

That being said, the vast majority of women will experience their “menopause” in a two- to 10-year window of time, probably from their mid-forties to their mid-fifties.

But even if you begin much earlier or end later, you may still be having your own version of a healthy menopause. And whether you never feel a single hot flash, or continue to have them into your late 60s, it can be “normal” for you.

A Word From Verywell

If your menopause-related symptoms cause you anxiety or negatively impact your quality of life or daily functioning, discuss them with your healthcare provider. There are a number of therapies out there to help you cope with these uncomfortable symptoms including both hormonal and non-hormonal medications, as well as alternative therapies

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do all women go through menopause?

    Yes, all women go through menopause at one point or another. Most experience it between ages 45 and 55. Some factors can affect this timing; for example, menopause may occur at a younger age for women who regularly smoke.

  • How do I know I'm in menopause?

    You’ve reached menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months. The months or years when you are transitioning to menopause is known as perimenopause. When you start to experience symptoms like hot flashes and changes in your menstrual cycle, it may be because you are in perimenopause.

  • How many people have premature menopause?

    Around 1% of people living in Western populations have premature menopause, defined as reaching this point in life before age 40. Another 5% experience early menopause, or menopause before age 45. Premature menopause can increase the risk of certain health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.

  • What are the signs of menopause coming to an end?

    You are considered to be in menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months. During the transition period, you’ll likely experience symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Once you have reached menopause, these symptoms may become less severe or go away altogether, though some people continue to experience them for years.

  • How long does menopause last after partial or full hysterectomy?

    If you had your ovaries removed along with your uterus, surgical menopause will begin immediately after the procedure. If you kept one or both ovaries, you may begin experiencing symptoms like hot flashes earlier than you otherwise would have, but they are more likely to come on gradually and be less severe. They may, however, continue for years.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard Health Publishing. Perimenopause: Rocky Road to Menopause.

  2. Santoro N. Perimenopause: from research to practiceJ Womens Health. 2016;25(4):332-339. doi:10.1089/jwh.2015.5556

  3. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Menopause.

  4. Kaunitz AM, Manson JE. Management of menopausal symptoms. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;126(4):859-876. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000001058

  5. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Top questions about menopause.

  6. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. About menopause.

  7. Whitcomb BW, Purdue-Smithe AC, Szegda KL, et al. Cigarette smoking and risk of early natural menopause. Am J Epidemiol. 2018;187(4):696-704. doi:10.1093/aje/kwx292

  8. Rees M, Angioli R, Coleman RL, et al. European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) and International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) position statement on managing the menopause after gynecological cancer: focus on menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis. Maturitas. 2020;134:56-61. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.01.005

By Kate Bracy, RN, NP
Kate Bracy, RN, MS, NP, is a registered nurse and certified nurse practitioner who specializes in women's health and family planning.