What is menopause?
Very simply, menopause is a normal transition every woman goes through in her life, when her menstrual periods stop. It is often called the "change of life" or menopause. During this transition, a woman's body slowly makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.1
The entire menopause transition is a journey through these stages:
For some women, premature menopause is part of this transition journey. This is menopause that occurs before the age of 40, whether naturally occurring or induced by medical or surgical means.1
When a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months, and there are no other causes for this change, she has reached menopause.1
How long does menopause last?
Most women naturally enter the beginning phase of this transition in their 40s or 50s. Research shows that 95% of women go through menopause between the ages of 45 – 55.2 The average age for menopause is 51.3
When a woman is at menopause age, she stops having her monthly period. The menopausal transition usually takes between four and five years for most women. Women who smoke typically reach menopause about one-and-a-half years earlier than non-smokers.3
Every woman experiences menopause differently. Although it can be a time of adjustment to the next chapter of life, the important thing to remember is that menopause is perfectly normal, and is now discussed more openly than ever.
There is also a wealth of information about menopause available, especially about treatment options. You should partner with your doctor to check your health, discuss any menopause-related symptoms, and find the symptom relief that’s best for you.
For additional information on menopause, please consult these resources:
North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
NAMS is North America’s leading independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of women through an understanding of menopause. http://www.menopause.org
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
ACOG is a membership organization of obstetrician/gynecologists dedicated to the advancement of women’s health through education, advocacy, practice, and research. http://www.acog.org
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women’s Health
The FDA regulates the drugs that make up different kinds of hormone replacement therapy. http://www.fda.gov/womens/healthinformation/menopause.html
The online Women’s Health Center provides a comprehensive overview of menopause, covering symptoms, causes, risk factors, treatment options, and self-care measures. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/menopause/DS00119
National Women’s Health Information Center (NWHIC)
NWHIC is a service of the Office on Women’s Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov
- G Ellis. Understanding what happens in menopause. Philadelphia Tribune, February 24, 2015:8A.
- Deecher. Arch Womens Men health. 2007 10:247 - 257; UpToDate; ClearView Analysis.
- CDC Women’s Health Facts; Gold. SWAN Study. Am J Pub Health. 2006 96(7): 1226-1235; ClearView Analysis.