When Do Women Hit Menopause and What to Expect

Ah, menopause. The “change of life” is becoming less of a bad word these days, but we still don’t talk about it enough! What exactly is menopause? When do women hit menopause? Let The Libido Doctor fill you in. 

What is Menopause?

Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It’s when your menstrual cycles stop for good. How do docs know you’ve hit menopause? It’s diagnosed after 12 consecutive months without a period. 

When Do Women Hit Menopause?

Menopause can hit anytime between ages 45 and 55 for most women. The average age is 51 in the US (Koothirezhi R, 2023). Most women start menopause between 49-52. If you stop menstruating before age 40, that’s considered premature menopause.  

The transition time before your final period is called perimenopause. It can start 4-5 years before menopause. Fun! 

Perimenopause Transition

Perimenopause refers to the transitional period leading up to menopause, which lasts an average of 4 years but varies widely. It usually begins 4-5 years before the final menstrual period. Fluctuating reproductive hormone levels during this time cause menstrual irregularities. Vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats often start during perimenopause as estrogen declines.

What Happens When Women hit Menopause? 

No more periods? Woo! But menopause has other “fun” challenges in store. During perimenopause, your hormones go haywire leading to irregular cycles. You may get hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. Oh, goody!

In menopause, your ovaries quit making estrogen and progesterone. With the hormone rollercoaster, most symptoms come from low estrogen levels. Not fun!

Women spend a third of life postmenopausal. That’s a long time! – We should know more about this stage.

Hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood changes and sexual issues are common menopause symptoms. We’ll cover the sexual problems like vaginal dryness and low libido in detail later. But for now, know that menopause can mean:

– Uncomfortable or painful sex due to vaginal dryness

Plummeting sex drive 

Night sweats disrupting sleep and energy 

– Feeling too stressed for intimacy

Factors that Influence When Do Women Hit Menopause

There are several factors that influence the timing of menopause:

  • Genetics – Family history accounts for about 50% of the variability in menopause timing. Women whose mothers and grandmothers experienced later menopause tend to as well.
  • Smoking – Can cause earlier onset of menopause by 1-2 years on average. Quitting smoking may help delay it.
  • Chemotherapy – Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can damage the ovaries and push women into premature menopause.
  • Hysterectomy – Surgical removal of the uterus causes earlier menopause, especially if done before age 45.
  • Ethnicity – Caucasian women on average hit menopause slightly later than other ethnicities, around age 52.
  • Body weight – Heavier women tend to experience earlier menopause

A Wrap-Up on When Do Women Hit Menopause

So menopause average age is 51, but it’s different for everyone! Your body will change during this transition. . However, Lifestyle, genes, and medical conditions affect menopause timing. Smoking, surgeries like hysterectomy, or chemo can make it come earlier. If your mom/grandma had early menopause you might too. The opposite applies as well. A family history of late menopause, not smoking, and avoiding those medical treatments could delay yours.

While they can be unpleasant, there are ways to mitigate them. Managing them typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, therapies, and sometimes medications, tailored to individual needs and preferences. Try the techniques we mentioned. Also speak to your doctor for medical advice, especially if your symptoms are severe. 

For more information go back to Menopause and Sex

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National Institute on Aging. (2022, May 6). Research explores the impact of menopause on women’s health and aging. 

Healio. (2023, March 16). Long-term studies reveal what women can expect during menopause. 

NIH MedlinePlus Magazine. (2023, September 12). What we know—and still don’t know—about menopause.